How county COVID-19 protocols for higher education affect UCLA
COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force
Dear Bruin Community:
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced on Feb. 22 that colleges and universities will be allowed to ease a few of the restrictions that have been in place over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the UCLA COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force is reviewing the updated LACDPH guidance (PDF) and developing plans for a limited variety of activities and resources to resume for on-campus students and those living off campus or in the neighboring community. These changes may include reopening of libraries at limited capacity; small group academic support to be held outdoors; reopening of some performing arts studio and practice spaces; reopening of some outdoor recreation and fitness facilities for faculty, staff and students; and resumption of certain kinds of club and intramural sports practice.
Detailed information about when these operations resume will be shared with the campus community in the coming days. Please note that the new guidelines do not alter our current operations around reduced on-campus housing capacities and remote learning through the end of summer sessions.
While an easing of community and campus restrictions is a hopeful step toward recovery from the pandemic, we must double down on preventing the spread of COVID-19 by abiding by strict health and safety protocols, including maintaining at least six feet of physical distance from others, the proper use of face coverings, frequently washing our hands and avoiding large gatherings. Although the case numbers have continued to decline since the peak in January, the virus is still active in our community and continues to threaten the health and lives of our families, friends, colleagues and neighbors. We must continue to do what we can to keep one another safer.
A return to in-class learning for K-6 learners
UCLA is also preparing for a staggered return to in-class instruction for students in kindergarten through sixth grade (PDF) at the UCLA Lab School beginning March 3, with strict adherence to state and county requirements. Plans for a return of sixth grade students at the UCLA Geffen Academy are also in the works; and a date for in-class instruction at that location will soon be announced. The Lab School and Geffen Academy communities will receive separate communications about reopening details from their leadership.
Voluntary twice weekly testing for campus employees and students
UCLA continues to provide mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing to its non-Health System employees and students living, learning or working on campus. In response to employee requests for additional availability of testing, UCLA is also welcoming those who wish to be tested a second time in any given week. Just drop by any of the three testing sites for a walk-in test or schedule your second appointment online. Please note, this will not disrupt the weekly invitations for testing or messaging about test results, and you should continue to schedule at least one test each week.
Vaccination distribution expanded to education sector
LACDPH has announced that along with food and agriculture workers, first responders and law enforcement officers, vaccine distribution will be expanded to include those working in education and childcare, including employees at colleges and universities, starting March 1. Students working for UCLA on site are included in this group. In addition, individuals aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions may become eligible for vaccinations beginning March 15.
While these changes will expand access to the vaccine within our community considerably, additional changes at the state level may impact your ability to receive the vaccine through UCLA Health. We are still working with Blue Shield (the new third party administrator) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to understand how these changes may impact our ability to prioritize vaccine distribution by groups and social vulnerability index, or to directly invite eligible employees to schedule their vaccine through UCLA Health as planned. Once there is more definitive information, we will let you know. As we have mentioned previously, you should try to receive the vaccine wherever it is first available to you. Visit the CDPH My Turn website to receive a notification when vaccines are available in your area.
It is important to note that the vaccination process is expected to take some time — possibly weeks or months — as distribution remains contingent on the state’s ability to receive sufficient doses of the vaccine in a timely manner, and how those doses are distributed to UCLA Health and other vaccine providers.
COVID-19 information town halls
A COVID-19 vaccine town hall for faculty and staff was held at noon today and is now available to view on demand.
A subsequent town hall meeting for parents and families of UCLA students will be held Thursday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. Registration is open and this event will be livestreamed to the Parent & Family Association Facebook page.
For general information about vaccines, please visit UCLA Health’s COVID-19 vaccine information hub and for more information pertaining to vaccines at UCLA, please visit UCLA’s COVID-19 resources website. If you have additional questions, concerns or thoughts about UCLA’s COVID-19 response, please write to COVID19@ucla.edu.
We look forward to keeping you updated on campus developments as we all do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Michael J. Beck
Administrative Vice Chancellor
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force
Immediate Past Chair, UCLA Academic Senate
Professor of History
Co-chair, COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force