The UC Office of the President (UCOP) released a statement on Jan. 11 announcing that all 10 UC campuses will return to in-person learning fall 2021. In the statement, UC President Michael Drake expressed hopes that students might enjoy a normal on-campus experience in the fall.
Each university will be responsible for its own reopening plans to accommodate its specific needs and local health requirements. Not all university staff and task force members were informed of the UCOP plan to return to in-person learning before Drake’s message, but the announcement was discussed during a call between all UC chancellors and Drake prior to the release.
“UC Santa Cruz will be working through many of these questions and we will be sharing more updates as our plans take shape,” said Scott Hernandez-Jason, UCSC director of news and media relations, in an email. “While we are looking to resume in-person instruction, there may still be practices we need to maintain as the pandemic winds down.”
After the statement from UCOP, Chancellor Cynthia Larive and Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer released a statement responding to Drake’s announcement. Larive and Kletzer wrote that the health of the campus community will be a “high priority” as they continue to create a vaccination strategy.
SUA President and third-year student Shivika Sivakumar is ready to return to campus, but she wants to emphasize the importance of community safety and continued COVID testing when in-person learning returns.
“This pandemic is not just going to go away, we still need to be careful. We will have to continue testing and making sure those with symptoms are being tested,” Sivakumar said. “I really want to be the liaison between the questions and concerns [of students] and the ones implementing those changes and to make sure that everybody is involved in the conversation.”
Hernandez-Jason said that the university’s two task forces — the Academic Recovery and Resiliency Task Force and the Operations and Employee Recovery and Resiliency Task Force — will continue to be involved as UCSC makes plans to resume in-person learning for the fall.
The Academic Recovery and Resiliency Task Force is designed to focus on the needs of students and academics, primarily working on the problems that arise in housing, research, and more. The second task force focuses on the campus community and the morale of employees as they return to work.
Task forces have been meeting since May 2020 to solve operational and emerging issues, and meet at different times depending on the work they are doing, said Jean Marie Scott, assistant vice chancellor of risk and safety services and member of the Operations and Employee Recovery and Resiliency Task Force, in an email.
“I am confident that we will continue to use our same diligent practices in preparing to welcome more students to the campus in the fall,” Scott said in an email. “My hope is that we build a path to the fall that fully supports our students and provides them with a healthy and safe space for their academic endeavors.”