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Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

Inside this issue

Weekly COVID-19 Dashboard

Eligible boosted faculty and staff

81.2% (+2.2%)

Undergraduate students

75.4% (+3.5%)

Graduate students

73.8% (+4.6%)

Source: Immunization Dashboard. Updated Feb. 25, 2022. (Compared to Feb. 18, 2022.)

UHS tests


UC Berkeley positive cases


Source: UC Berkeley Coronavirus Dashboard. Date range: Feb. 18-24, 2022.

Message from leadership

At this point in the pandemic, the tools we have at our disposal to mitigate the spread and (probably more importantly) severe disease related to SARS-CoV-2 are well known: handwashing, masks, physical distancing, self-isolating when symptomatic, testing when needed, vaccines and medications. What’s more challenging is calculating your own risk of contracting COVID-19 and what, if any, of these measures are appropriate to employ given the wide set of variables in any particular situation. 

Now that case rates, vaccination rates and other public health metrics suggest that the omicron variant is decelerating and there is a shifting focus to preventing the most severe outcomes and minimizing health care strain, our campus (and the UC system) are stepping into alignment with the CDC, California Department of Public Health and city of Berkeley public health officials by removing the requirement for indoor masking on March 7. It is still recommended that indoor masking be used to mitigate the spread.

This doesn’t mean that an individual shouldn’t still calculate their own risk in various situations and use their best judgment to use the mitigation strategies available to them: masking and physical distancing. In most settings, we simply can’t control others' vaccination, symptom monitoring or even masking — so it remains important to know what tools we have (including campus-provided masks) to mitigate our own risk and when best to use them.

Our campus has also created processes for short-term accommodations due to pandemic-related hardships, in addition to the existing accommodations available for medical disability. In short, we realize there are family and caregiving situations that don’t fall neatly into existing definitions of disability and are working to address these concerns whenever possible.

The campus leadership recognizes that it’s hard to adjust to the reality of masks no longer being required (even if they’re still recommended in some settings). That’s why our campus will be one of the last places in the Bay Area to still require masks prior to when our mandate is lifted on March 7. These changes are indeed difficult and I encourage anyone who would feel more comfortable wearing a mask to continue to do so. But I also encourage you to grapple with the fact that the consensus within the public health community is that it is no longer necessary to mandate masking. 

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve had to make several similar adjustments and many were just as hard. In each instance, the wisdom of our Public Health Committee in evaluating and implementing the prevailing public health guidance has served us well and I continue to believe that this transition is the appropriate and necessary next step for our campus.

— Guy Nicolette, assistant vice chancellor for University Health Services

Recovery updates

Mask mandate guidance for instructors

The instructor guidance page has been updated as an additional resource for instructors (including graduate student instructors) related to the lifting of the campus’ masking mandate and will be updated as the situation evolves.

For more information on mask requirements and guidance:

Enrollment holds to be added for overdue boosters

Students who are booster eligible and overdue (30 days have passed since becoming booster eligible) will get an enrollment hold beginning Tuesday, March 1, 2022, that will apply to Spring 2022 terms and beyond.  Students who are in this category received a notice on Feb. 16 letting them know to take action. As a reminder, if you are booster eligible (five months after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna shot or two months after Johnson & Johnson) and you tested positive within the last 90 days, you should upload a copy of your positive test results to eTang and send a message to the COVID-19 Response Team to get an automatic 90-day deferral from the booster requirement.

If you receive this enrollment hold, you will need to take action to become in compliance and confirm your status in eTang. If you believe that you have complied or are in the process of complying with the booster requirement, please log into eTang and check for any errors (such as a missing vaccination record or incorrect entry of vaccination dates). Note that the eTang system updates overnight to reflect compliance and remove the enrollment hold.

When it comes to badges, blue is the new green

In last week’s Response & Recovery newsletter, it was announced that the campus is making changes to the surveillance testing requirements. For faculty, staff and students who are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, surveillance testing will no longer be required. 

This change is underway and is being rolled out in batches with the change reflected on the eTang testing badge by Friday, March 4. Once updated, the testing badge will turn to “blue” indicating surveillance testing is no longer required. Effective immediately, a blue testing badge is the same as a green badge and should be accepted at locations that have been authorized to check badges. The campus access badge will look the same but incorporate the new requirements.

Indoor events vaccine requirement updated

The City of Berkeley Public Health Officer has issued an update to the order requiring proof of vaccination for patrons and employees of certain businesses. The change increases the threshold for indoor events that require vaccination proof from 500 or more attendees to 1,000 or more attendees.

As a reminder, all events or establishments serving food indoors (regardless of the number of attendees) and gyms still require proof of vaccination. Review the events page for complete information.

Additional Emergency Paid Sick Leave available

Effective Feb. 19, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2022, UC Berkeley is providing up to 80 hours of 2022 Emergency Paid Sick Leave for full-time employees and the two-week equivalent for part-time employees. For more information, see the campus message on Emergency Paid Sick Leave.

Reminder: Update your booster status in eTang

As reflected on the campus immunization dashboard (snapshot above), the percentages of faculty, staff and students who are up to date with their vaccinations are much lower than for the initial vaccine series. If you are eligible for the booster, please be sure to get boosted and update eTang accordingly. 

Please note that due to the limitations of the eTang system, many attempts to update information were incomplete. In addition to uploading a photo of your vaccine record, you must add the date of each immunization at the bottom of the page under “COVID-19 vaccine history.” Please follow the step-by-step instructions carefully to ensure you’re updating your record correctly.

Feedback and questions

Campus leadership welcomes your recovery-related ideas and suggestions.  

Coronavirus information

Visit the campus coronavirus site for COVID-19 resources and support.

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