May 29, 2020
Over the course of the last two months, UC San Diego has worked swiftly to move as many operations as possible to remote settings. The speed and grace with which faculty and staff were able to pivot complex education, healthcare and business procedures and practices has kept our academic, research and health enterprise moving forward amid great uncertainty. Thank you to our faculty, researchers, staff and everyone across the campus and the health system.
In May, we brought together a team of UC San Diego clinicians, molecular biologists, technologists, infectious disease experts, bioinformatics specialists, disease modelers, public health experts and others to develop a groundbreaking program called “Return to Learn” to guide our future responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
The initial phase of Return to Learn launched on May 11 to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost to thousands of students living on campus. By testing large numbers of our campus community on a recurring basis, we hope to be able to quickly identify COVID-19 infections on our campus to reduce the risk of a significant outbreak.
The three-week phase included testing undergraduate and graduate students residing on campus during the spring quarter. UC San Diego received national media attention at the launch, and early data indicated that Return to Learn could serve as a model—not only for higher education, but also for cities, counties and states working to fight the spread of coronavirus. More details about initial findings and insights will be released soon.
In the coming weeks, UC San Diego will graduate more than 9,000 students and recognize their accomplishment through a series of online graduation exercises culminating in our Virtual Commencement 2020 on June 13. Details are available at https://commencement.ucsd.edu.
STAGED REOPENING OF CAMPUS
UC San Diego is a world-class, complex system of instruction, research, health and auxiliary services that comprises nearly 65,000 individuals. To restart operations, we have to reimagine many of our processes and procedures to promote the health and safety of every one of our students, faculty and staff. As you can imagine, this requires a tremendous effort.
A group of task forces has been working diligently to address issues surrounding educational continuity, research continuity, work continuity, and the student experience. The results of their efforts are currently being finalized and will inform our overall strategy to restart our academic, research and health enterprise.
Beginning next week, a small group of research staff will commence ramping up our extensive research enterprise. The Research Continuity Task Force, supported by the Emergency Operations Center, has prepared for this ramp-up and communicated directly with researchers returning to campus.
By mid-June, we will announce a comprehensive strategy for bringing more people back to campus in a way that complies with federal, state and county guidelines and is enhanced by our own expertise. We are taking a phased approach that will restart levels of operations over a period of time. If you work remotely today, your return to campus will be communicated by your direct supervisor. Please do not come to campus until you are invited to do so.
Currently, those working on campus are required to self-screen for symptoms, wear a mask, wash hands regularly, practice social distancing, and follow guidelines developed for their specific unit. Starting June 1, the screening questionnaire will move on-line. Paper versions will remain available for those without internet access. Instructions for the daily online symptom screening questionnaire will be disseminated to employees currently working on campus and to employees as they return to campus. Our goal is to make campus safer for everyone.
All details for returning to campus will be shared on a new website that will launch in mid-June.
In the meantime, as the entire state of California enters a new phase of reopening, be mindful of the measures to follow to stay safe wherever you are.
I personally want to thank the members of our collaborative task forces who continue to think through not only the potential problems associated with returning to campus, but also the innovations and solutions that will make our campus safer so that we all may learn, teach, work and thrive at UC San Diego.
Collaborative learning and teamwork across disciplines is at the heart of UC San Diego’s academic, research and clinical success. As a team, we gather our individual strengths to accomplish more than we can do alone. I am proud and grateful to see the strong spirit of our Triton community emerge in the face of such historic change. I look forward to seeing what’s next, and I can’t wait to see you all on campus soon.