UCLA Administration Discussed In-Person Classes, Vaccination Requirements at Online Townhall

Image via UCLA Campus News Room

By Ishani Desai 

UCLA administrators held a town hall to announce plans for in-person classes and COVID-19 protocols during the fall quarter.

Classes with more than 60 students will be held remotely. Discussion sections will be held in person. Overall, 70% to 80% of courses will be offered in person, said Megan McEvoy, chair of the Academic Senate Undergraduate Council,

Though many classes will be in person, COVID-19 protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing measures will be implemented.

All students and faculty living, learning, or working on campus need to provide vaccination proof or apply for exemption based on religious or personal beliefs and medical reasons, said John Bollard, the co-executive director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.

If a person were to receive an exemption according to that belief, that would require them to wear a mask and undergo continuous testing. The COVID-19 tests will be rolled out over campus via vending machines and students can receive their results within 24 hours.

However, the vaccination mandate will not go into effect once full FDA authorization is granted. Vaccines are only eligible to be distributed under emergency authorizations via FDA guidelines.

UCLA Health system will also offer vaccines through MyTurn for its students or through the Ashe Portal. MyTurn is the online portal to book a vaccination appointment.

“We are all here to look out for each other,” Bollard said.

International students who received a vaccine outside of the U.S. may not have to be re-vaccinated once they are in the U.S. with an FDA-approved vaccine. However, UCLA will review these vaccines person-by-person to smooth over any frustrations.

The number of housing units available will be dependent on the guidelines released by the LA County Department of Public Health, said Pete Angelis, the assistant vice chancellor of UCLA Housing & Hospitality Services. The main determinant of triple and double offerings depends on the percentage of students vaccinated.

If triple-housing is offered, then housing offers to freshmen, sophomores, and first-year transfer students can be made, Angelis said. UCLA currently only offers housing to incoming first-years and second-years, plus incoming first-year transfer students for the fall quarter. The class of 2022 transfer students may not be eligible to receive on-campus housing.

Graduation plans are not a fully-fledged commencement ceremony, but rather a celebration, said Susan Ettner. UCLA students can bring two guests to accompany them to the ceremony, according to recently changed guidelines by the LACDPH.

These plans are contingent upon the number of students that can be vaccinated and the case number in LA County, said Michael Meranze, the co-chair of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force.

The UCLA administration has created the Bruin Public Health Ambassadors, a program that will hire students to remind mask-wearing, enforce social distancing measures and direct visitors to sanitation stations. There will also be a whistleblower hotline for students to report those that break the COVID-19 protocols.

The Bruin Public Health Ambassadors will hire 80 to 100 students and mainly serve to educate those that forego any safety protocols. Students can still be suspended from on-campus housing if COVID-19 safety enforcement measures are not abided.

Summer classes will be mostly online, but many could have classes in person. If a class has already been designated as online, that guideline will stick.

“We are hoping that a majority of instruction will be in person,” Meranze. “My hope is to keep moving forward so that students, faculty and staff can have a relatively normal and safer experience in the fall and beyond.”

For those with medical conditions, there are still policies developed to accommodate any disabilities to attend classes in person.

UCLA has kept its COVID-19 positive test outbreaks low. Recent spikes are seen post-spring break and march madness celebrations. There were not faulty or staff cases in the past week, ever since UCLA started testing these subsets of people, Bollard said.

300,000 COVID tests on campus and most people are being tested since March. Even people that are vaccinated need to be tested.

Without vaccination or approval of exemption, people cannot attend their in-person classes without testing and mask-wearing, Bollard said. (44:20)

The Bruin Surveillance program, which contracts track those that test positive will still be implemented.

Many students will not have to undergo a COVID-19 test if they are vaccinated, said John Bollard. Contingency upon this fall upon the number of students and the positivity rate of COVID-19 in LA County, Bollard said.

“We are all here to look out for each other,” John Bollard.

Ishani Desai is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s campus and city desk. She is a history major at UCLA, originally from Bakersfield, CA.

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