UC San Diego will resume operating at nearly full capacity in September
The university also may hold its June graduation ceremonies outdoors.
In a sign that institutions are anticipating the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, UC San Diego announced it will resume operating at nearly full capacity when the fall quarter begins in September.
Most students will take in-person classes, many of which will be held in the university’s largest lecture halls. The rest will study online.
UCSD estimates that about 36,000 of its 40,000 students will return to campus for classes and that its residence halls, which can hold 17,500 students, will be almost 100 percent full.
The university said it felt comfortable making the announcement because the vaccine rollout is going well nationally and it appears that 90 percent of adults will be vaccinated by late August.
Students will still be required to wear masks and practice social distancing on a campus that has received national acclaim for keeping its coronavirus infection rate low — on April 7, that rate was 0.13 percent. But in a change, they’ll only have to stay three feet apart instead of six.
“We’re ready to return to campus,” Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in a statement.
“Our students, faculty and staff went above and beyond throughout the pandemic to keep one another safe while continuing to learn, create and conduct research. While we learned many new ways to connect and serve our students over the past year, we are ready to reconnect in person, as safely as possible, in spaces specifically designed for collaborative learning and discovery.”
Khosla added that the campus will phase in athletic events and social gatherings, provided the risk of infection remains small. It is possible that UCSD will announce this week that it will hold outdoor commencement ceremonies in June.
It is likely the University of California Board of Regents will require all of the system’s students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they enroll for the fall — a policy strongly supported at UCSD.
“I think the arguments for [such a requirement] are very strong and imagine that most universities will be moving in this direction,” said Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley, who is managing UCSD’s “Return to Learn” program. “If such a decision is made, there would need to be a process to enable any medically justifiable opt-outs.” ◆
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