With pandemic conditions having improved rapidly in the wake of the omicron wave, UCLA leaders hosted a town hall for faculty and staff on March 16 to offer the latest information on campus COVID-19 policies. A town hall for students is scheduled for March 29.
The hourlong Zoom meeting, also live streamed on YouTube, addressed topics ranging from plans to relax masking and testing protocols on April 11 to health and safety requirements for those who are immunocompromised and campus contingency plans in the event that cases rise again.
“Case numbers, as well as other metrics, are all improving rapidly, and many of the restrictions we have had in our daily lives are bring eased,” said Megan McEvoy, professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and co-chair of the UCLA COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force. “I’m cautiously optimistic that, while we still need to be vigilant, things are looking good for the coming weeks.”
New testing policies
As announced in a March 11 BruinPost, all students, faculty and staff involved in campus activities who travel during spring break must test immediately upon their return. They also are required to test three to five days after their return and again at least once the following week.
As of Monday, April 11, students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated and boosted (if they are eligible for a booster) may opt out of weekly surveillance testing, assuming COVID-19 test-positivity rates continue on their current downward course. Still, UCLA highly recommends that they continue to test regularly. Members of the Bruin community who are not vaccinated, along with those in the performing arts who must remove their masks during indoor events, will still be required to test.
New mask policies
After April 11, indoor masking is expected to become optional for those who are up to date with their vaccines and boosters, although masking continues to be highly recommended for all Bruins. In addition, UCLA plans to again allow food and drinks to be consumed indoors at that time. Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear a mask indoors until further notice.
Instructors who are up to date with their vaccinations and boosters and who are able to maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others in the classroom may choose to remove their mask during lectures to enhance learning goals, effective March 28.
Symptom Monitoring Survey
Completion of the daily symptom survey, which is currently necessary to participate in campus activities, is still required. Associate Vice Chancellor Michael Beck said members of the community should expect this requirement to remain in place through at least the end of the spring quarter.
Jessica Cattelino, chair of the Academic Senate and a professor of anthropology, said that the pandemic has demanded a great deal of flexibility from faculty members and that they have worked hard to adapt to the changing circumstances. The Academic Senate and campus administration continue to explore long-term questions about modes of instruction, accessibility and other topics brought to the fore by the pandemic.
Other speakers at the town hall included Peter Katona, clinical professor of medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Michelle Sityar, chief of staff to the administrative vice chancellor.