Student reading outside on the UC Davis campus.

‘We’ll Get Through This, Together’

Chancellor Gary S. May issued this letter to the campus community, the first of a series of Friday updates on COVID-19, today (March 20):

Last night, as you know, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for the entire state. The day before, we announced we were suspending operations, meaning most of our employees should already be at home where the governor wants you to be, and where we want you to be, for the sake of your own health and to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. For that reason, there are no additional measures we need to take in response to the governor’s order.

Of course, as we spelled out in our March 18 message, UC Davis will not shut down completely. We are very grateful to our staff members who are still coming to campus to care for animals and crops, and to maintain key facilities and services ... and to our campus firefighters and police officers who are still on the job ... and to the professionals and staff at our medical center and veterinary hospital, where we continue to care for the most vulnerable patients. Other important work continues from people’s homes, where staff members are providing services for our current students as well as our prospective and admitted students.

While all this goes on, we have learned of our first confirmed case of COVID-19 — an employee of UC Davis Health — and there will likely be more, further strengthening our resolve to do all we can to fight this outbreak.

Much of our research is ramping down, but when it comes to the coronavirus, our efforts continue apace. Yesterday, UC Davis Health ran its first batch of testing on 20 UC Davis patients referred by our infectious diseases team. Over the next few weeks, we will ramp up to 200 tests a day.

Our coronavirus testing grows out of work by clinical pathologists, infectious disease physicians and scientists at the medical center, the California National Primate Research Center and the Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, who are collaborating in a number of areas, including on development of a vaccine, as described in a news release yesterday.

As final exams conclude this week, our students are making their way home or staying in Davis for spring quarter, when courses will proceed following the campus directives issued March 15. Our dedicated, creative faculty are working through spring break to be ready to teach from a distance, and they are receiving assistance from a number of sources, including our Keep Teaching website, a project of an amazing collaboration of Academic Technology Services and the Center for Educational Effectiveness.

One example of creativity in remote education is a First-Year Seminar on the “Maker Revolution,” for which physics professor Shirley Chiang is developing home-based maker spaces — custom kits will be delivered to students’ homes — comprising a limited but versatile set of resources with which students can innovate, create and think outside the box as they solve assigned problems.

Information and Educational Technology and other campus units are assisting students on the computer front — first by providing additional laptops for online final exams and now by loaning laptops for the spring quarter, to students with financial need who do not have the best set-up at home for remote instruction. You can read more about this terrific project in Dateline.

In addition, I hope all of our students take this short survey about your technology readiness and employment plans for spring quarter. Responses are due by next Wednesday (March 25).

We’ve also provided a student-focused COVID-19 FAQ, and we want students to know we are continuing to assist with basic needs through the Aggie Compass and the student-run Pantry. Wednesday, I joined a number of other volunteers at The Pantry, where we restocked the shelves while student workers were off for finals.

For employees and others, Finance, Operations and Administration has posted information on:

In addition, our WorkLife manager, Sandy Batchelor, has gathered information for parents about homeschooling and how to find child care, among other topics.

I also want to take this opportunity to share this new document from UC’s Council of Chief Diversity Officers, including our own Renetta Garrison Tull, on the importance of providing a supportive positive and inclusive campus climate during the COVID-19 crisis — the same as we aspire to in our Principles of Community.

I am proud of how all of you are stepping up to meet the COVID-19 challenge, supporting our community and making do during all the disruption. With your commitment, patience and understanding, our students will have their spring quarter, albeit in a different way. Our fourth-year medical students will have their Match Day (it’s today!), celebrating together virtually, on social media (#ucdsomMatch2020) when they learn where they’ve been accepted for residencies.

From Davis to Sacramento and beyond, our university will continue its 105-year mission of teaching, research and public service.

We will get through this, together.


Gary S. May

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