UC Davis is taking a unique approach to lowering its COVID-19 spread.
UC Davis is making efforts to create a bubble and protect their entire city from COVID-19.
When they began to re-open in the fall of 2020, the school decided to acknowledge the increased risk of students and locals contracting COVID-19. In an effort to protect their students while allowing them to continue school, they began to create a COVID-19 bubble.
To create this bubble, UC Davis partnered with the City of Davis and developed a program called Healthy Davis Together. The plan will provide information and updates regarding testing centers, vaccines, isolations and Davis wastewater testing efforts.
UC Davis aims to be effective in figuring out where the outbreaks are most prominent by testing waters for infected excrement. With this information, they can take action to slow the spread by encouraging those in the area to get tested and vaccinated.
Healthy Davis Together also provides testing data on their website. This allows both students and locals easy access to updates and information about outbreak trends. It also informs them when it’s safer for the at-risk to be in public spaces.
Bella Payne, a graduate student at UC Davis summarized the school’s steps as Davis “allowing a ton of people to get tested for free. Anyone who lives or works in Davis can sign up twice a week to get tested and we get the results in 24 hrs or less.” Payne continued that everyone in the community must “do a daily symptom survey and have tested negative for covid within the week to be on campus.”
She went on to explain the free testing, housing and vaccines that the school is working to offer. On Feb. 3, UC Davis began slowly rolling out vaccines.
“As vaccine doses become available, we will allocate and administer them according to the state and county tiers – at this time, primarily to UC Davis employees. UC Davis will open scheduling according to these tiers as doses become available. Please check back on this page as tiers continue to be updated and more appointments become available for eligible groups,” said UC Davis in a statement.
Currently, the campus is vaccinating their healthcare workers and those in direct contact with infected persons as well as students and faculty over 65. Beginning Feb. 10, they will begin vaccinating all ‘in-person’ faculty, childcare workers, agriculture specialists and campus dining employees. They plan to continue vaccinating more people groups as vaccines become available.
“We encourage you to take the first vaccine you are offered – by your healthcare provider or by UC Davis clinics,” stated Davis’ recent Instagram post.
Many schools have been receiving heat for re-opening their campuses since their youthful student populations tend to hang out in public spaces such as coffee shops and bars. San Diego State University received many complaints from locals when some students returned to campus in fall 2020.
One San Diego native stated, “But it’s so that they can socialize, and socializing in and of itself isn’t a problem, but huge parties with no masks and no social distancing is a problem,” stated one San Diego native.
Since it’s difficult to fully separate locals from students, they decided to include the entire city in their safety bubble.
UC Davis’ mission to encourage a safe and healthy community doesn’t stop at vaccinations. They’ve also been encouraging the normalization of masking wearing and social distancing on their Instagram. Recently, they hosted an ironically titled “Every Aggie Together” mask contest. Students were encouraged to post mask-related artwork and photos on their social media. The contest seemed to have student support; one student commented on their contest announcement, “Go Ags!!!”
Davis may be paving the way for campuses to begin safely reopening during the pandemic. Many schools can look to their example in offering a bubble community or safe haven for students and neighbors.