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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

UC Davis enters first quarter without mask mandate since 2020

Changes to COVID-19 guidelines allow students the option to return to classes post-spring break without masks

By ANGELINA ANGELO and MONICA MANMADKAR — campus@theaggie.org

 

This quarter, students have the option to not wear a mask in indoor settings on campus. The mask mandate was lifted on March 19, the first day of spring break, but in a newsletter sent out on March 8, Chancellor Gary May stated that people who choose to wear masks are encouraged to do so. Masks are still strongly recommended by UC Davis Public Health Officials for both the unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. 

The university supports those who wish to continue to mask indoors, including those who are immunocompromised or otherwise concerned,” the announcement regarding the change to indoor masking states.

Provost Mary Croughan predicted that many students will continue to wear masks even though they are no longer required to protect themselves and others.

“Just like our return to in-person instruction in fall of 2020, this change will likely take two weeks for students to become more comfortable, make adjustments and return to a sense of normalcy,” Croughan said.

With over 99% of students and 96% of staff vaccinated, the positivity rate for COVID-19 has been consistently low since the omicron spike in early winter quarter. In the last 30 days, the positivity rate has been 0.15% with 83 positive results among 55,256 asymptomatic tests. 

“The virus is doing exactly what [the medical community] expects a virus to do,” Croughan said. “The virus will likely continue to mutate, and while the future is unknown, we have strong precautions in place. We have high vaccination rates, treatments for early-onset sickness and a great testing program. We also still strongly encourage wearing a mask, as it reduces your risk of infection by 95%, according to officials.”

Croughan shared that some instructors are particularly happy with the lifted mask mandate, as they have experienced issues teaching through a mask, while others feel anxious about the new protocol. In addition to faculty concerns, some students express heightened anxiety with the upcoming change.

“It’s interesting to see that we are heading in the right direction for a more maskless school year, but it is still important to be cautious about a potential uptick in cases as we are all returning to campus post-spring break,” said Jack Fagan, a first-year undergraduate student. “Wearing masks around campus, for the time being, is important for now.”

Croughan said she sympathizes with students experiencing fear and anxieties and recommended students contact instructors individually.

“I recommend students to visit the Student Disability Center to receive support,” Croughan said. “For short-term adjustments or issues, students should also reach out to individual faculty members or their advisors. Hybrid and adjustment options are solely up to faculty and the Academic Senate.”

Continuing in spring quarter, faculty also have the option to submit a request for student assistance to lecture capture all in-person instruction. Many faculty are taking advantage of this program, while some lecturers prefer to record themselves, according to Croughan.

Along with instructors and the administration, many students working on campus have also had to adjust during these unknown times. Alessandra Beelen, a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology student, shared her thoughts on the lifting of the mandate as it pertains to her position as a community advisor living in Segundo.  

“On a practical level, my job will be easier, as many residents have not been following the mask policies,” Beelen said. “There will be less documenting that will need to be done, and on a safety level, I don’t think that much will change as our residents hang out in other settings maskless already. It’s been odd telling them to wear a mask in the halls when I know they are elsewhere not wearing masks.”

Despite changes in masking policy, the testing policy will remain the same as winter quarter. Students and staff who have not received their booster shot or are not vaccinated will continue to get tested every four days, while the vaccinated public are expected to test every two weeks. All students living in residence halls will also return to testing every two weeks.

Any further updates can be found on the Campus Ready dashboard.

 

Written by: Angelina Angelo and Monica Manmadkar — campus@theaggie.org

 

 

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