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UCI Extends Period of Remote Instruction Through Jan. 28

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UCI will extend the period of virtual instruction through Jan. 28, according to a message from Chancellor Howard Gillman released on Jan. 6. The campus will remain fully operational.

He noted that UCI’s testing positivity rate is over 13% since Jan. 2 and that Orange County is a COVID-19 “hot spot,” with a positivity rate over 25%.

Gillman also noted that models suggest a “relatively short-lasting” Omicron surge and stressed the importance of testing when it is required.

According to the COVID-19 dashboard, 98% of students and 96% of staff and faculty are vaccinated. From Dec. 14 through Jan. 2, UCI had 415 positive COVID-19 cases compared to a total of 326 positive cases over the duration of the Fall 2021 quarter.

On Dec. 22, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Willie L. Banks Jr. released a message containing information about the return to campus. The period of remote instruction was initially scheduled to end on Jan. 14.

All eligible students are required to receive boosters and upload verification by Jan. 31. Students are considered eligible if they received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination series at least six months ago, or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago. Students can upload proof of their booster shot to the Student Health Patient Portal.

Additionally, students were encouraged to receive a COVID-19 test, available at most pharmacies, no more than 72 hours before returning to campus.

Upon returning to campus, resident students (living in Student Housing or ACC Communities) are instructed to pick up two free antigen self-test kits, available at every housing community’s front office and at asymptomatic testing sites. One test should be used upon arrival, and the other five days later. If either test is positive, students should immediately make an appointment at a campus testing site or complete a walk-in test.

Students should also sequester for seven days upon arrival, leaving residences only for essential activities such as picking up meals or obtaining healthcare services.

Commuter students should test within 72 hours after their return to campus by scheduling an appointment through the Student Health Patient Portal.

Through Jan. 28, some campus services will be impacted. The Anteatery and Brandywine will not have dine-in seating and will be open for to-go only. Student events and activities will be virtual.

First-year film and media studies major Autumn Norwood shared her opinion of the period of remote instruction.

“I feel UCI’s decision to extend the period of remote instruction shows that they care about the well-being of their students,” Norwood said. “They aren’t taking any chances because they take the virus seriously.”

First-year political science major Casey Engelschall also shared her opinion on the decision to extend remote learning.

“UCI’s decision to extend remote learning for an additional two weeks is both a good and bad idea, in my opinion. I want to help stop the spread of the new COVID-19 variant, and with more and more people testing positive, it appears that this is the best course of action for our campus at this time,” Engelschall said. “It’s a bummer because I know a lot of students, like myself, have trouble learning online and also look forward to the social aspects of in-person class.”

Engelschall discussed what the rest of the winter quarter might look like.

“If anything changes, I believe UCI should either make the rest of the quarter online or return to in-person sessions so that students are not given a false picture of the quarter,” Engelschall said. “But this begs the question of whether there will be any constraints if we return to in-person classes. In the meantime I hope that we continue preventing the spread of COVID-19 and that all students and staff are safe and healthy.”

First-year Criminology, Law and Society major Carlyn Nicole Albayalde shared her thoughts on the extension of virtual instruction.

“Personally, UCI’s extension of remote instruction was not a huge surprise to me. The large gatherings throughout winter break such as concerts, raves, etc. were already windows to exposure,” Albayalde said. “I am sure that there are people who stay at home to contain this spread, but the amount of people still risking this virus is still [too many] in order to make small steps to normalcy.”

Albayalde also shared her thoughts on how the campus can safely return in-person.

“The willingness of a large majority of people to comply in testing, sequestering, and retesting, as well as limiting oneself in areas, places, or gatherings that may be at-risk for spreading the virus, are big steps to help the community return to normal (in-person). However, reality shows people out and about being indifferent to this new surge,” Albayalde said. “I strongly believe that it is not until the majority decides to help each other by complying [with] COVID-19 instructions and staying at home for the meantime can there be significant changes.”

Several more students voiced their opinions under a post by the official UCI Instagram account, @ucirvine.

“Thank you for prioritizing everyone’s health first,” one student said.

“Why not just make the entire quarter remote?” another commenter asked.

“Y’all reimbursing [us] for our parking passes or rent this month?” another student asked.

Members of the UCI community can contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 949-824-9918 or covid19@uci.edu with questions or concerns.

Chrissy Park is a Campus News Intern for the winter 2022 quarter. She can be reached at chrip10@uci.edu.