An important update on masking and testing policies on campus.
Due to a significant increase in COVID case positivity on campus over the past two days, out of an abundance of caution the COVID Operations Group is reinstating our mandatory indoor masking policy and once-a-week required testing for all students, faculty and staff effective today.
Our preliminary assessment and contact tracing suggest a number of factors are at work. L.A. County officials report that the presence of the BA2 variant, which is more transmissible (though not more severe in its effects than the earlier Omicron variant), is growing and is now the dominant form of COVID in California and nationwide. While we cannot control the impact of relaxed masking rules across the county, consistent with our past practice we believe it is prudent to take appropriate steps now to limit the risk of transmission on campus and among the Oxy community.
Our testing data thus far this week shows positivity has been concentrated among students (there have been zero positives from employee tests so far this week) and many students report having been close contacts of other students or attending off campus social events over the weekend. As has been the case throughout this semester, positive cases have shown low to no symptoms. We continue to follow our standard isolation procedures for all students who test positive.
We want to urge everyone to continue to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect ourselves and others. In addition:
We also strongly recommend masking outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
As has been the case with our past policy, masks should be surgical grade or higher
Individual students in their rooms and individual employees in private offices are not required to mask.
As a reminder, guests are still not allowed in our residence halls, per COVID guidelines.
We are also suspending any indoor catering for events, effective tomorrow.
As the pandemic continues to evolve, we need to continue to be flexible in our response. We understand that there will be questions about the impact of the latest developments on other College policies and upcoming events. Look for further updates later this week. As always, you can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID Operations Group (COG)
Harry J. Elam, Jr., President
Sharla Fett, Faculty Council President, Professor of American History
Rob Flot, Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
Amos Himmelstein, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Nora Kahn, General Counsel
Devon Sakamoto, Assistant Dean of Students for Emmons Wellness Center
Marty Sharkey, Vice President of Communications & Institutional Initiatives
Wendy Sternberg, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
James Uhrich, Vice President for Information Technology Services & Chief Information Officer