Spring Return to Campuses and COVID Update

December 18, 2021

To:  University Community
From:  Vice President for Administration Michelle Rogers and the COVID Task Force
Subject:  Spring Return to Campuses and COVID Update

We hope you are enjoying the start of the winter break and can safely spend time with your families and friends. Given the increase in COVID-19 positivity rates in San Bernardino County and others across the state and the nation, we are writing to let you know that the COVID Task Force is carefully monitoring the current state of the pandemic and the impact of the Omicron, Delta, and other variants. We are still planning for a full reopening of our campuses this January for the start of the spring semester.

Both scientific studies and real-world data have added to the evidence that Omicron is more (highly) contagious than any previous version of the COVID-19 virus, has an incubation period of about 2.5 days, and is replicating quickly. That data also indicates that:

  • Unvaccinated adults are at even greater risk than they were a few weeks ago.
  • Omicron presents only a very small risk of serious illness to most vaccinated people.
  • Omicron can evade antibodies produced by either vaccination or infection with previous variants; breakthrough cases will be prevalent.
  • Booster doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines offer a substantial increase in protection against Omicron in early studies.
  • Omicron does not appear to cause more severe illness than earlier versions of the virus.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is predicting a wave of infections caused by the Omicron variant in the U.S. as soon as January.

With guidance from public health authorities, we are developing temporary enhanced health and safety protocols to protect members of our campus communities. The plan we are developing for our return is based on data and evidence-based recommendations about safely operating and providing the best educational experience for our students' education, development, and well-being. Additionally, the COVID Task Force has worked on a contingency plan in the event of a major outbreak on one or more of our campuses.

The Cabinet will be meeting over the winter break to evaluate the situation and make determinations about the January return.

If there are any changes to the modality or start date of the spring semester, they will be communicated to the community by Dec. 28. Our enhanced safety protocols will be published by Jan. 2 at the latest.  We understand that employees will return on January 3, and will make sure that any changes are reasonable in terms of scope and implementation. Please understand that this is a developing situation and we currently do not have any additional information to share. Our primary goals are to keep you safe and to meet our educational mission.

Thank you and happy holidays.