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Saturday, January 22, 2022

UC Davis extends remote instruction until Jan. 28 following push by students, faculty, staff

Rising COVID-19 case numbers due to the omicron variant have led the university to continue online instruction for three additional weeks

By KATHLEEN QUINN— campus@theaggie.org

UC Davis will continue remote instruction until Jan. 28, after initially proposing a return to in-person instruction beginning Jan. 10, according to an announcement from Chancellor Gary May on Jan. 6. 

This decision was made after positive cases for COVID-19 skyrocketed during the first week of instruction. As of Jan. 5, 4.3% of asymptomatic tests have returned positive with 782 positive results overall over the past seven days.

Campus leadership is comprised of human beings,” May said in the email announcement. “We don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future. We weigh all of the data, consult with experts and review all relevant information before we make decisions that impact 70,000 people in our community.”

Hemant Bhargava, a professor of business management at UC Davis, specializes in decision sciences and decision analysis. He wrote an article shortly after the announcement to hold classes online for the first week of winter quarter, criticizing the administration for not making a clear and transparent decision earlier.

“I’m beginning to see challenges […] because of the way the decision has been made,” Bhargava said. “Students are confused and they don’t know what to plan for and it makes my job difficult as well.”

Before the announcement to continue remote instruction, many students took to the UC Davis subreddit to express their anxiety about returning to campus instruction Jan. 10.

Third-year Native American studies student adnan Minasian collaborated with over a dozen individuals including teaching and non-teaching staff and students to create an online petition to be sent to UC Davis administrators demanding online options be made available to students this quarter. As of Jan. 6, the petition has reached over 6,000 signatures.

“I think my biggest concern is the disregard for people who are higher risk,” Minasian said in reference to the university’s original announcement. “It feels like the school has basically said, ‘We all decided to make your own personal health decisions for you.’”

A few hours before the announcement was sent out, ASUCD Letter in Support of Academic Accomodations expressing concern about the decision to return to in-person Jan. 10. The letter urged the university to extend online instruction for another week as well as an extension of Pass/No Pass until the end of the quarter.

In the announcement on Jan. 6, May emphasized that although the positive tests are rising, Davis still has lower case numbers than most other areas in California. The seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate for California is 18.7%.

Daniel Muhammad, a third-year psychology major, said the administration should have made a decision based on available information sooner.

“I think that the UC system is very used to making decisions seconds of, rather than thinking ahead,” Muhammad said.

A follow-up update will be coming in the next “Checking In with Chancellor May” letter on Jan. 14.

Written by: Kathleen Quinn — campus@theaggie.org

Jennifer Ma also contributed to this report.

This story is developing, check back for updates.

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