Jan. 4, 2022

Dear Students:

I hope everyone has enjoyed a restful and healthy holiday season. As we look forward to the Spring 2022 semester I wanted to provide the planning updates noted below, necessitated by the CSU’s recently updated Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Policy which redefines “fully vaccinated” to include a booster vaccine upon eligibility for receiving one, and by the current surging of COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.

A preview of the two main points, noted in more detail below, are that: (1) we will be moving most classes to virtual delivery for the first two weeks of the semester, and (2) we are moving the CSU-required booster vaccination deadline for eligible students, administrators, and confidential employees from February 28 to February 6 to coincide with the first week of mostly in-person classes beginning the week of February 7. In keeping with our campus response to the pandemic to date, these decisions have been made with an explicit safety-first focus and go beyond CSU policy and public health requirements.

Town Halls are scheduled for Thursday and Friday of this week to review and discuss the following. See details below to RSVP.

Spring 2022 Semester
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and Ventura County Public Health (VCPH), Omicron cases of COVID-19 are expected to peak during the final week of January. This projected surge follows immediately upon the scheduled return to campus of students and faculty – many of whom will have just returned from extended social gatherings and travels, domestically and internationally. That we will see an uptick in positive cases at the start of the semester is very likely, given this post-holiday timing and the Omicron variant’s high rate of transmissibility.

Fortunately, current indications are that Omicron-related symptoms are milder than previous iterations of the disease, especially for fully vaccinated people, and further, that contracting COVID-19 through this variant may ultimately serve to strengthen individual and herd immunities. Unfortunately, the anticipated Omicron spike coincides with the first week of Spring 2022 classes and the more severe Delta variant is still in circulation, so whatever we do, we are again looking at a disrupted start to the semester.

After much deliberation and in consultation with VCPH, the Chancellor’s Office, and campus leaders, I have decided that the following actions are most likely to provide the greatest level of safety for all members of the campus community and create the least amount of disruption to students’ engagement, learning, retention, and graduation. We will take the following steps to protect ourselves, each other, and family members who are vulnerable while we continue to do our part to move COVID-19 from pandemic to an endemic future.

  • Pivot to virtual instruction for most classes through the first two weeks of the Spring semester (Jan. 22 through Feb. 6).
    • Provost Avila will work with the school deans to determine which classes are best served by meeting in person during these first two weeks. Students will be notified prior to the start of the Spring semester by their instructor regarding any changes to modality of instruction. For students requesting accommodations through Disability Accommodations and Support Services (DASS), please do so through the DASS portal system as soon as possible to ensure timely delivery of services.
    • While we must anticipate potentially higher positive case counts this semester, virtual instruction for the first two weeks will reduce population density during the projected Omicron peak, hastening the sharp drop off in cases expected after January and mitigating disruptions to teaching and learning that high case counts from the start of the semester would create, given the well tested and effective response protocols we have in place.
  • Move the CSU booster vaccine requirement for eligible students, administrators, and confidential employees from February 28 to February 6, to coincide with the first week of offering mostly in-person classes beginning the week of February 7.
    • Logistics for monitoring eligibility and compliance for the booster vaccine will be developed, complicated by the fact that eligibility varies from person to person (i.e., six months* following completion of the initial Pfizer or Moderna two-dose protocol and two months following the initial Johnson & Johnson single-dose).
    • VCPH assures us that booster vaccine availability is plentiful in Ventura County and that our moving the deadline from February 28 to February 7 for eligible individuals will not create difficulty in accessing the booster.
  • Finalize the process for allowing students, administrators, and confidential employees to upload documentation of their booster vaccine by February 6 or when they become eligible for the booster.

Town Halls
We have scheduled Town Halls for students this week to discuss safety-related plans for the Spring semester. Please use the appropriate link to RSVP for any or all of these information and Q&A sessions.

  • Jan. 6 from 5 to 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 7 from 10 to 11 a.m.

(The University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs, events and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, please contact accommodations@csuci.edu as soon as possible.)

On-Campus Testing and Vaccination Clinics
As a reminder, please read my message from Dec. 22, 2021, regarding updates to the CSU Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Policychanging the definition of “fully vaccinated” to require a booster for booster-eligible students and employees.

  • Instructions on how to upload booster vaccination records will be shared with the campus in the coming weeks.
  • All residential students will be required to provide a negative test prior to moving into on-campus housing.
  • Individuals with an approved medical or religious exemption must participate in weekly testing. Exemptions already approved continue to be in effect.
  • On-campus testing clinics will be held January 10, 11 and 12, with additional clinics to be added soon.
  • On-campus booster vaccination clinics for both the Moderna and Pfizer doses will be offered at El Dorado Hall. Currently scheduled clinics are for Thursday, January 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Thursday, February 17 and Thursday, March 10 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Registration is not required. Additional clinics will be scheduled up to twice weekly in the lead-up to February 7, and these additional clinic dates will be shared with the campus soon.
  • Depending on your county of residence, vaccination information is available by visiting: ca.gov. You can also check with your healthcare provider and local pharmacies.
  • Please remember to immediately file a report if you or someone you know may be COVID-19 positive.

Visit our Spring 2022 semester webpage where information about campus COVID-19 cases and reporting, general FAQs, campus services and resources, and campus communication for the Spring semester will be provided. Additional information will be added to the website as details are finalized.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment and support to providing a safe and engaging environment for learning and working.

Sincerely,
Richard Yao, Ph.D.
Interim President

*The CDC has released updated guidance to shorten the interval from six months to five months for individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 

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