UCLA, 4 UC Locations Expand Distance Learning Amid Virus Rise

Amid a worsening surge in Omicron, a growing number of California colleges and universities are delaying the start of face-to-face teaching, including USC and UCLA.

Four other University of California campuses – UCLA, Berkeley, Riverside, and Merced – announced Friday that they would be extending distance learning through January 31, after Davis, Irvine, Santa Cruz, and San Diego announced they would. Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton also announced remote launches this year along with a handful of other campuses in California State University’s 23-campus system.

California private universities, including USC, Stanford, Occidental, and the five Claremont Colleges, have also postponed the start of face-to-face tuition.

The delayed personal restart at colleges and universities contrasts with K-12 districts like Los Angeles Unified – the nation’s second largest school system, which is slated to reopen Tuesday with its highest positivity rate.

A key difference between the K-12 and university communities that can flow into the different decisions is that college students are much more mobile than K-12 students and may be at higher risk of spreading the virus, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Chair of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at UC San Francisco. Whether flying back to campus from out of state or freely moving across campus, college campus populations can make it difficult to contain transmission.

“Colleges and young adults have far more free moving people contributing to transmission than children,” she said.

Two key factors in UCLA’s decision to postpone personal start-up until January 31 were the surge in faculty, staff and student coronavirus cases – which have exceeded 1,200 since early January – and fewer than expected numbers of students who did this received booster shots, officials said. Only about a third of the students received the required recordings.

“While we had hoped our safety protocols and expanded testing requirements would be sufficient to resume in-person classes after next week, regional and campus trends in positivity rates, as well as human and operational concerns, have led to the conclusion that expanding distance learning was the sensible course of action is, ”wrote Vice Chancellor Michael J. Beck and Professor Megan McEvoy to the community. 34% of students received the required booster vaccinations.

UCLA originally directed students to return to the Westwood neighborhood by January 9 to begin rigorous testing. Officials are now allowing the students to postpone their trip.

Most classes at UC Berkeley beginning January 18 will be fully remote controlled for the first two weeks of the semester before taking place in person on January 31. Some courses, e.g. B. Lab sections, studio courses, and clinical courses can continue to be taught face-to-face for the first two weeks, officials said. UC Merced also announced that it will postpone face-to-face classes for the spring semester until January 31st.

UC Santa Barbara, which began winter quarters on January 3, previously extended distance learning by two weeks and continues to plan to resume in-person classes on January 18.

Riverside, Irvine, Davis, Santa Cruz and San Diego, whose winter roosts also began on January 3, similarly said rising positivity rates for coronavirus infections had forced them to reschedule the start of face-to-face classes to January 31 to return to campus on Monday, while UCLA, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Cruz and San Diego had previously announced a January 18th launch.

“Dealing with the challenges of another COVID-19 surge is certainly a tough way to start a new year,” said Kim Wilcox, Chancellor of UC Riverside, in a message to the campus community on Friday. He said he was confident that face-to-face tuition could resume after the surge, especially since the campus now has systems for testing, vaccinations and other resources.

The Riverside campus will remain open, including the library, recreation center, and student union building, and personal research and student services will continue. But large indoor events are banned until January 31, although the sports games in the campus arena will continue with no spectators.

At UC Irvine, Chancellor Howard Gillman told the campus community Thursday night that the campus positivity rate of those tested since Sunday was 13% – lower than the Orange County rate of 25%, but still “just too much disease transmission … um.” to be considered safe ”. personal interactions. ”

“Resuming in-person tuition when large numbers of students may not be able to take it is to the students or faculty that would accommodate students who through their fault could not be in-person , unreasonable or fair, ”he said.

UC Santa Cruz reported that its campus positivity rate was 5% of 3,000 tests taken since Sunday, the highest since testing began in 2020. The campus had an average positivity rate of 0.47% among 129,972 tests held between July 14th, 2020 and January 6th of this year.

UC San Diego said rising coronavirus cases were causing staff shortages and affecting students’ ability to attend classes in person. It found that simulation models that map real cases to predicted cases currently estimate that the peak of infections will occur between now and mid-January.

At UC Davis, Chancellor Gary May asked the campus community to stay in Davis during this time so as not to present new cases. “It will be a bit bumpy as Omicron affects our community,” he said in a video message. “Again, please be patient as we determine how we can best provide the training you are here for.”

Cal State Northridge announced Friday that in-person tuition for most classes will be postponed by three weeks and will join at least 10 other Cal State campuses that have announced delays.

In a letter to the community, Northridge President Erika D. Beck stressed that the postponement of plans is temporary and that campus facilities and services will remain open and accessible to students in person and online. Most courses are held remotely from January 24th to February 14th, although some courses continue with a personal start.

“This temporary measure will allow the January surge in cases to subside before our students’ face-to-face classes begin,” wrote Beck.

Cal State Fullerton also announced on Friday that it would postpone the start of face-to-face classes for two weeks, while Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Los Angeles said they would be away for three weeks of the semester. Other CSU campuses that will start remotely include San Diego, Sacramento, Channel Islands, Fresno, East Bay, San Marcos, and San Francisco.

“Today, with the expansion of the Omicron variant in Orange County and California, we’re continuing that decision-making with this announcement: We’ll begin our spring semester by offering our courses remotely in the first two weeks of the semester (January 22nd through February 6, ”wrote President Fram Virjee.

Some community colleges across the state, including Pasadena City College, will also reschedule classes online for the first two weeks of the semester, while others maintain a mostly hybrid schedule.

Cal State Student Assn. President Isaac Alferos said the student leaders support the remote start. “It is critical that campus leaders work with their student leaders across the system to ensure a fair induction that puts our students first,” he said.

Among private universities, USC announced on Friday that it would extend distance learning for four more days and return to face-to-face classes on January 24, as did Occidental College. Stanford also plans to resume in-person tuition for most undergraduate programs on Jan. 24, though those that require in-person tuition, such as labs and arts, will start a week earlier.

The five undergraduate Claremont Colleges – Pitzer, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd – start the spring semester on January 18 as planned, but use online classes for the first two weeks. Colleges will not allow guests from other campuses to their own dormitories or apartments and will reduce indoor dining “as much as possible,” Hiram Chodosh, president of Claremont McKenna, wrote to the community this week.

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