January 2021

Dear UCSB Students,
Welcome to winter quarter and best wishes for 2021! We look forward to another innovative quarter that challenges all of us to engage with campus in new ways while keeping ourselves and our community safe and healthy.

In this communication we are providing information about:
  • The current COVID-19 crisis in southern California and Santa Barbara County
  • Requirements to test, sequester, and re-test if new to or returning to the Santa Barbara/Isla Vista area
  • Free COVID-19 testing for all students through Student Health and in Isla Vista
  • COVID-19 vaccination and pushing through the remainder of the pandemic
  • Resources for students
The Current COVID-19 Crisis in Southern California and Santa Barbara County

As we know you are aware, southern California, including our Santa Barbara area, is experiencing crisis levels of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Our local hospitals are at capacity and overwhelmed, and the situation has been described as dire.

It continues to be of utmost importance to abide by state regional stay at home orders that call for all residents to limit outings to only those that are absolutely essential (for example: grocery shopping and medical care), and to avoid gathering with anyone outside of your immediate household. Face coverings are also required in all public places in California, and you are asked to keep at least six feet of distance from anyone not in your immediate household. Please note, your “household” refers only to those in your unit and does not include all residents of a housing complex.

Spending time outdoors is acceptable as long as you are wearing a face covering and keeping six feet of physical distance from others. Please also consider your choices around alcohol and substance use and exercise extreme caution when participating in outdoor activities. This is not a good time to require emergency services.

Requirements to Test, Sequester, and Re-Test if New or Returning to Santa Barbara/Isla Vista

If you have just moved or returned to the Santa Barbara or Isla Vista area, you are expected to get tested, sequester for 7 days (14 days if you have been out-of-state or out of the country), and then get re-tested at day 7 (day 10-12 if out-of-state or out of the country) before resuming any activities that may put you in contact with others, including your housemates.

Sequestering means not leaving your residence unless absolutely necessary. You should plan for someone to assist you with grocery or food delivery and essential errands during your sequestration period.

Free COVID-19 Testing for all Students Through Student Health and in Isla Vista

UCSB is offering COVID-19 testing by appointment and at no charge to all UCSB students, regardless of insurance, throughout the winter quarter. For the small number of students who may have in-person classes at some point during the winter quarter and/or students with jobs on campus or who are moving into University housing, UCSB will be requiring weekly testing and a daily COVID symptom screen. Compliance will be monitored and missed tests or screening could impact your ability to remain in class, at your job, or in University housing. Students moving into UCSB housing have received detailed and explicit information about expectations for testing, screening, and sequestration, which can be found here.

Santa Barbara County will also be offering free testing to local residents with a walk-in (no appointments) testing site at Isla Vista Theater from Noon-5pm on Fridays and Saturdays beginning January 8. UCSB students are encouraged to utilize the campus’s testing facilities whenever possible to keep the IV Theater site available for other local residents.    

COVID-19 Vaccination and Pushing Through the Remainder of the Pandemic

UCSB front-line essential health-care workers and COVID-19-testing site employees have begun to receive vaccines this week under the framework established by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which is based on the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Phased Allocation guidance. Until the vaccine supply meets the demand, UCSB will be following the phased release of vaccines as set forth by the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBCPHD). More information will be forthcoming from the campus about faculty, staff, and student eligibility and timing for vaccination. High-risk individuals will be prioritized within those categories. There can be no exceptions.    

As we begin the steps to end this pandemic, we feel hopeful, but while cases are spiking in California we must continue to be extra vigilant. There can be no social gatherings and we implore students to follow the stay-at-home order!

Wearing a face covering and social distancing are still the most effective measures you can take to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to recent studies, this prevents 87% of campus COVID cases, and does so cost effectively.

Resources for Students

UCSB continues to offer a broad array of student services from counseling to recreation and wellness activities. All services are open and can be accessed virtually through campus websites and UCSB’s engagement platform “Shoreline.” This month you will be receiving an invitation to complete our mental health on-line module. Fall and winter new students are required to complete the module. It is highly recommended as a refresher for all other students. 
Please continue to take care of yourselves during this difficult time and do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. Together, we will get through this. 
Margaret Klawunn
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Vejas Skripkus, M.D.
Executive Director, Student Health & University Physician
Regional Stay-at-Home Order: What You Need to Know When in effect, Californians must not gather, certain sectors will close, and sectors still open will require 100% masking and physical distancing. With less spread, we will preserve hospital capacity, protect those most at-risk, and save lives. Visit covid19.ca.gov for more information.

Images from the California Public Health Department's Twitter (@CAPublicHealth). Visit the CA Department of Public Health website and the Official California State Government website for additional information. 

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