UC Davis announces plans to partially reopen campus for fall, students voice mixed reactions

UC Davis announces plans to partially reopen campus for fall, students voice mixed reactions

Photo Credits: Quinn Spooner / Aggie File. Memorial Union at UC Davis.

University will offer some classes, services in person, based on health guidelines, instructor preferenceBy

UC Davis announced on June 16 that it will welcome students back to campus for Fall Quarter, depending on county and state health guidelines, and will offer some in-person classes and services while making most classes available remotely. 

The university will have in-person classes available based on health guidelines and instructor preference, according to the press release announcing the partial reopening. Live performance and hands-on experience classes will also be delivered in-person. 

In the press release, Chancellor Gary May said the benefits of a residential education were more than just classes and instruction. 

“We look forward to providing that experience for our students — all in keeping with the guidance of our health authorities,” he said. 

To allay concerns about COVID-19, university and county health officials are developing protocols for symptom surveys, temperature checking and virus testing the community. UC Davis will operate all campus spaces — like the MU and the CoHo — according to public health guidance and will require face coverings. It will also regularly clean all common spaces and make sanitizer stations readily available.

Considering the circumstances, some departments, like the Department of Religious Studies, have already decided to hold all Fall Quarter classes online.

“The spring term has been a learning experience for us all, and we will put what we have learned to use when we return in the fall,” said Archana Venkatesan, chair of religious studies, in an email sent to the department listserv. “We are committed to teaching at our usual high standard, prioritizing student engagement and building a community of learners and teachers.” 

Carly Winters, an incoming first-year majoring in mechanical engineering, said she thought UC Davis did a great job keeping the campus community updated and didn’t rush to make a decision about partially reopening the campus.

“After losing our senior year, it was great to know that my first year of college will be in person,” Winters said via Twitter direct message. 

On-campus residence halls and in-person classes will have reduced density; student services like academic advising will continue to offer remote services alongside in-person ones and accommodations will be made for students who cannot return to campus for Fall Quarter. 

Winters said she was eager to find out how the dining commons would work and which of her classes would be in-person or online, but added that she wished there were more certainty.

“They said the density of the dorms would be lowered but not [in] too much detail after that,” she said. “I understand this situation is new to all of us.”

Third-year Steven Le, a psychology and philosophy double major, said the announcement just repeated what the university had been saying throughout Spring Quarter.

Le also said he didn’t think that fully opening UC Davis was a good idea, especially given the rise of new COVID-19 cases in the past weeks and the widespread reopening of businesses around the country.

“It’s definitely a problem because people aren’t taking it as seriously as they should,” Le said. “I don’t think they’re reopening because it’s better — they’re just reopening because people complained.” 

Le added that it was a huge risk having international and out-of-state students possibly come back, especially if they were in the dorms.

“College students aren’t known to be the cleanest,” he said. 

Winters, however, said she thought UC Davis made the right decision in accommodating both those who wanted in-person classes and those who couldn’t return to campus.

“It’s tough to say whether students will follow the rules, no matter how strict,” she said. “In order to finally return back to normal, we would have to be on campus eventually so starting the process […] partially makes it an easier transition for the staff and students.”

Winters also said that overall, she is excited to come to the campus in the fall and proud to be part of a university that cares about student education and students’ health. 

Le was more skeptical.

“This sounds bad, but I feel like the university is using this as some sort of way to show it’s better and come through this [pandemic] as a functioning university, to overcome it and brag about it,” he said. “If you really cared about your students, you wouldn’t open it in the first place. Preventative measures are there for a reason and an environment where you can spread it is probably not the best environment to be in at all.”

The press release noted that the campus is prepared to return to reduced on-site operations at any time.

“There is certainty that the pandemic and public health guidance will evolve,” the statement said. “Working in close collaboration with public health officials and UC Davis Health experts, UC Davis will evolve too.”

Campus News Editor Kenton Goldsby contributed to this report.

Written by: Janelle Marie Salanga — campus@theaggie.org