UCLA leadership held an hour-long information session and question-and-answer forum for UCLA students the evening of March 9 to share the latest information about the disease and how campus is responding.
“Above all, take it easy and don’t panic,” said Dr. Samuel Elias, associate medical director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center. Elias was joined by and several other administrators during the information session, which UCLA convened to provide health and medical data about COVID-19 and share updates with students about what actions campus leaders are taking.
The situation is changing rapidly and campus leadership remains in frequent communication with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, as well as officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health, to ensure that UCLA is following the latest recommendations set by those groups.
Administrators responded to questions from the audience, which was sparse, and many questions from among the 1,900 unique viewers who watched the livestream.
The Academic Senate has already invested in several remote teaching technology options and campus IT services are conducting faculty training on these should UCLA need to shift to online/virtual teaching methods, said Maria Blandizzi, dean for students.
The senate is also working with faculty whose academic disciplines do not lend themselves to remote learning, such as the performing arts, to best determine how to continue instruction if the campus shifts away from onsite teaching. They’re also preparing for potential remote options for Ph.D. dissertation defenses.
The Center for Accessible Education is prepared to support all students who are already registered for academic accommodations, aiming for case-by-case flexibility if and when the majority of teaching shifts to virtual or online methods, Blandizzi said.
The Ashe Center is the first line of defense for students
Elias offered reassurances about how COVID-19 would affect college-age adults. The typical heath status and age of the vast majority of UCLA students means that most students who contract COVID-19 would likely be sick for around five days but up to two weeks in extreme cases, he said. The virus is proving most dangerous among the elderly and/or people who already suffer from underlying health problems.
He urged any student who is experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, respiratory issues, sore throat) to call the Ashe Center hotline310-825-4073, which is available 24 hours a day.
“Call as soon as you have symptoms,” Elias said. “There is no way to test someone who isn’t already sick. Any UCLA student can call the phone number on our website, and a registered nurse will call you back.”
Everything we know so far about COVID-19 suggests that it requires between two and 10 minutes of exposure within six feet of an infected person, Elias said.
“We believe the spread is coming from droplets,” he said. “You have to inhale them.”
Ashe Center has masks they will provide on a case-by-case basis to sick students, he said. The center is setting up a separate entrance for any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. They also have temperature strips available for students. Anyone who contracts COVID-19 is officially “better” after they have gone 24 hours without a fever, Elias said.
Students, staff and faculty should consider carefully whether any upcoming travel plans for spring break are essential, administrators said. And no one should travel to Level Three countries as outlined by the CDC, including Italy, China, Iran and South Korea. Anyone arriving from those countries will be asked to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Administrators answered questions from students who were concerned about what to do if they become sick and have to self-quarantine but live in the residence halls with roommates.
UCLA has a means to safely quarantine up to 500 students at a time on campus if need be, said Pete Angelis, assistant vice chancellor, UCLAHousing and Hospitality Services. The quarantine time frame for COVID-19 is 14 days.
For off campus students who may need to self-quarantine but live with roommates, Elias said that ideally a sick student should try to stay alone in their own room and potentially have their own bathroom.
Suzanne Seplow, assistant vice chancellor of student development and executive director, residential and student life, said the campus will work support students in off campus housing who need options.
“If you are having challenges, get in touch with us,” she said.
Blandizzi urged the UCLA community to band together, look out for each other and avoid fear-based xenophobia or bias in the wake of all the uncertainty around COVID-19. If you’ve experienced or witnessed acts of discrimination, contact the office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at WeListen@equity.ucla.edu or call at 310- 825-3935.
She also emphasized that students and their families should remember to remain calm and take care of their emotional health during what everyone understands is a very stressful time. Counseling and Psychological Services has a 24-hour hotline at 310-825-076.