Return to Campus: Important Information and Updates

Dear UCI Community,

Happy New Year! We hope you and your loved-ones had a joyous and healthy holiday, with opportunities to rest and prepare for the year ahead.

As we expected, COVID-19 did not take a break during the winter recess. Over the last three weeks, nearly as many members of our community have tested positive for the virus than in the entire 10-week fall quarter. Orange County and other regions throughout the world are experiencing similar increases.

Anticipating this surge, and recognizing that many of us travel and celebrate in groups during the holidays, the Chancellor announced last month that instruction during the first two weeks of the winter quarter, January 3 through 14, will be remote. This gives us time to properly assess our environment through testing, sequestration, and retesting.   

We understand that this is not an ideal way to kick off the new year. We are committed to in-person learning, and believe that these protocols will help us return as quickly and safely as possible.

To assist your return to campus, important points of information are summarized below. Please review carefully. Much of this information is identical to what was sent before winter break, but we have updated some processes to ensure that we respond quickly to the anticipated volume of cases. Remember to check the UCI Forward website or contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 949-824-9918 or covid19@uci.edu if you have any questions, comments or concerns.

For all members of our community

  • Complete the Symptom Checker every day.
  • If you have symptoms or were exposed to someone who was ill, seek testing and follow guidance for cases and close contacts provided by the California Department of Public Health.
    • Get a test as soon as possible at a location that is most accessible to you, including at home with a self-testing kit, on campus (Student Center, University Club and Palo Verde), local pharmacies, medical offices, or other community providers.
    • Do not wait for a response to the Symptom Checker or communication from the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, Student Health, or Contract Tracing and Navigation Services. This includes those who expected communication during winter recess and have not been contacted. If you have symptoms or believe you have been exposed, please seek testing as soon as possible.
    • If your test is positive, follow guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health until you have met the criteria for completing isolation.
      • If your test was taken offsite, please report the positive test result through the COVID-19 Response Center’s established case reporting process.
      • Contact Tracing and Vaccine Navigation Services may not be able to reach out to all those testing positive in the coming weeks because of the expected high volume. Follow isolation and quarantine guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health. Updates and instructions may also come via campus email for employees or secure message from Student Health.
  • Even if you are asymptomatic, we encourage you to get a test within 72 hours before returning to campus.
    • Testing is generally available at most pharmacies (in person and at-home kits), medical offices and pop-up community sites. 
  • Get your booster as soon as you are eligible, then upload the verification through the Student or Occupational Health portals. Boosters will be required for all eligible staff, faculty and students by January 31, 2022.
    • You are eligible if it has been six months or more since you got the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series (Pfizer, Moderna) or two months or more since you got a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
    • Those who are boosted and upload their verification by Friday, January 7, will be entered into a drawing to win one of 100 $50 Amazon gift cards. (Those who have already uploaded their booster, or were boosted through Student or Occupational Health, are automatically eligible for the drawing.)
  • Practice healthy habits and take reasonable precautions: wear a mask indoors, maintain physical distancing, continue hand hygiene, limit your exposure to larger gatherings, and avoid contact with those who are unvaccinated.

For Resident Students

In addition to the points above, please see the specific instructions sent to you earlier, which are summarized below.

  • Two antigen self-test kits will be available at your housing community and at the campus testing sites beginning Monday, January 3.
  • You will use these kits to test, sequester and re-test during the two-week remote-instruction period, January 3 through 14.
    • Use one test upon arrival and the other five days later.
    • Sequester for seven days. During this time, you and your dependents should leave your residence only for essential activities – such as work, food pick-up, or medical care – or to participate in low-risk outdoor recreation. Avoid large gatherings, such as athletic events, movie theaters, or indoor concerts.
    • If you test positive with either test, make an appointment at a campus testing site through the Student Health Center patient portal immediately. Walk-in testing without an appointment is also available. Stay in your room, minimize contact with others, and wear a face covering except while sleeping. 
      • If the follow-up PCR test taken at the campus testing site is positive, Contact Tracing and Vaccine Navigation Services or Housing will reach out to you with guidance and instructions.
  • You should carefully plan your campus arrival to accommodate the testing protocol. If in-person classes are possible on January 18, you will need to arrive by January 11 and initiate the seven-day protocol if you would like to attend in person. If you arrive later in the month you must begin the testing and sequestration process once you arrive on campus.
  • If you are an unvaccinated student with an approved exemption, this antigen test does not replace your requirement to test weekly.

For Commuter Students

For Faculty and Staff

  • Please follow the points listed for “all members of our community,” above.
  • A test during the first week of arriving on campus is strongly recommended. You may drop-in at the campus testing sites or schedule a test here
    • If your test is positive, contact your supervisor and do not return to campus. Follow guidance from the California Department of Public Health for isolation. Once you have met the criteria for completing isolation, you may return to campus.

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked together as a community to support our friends, neighbors and colleagues. This admirable spirit of “we’re in this together” played a vital role in keeping our infection rates consistently lower than those of the surrounding region. Thank you for your diligence, consideration and cooperation during this extraordinary period. We encourage you to continue these efforts in the weeks ahead.

May you have a healthy, happy and successful 2022.

Hal SternProvost and Executive Vice Chancellor

Ramona AgrelaChief Human Resources Officer & Vice Chancellor

Willie L. Banks Jr.Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs

Steve GoldsteinVice Chancellor, Health Affairs