Isla Vista Beat Reporter
On Jan. 11, University of California (UC) President Michael Drake announced that all 10 UC campuses are working towards safely reinstating in-person instruction for the upcoming fall quarter. Each UC campus plans to announce their individual safety precautions as they continue to consult public health authorities in their respective regions.
Following this news, a campus-wide email was sent out by the vice-chancellor for administration on Friday detailing how UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) proposes to move forward with vaccinating its students, faculty, and staff to meet the goal of reopening campus.
After receiving approval from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, the university completed Phase 1A for all healthcare workers at risk of exposure to the virus in the campus community.
UCSB has currently received further approval to begin Phase 1B next week consisting of “active staff and faculty over the age of 75” who have been contacted by Student Health (SHS) over email for eligibility. Any excess doses will then be administered to staff and faculty between the ages of 65 to 75 years old.
“At this time, we still do not have additional information about how other members of our UC Santa Barbara community will be able to access the vaccine or if additional vaccines will be made available to campus,” reads the campus-wide email.
This aligns with California’s projected Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccination plan, which also includes workers in the sectors of education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. The second part of this phase will cover workers in other sectors such as transportation, as well as the incarcerated and homeless populations.
According to the website, 1,454,626 doses of the vaccine have been administered as of Jan. 19. Most Californians are also expected to receive the vaccine by the start of the summer of 2021.
While students wait a return to normal campus life, it’s still essential to practice social distancing, wear masks, and follow public health guidelines until the vaccine reaches the general population. Even after the last dose of the vaccine, it takes a few weeks for an individual to be protected from becoming infected with the virus and potentially spreading it to others.
A separate campus-wide email from Margaret Klawunn, the vice chancellor for Student Affairs, and Vejas Skripkus, executive director of Student Health, announced an alarming increase of 73 positive test results received over the past weekend unrelated to the recent move-ins for on-campus housing.
Additionally, the email announced that Student Health is reporting over twice as many positive results during the previous week of this quarter than in the final week of fall quarter. This urge to follow the precautions of the Regional Stay-At-Home Order also comes as recent reports indicate Santa Barbara as the California county hardest hit by COVID-19 during its third wave.
Data collected by the state in a graph for Santa Barbara county displays an R-effective of greater than one at the start of January — an epidemiological measure that indicates how many secondary cases will result from an infected individual. A value of one indicates a constant number of cases while a value greater than one indicates a dramatic increase in cases.
Free COVID-19 symptomatic and asymptomatic testing is available on campus for UCSB students Monday through Friday through the Student Health portal. More information on community testing and vaccinations may be found on Santa Barbara County Public Health website.