empty campus COVID-19
January 5, 2022

For start of winter quarter, an almost-empty campus

An infection surge from the COVID-19 omicron variant led administration to move classes online for the first two weeks

Author: J.D. Warren
January 5, 2022

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has shuttered UC Riverside's classrooms, if only for a short time. 

Like most University of California campuses, UCR opted to postpone in-person instruction, owing to the emergence of the highly transmissible variant. The week of Jan. 17 was identified for returning to the classroom. While classrooms are closed, campus remains open. Residence halls, dining facilities, libraries, the bookstore, the Highlander Union Building, and the Student Recreation Center remain open, but with some reduced occupancy and hours. 

As the winter quarter begins, there is greater activity on campus than during the 2020-21 term, since residence halls are at capacity for the 2021-22 term, whereas they were at about 30% capacity for 2020-21. 

In making an announcement to the UC Riverside campus, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox cited the emergence of the omicron variant and the start of the quarter taking place as students and employees would be returning from holiday celebrations. In a subsequent email to faculty, Provost Elizabeth Watkins and Academic Senate Chair Jason Stajich reiterated Wilcox's assertion that the delayed start will allow for implementation of a robust testing protocol for students. 

Infection numbers in recent days have made the decision a prescient one. Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health reported its highest positive-test rate during the pandemic, with 20.4% of tests positive in the most recent seven-day period. Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California's indoor mask mandate has been extended to Feb. 15. The mandate had been set to expire on Jan. 15. Thus far, officials have not announced a related lockdown mandate. 

Employees and students returning to campus on Jan. 3 were asked to test, and offered a testing option with expanded hours in the Pentland Hills Bear Cave meeting room. Members of the UCR community have been urged to obtain their vaccine boosters by Jan. 31. Click here for more information on testing requirements and options. Vaccinations remain mandatory across the UC campuses.

Additional COVID-19 and return-to-campus related communications are available on the UCR Campus Return website

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