Isla Vista Beat Reporter
Last week, Chancellor Henry T. Yang sent out a campus-wide email updating the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) community on the university’s plans to return to normal campus instruction.
While the announcement confirmed that UCSB will continue with remote instruction through spring of 2021 with only certain courses in a face-to-face format, plans are underway to re-open campus for normal in-person instruction for the upcoming fall quarter.
Chancellor Yang also disclosed that there will be a delayed release of official details regarding the virtual commencement ceremony for 2021 graduates. This is due to the possibility of a hybrid ceremony that only graduating students would be permitted to attend.
“We are also keeping in mind our extraordinary graduates from 2020, and we are still planning to invite them back to campus for an in-person recognition ceremony in the future when the situation permits,” added the campus-wide email.
The rescheduled date for the in-person celebration of last year’s class is yet to be announced, but the Associated Students (AS) Program Board extended an invitation to a future Extravaganza concert for the class of 2020 graduates — a concert funded by student lock-in fees of around $400 per quarter. However, this was not confirmed for 2021 graduates in Chancellor Yang’s e-mail.
“While the announcement confirmed that UCSB will continue with remote instruction through spring of 2021 with only certain courses in a face-to-face format, plans are underway to re-open campus for normal in-person instruction for the upcoming fall quarter. “
Chancellor Yang also shared details about potentially re-opening the Davidson Library and the Recreation Center in a limited capacity for UCSB students. However, many students feel that this will risk reopening plans for the fall, seeing as the university is still in Phase 1B of vaccine administration, which only covers employees 65 years of age or older.
“I would be more inclined to have those places open in fall of 2021 as opposed to spring of 2021 just because the campus already plans on being fully reopened for fall quarter,” said Olivia Gonzales, a third-year environmental studies major.
“That’s also under the assumption that all the students and faculty will have vaccines by that point so that keeps everyone safe,” she added.
Students also doubt whether this will happen since the winter quarter is almost over and UCSB’s upcoming spring break may lead to a surge in COVID-19 cases for students who travel out-of-town.
“I feel like at this point, they’re continuing to give us false hope,” said Julie Winzelberg, a fourth-year communication major.
“More frequent testing will lower the adjusted case rate and help the county head towards re-opening businesses.”
Dr. Laura Polito, a member of the UCSB COVID-19 Response Team, held a mandatory COVID-19 conversation last Thursday for members of the Panhellenic community, which represents nine Greek sororities at UCSB. Winzelberg, who is a member of a Panhellenic sorority, shared what she learned from the presentation.
“She said that they can’t officially make plans for it to be open until we get out of the purple tier,” Winzelberg said in reference to planning for ventilation systems and deciding which entrances would be closed off for the buildings.
California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy determines color-coded tiers for a county based on the test positivity rate as well as the amount of daily new cases per 100,000 people in the population – also known as the adjusted case rate. Currently, Santa Barbara County has an adjusted case rate of 16.9.
For this reason, Dr. Polito strongly recommends that more students take advantage of UCSB’s free weekly testing, which will allow the Santa Barbara County Public Health to more accurately identify the number of negative cases. More frequent testing will lower the adjusted case rate and help the county head towards re-opening businesses.
Based on the blueprint’s criteria, Santa Barbara County needs to have an adjusted case rate below 7.0 to move from the purple tier into a less restrictive tier. This requires residents of the county to continue following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks – or double-masking – until the vaccine is accessible to everyone.
To preserve enough doses for all qualified individuals, UCSB encourages its eligible students, staff, and faculty to first consult with their primary care providers for the vaccine so that individuals can receive it in a more timely manner.