As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep the globe, college and university campuses have been deeply affected by the disease. From the very beginning, the decision of how to handle the virus has been a difficult one, with many schools struggling to balance the needs and concerns of their students, faculty, and staff with the realities of the pandemic.
One of the most significant impacts of COVID-19 on college campuses has been the shift to online learning. In addition to the shift to online learning, COVID-19 has also had a significant impact on campus life and activities. Many schools have had to cancel or postpone events such as sporting events, concerts, and other gatherings in order to reduce the risk of transmission. This has had a major impact on students, who rely on these events as a way to socialize and connect with their peers.
To protect their communities, many college and university campuses have implemented a range of measures, including mandatory mask-wearing, testing programs and social distancing guidelines,. Despite these efforts, however, many college campuses have struggled to contain outbreaks of the virus, with some schools experiencing significant outbreaks that have forced them to shut down or revert to online learning.
Today we evaluate the community health risks at University of California campuses.
This analysis is not sponsored or endorsed by the University of California. The campuses are used as representative of their communities.
UCSF with campuses located in the middle of a dense urban landscape that is currently experiencing high rates of respiratory diseases could have multiple contagious person in each classroom, putting it in the "Mask Everywhere" status. It is best advised that the classes are made remote unless indoor spaces are equipped and operated with a minimum of 12 ACH ventilation and high quality masks are mandated.
UCD is located in a more sparsely populated community that naturally results in lower prevalence of respiratory diseases especially with COVID-19 being at a level that can be managed with adequate i.e., 12+ ACH, ventilation with masking necessary only in indoor spaces such as classrooms. In a pinch, it would also be possible to ensure adequate safety by reducing the occupancy by 20% and mandating indoor masking.
The Berkeley campus is in a dense urban setting resulting in very high community health risks that require remote operation. Even the rooms had exception 12+ ACH ventilation, the number of exposures in a typical class could at least 1 per hour making, remote operation the best option, even if "Mask Everywhere" were to be mandated.
UCSC is located in a rural community that naturally results in lower prevalence of respiratory diseases especially with COVID-19 being at a level that can be managed with adequate i.e., 12+ ACH, ventilation with masking necessary only in indoor spaces such as classrooms. It would also be possible to ensure adequate safety by reducing the occupancy by 20% and mandating indoor masking.
The Merced campus is located far from urban centers and as a relatively smaller campus enjoys low community prevalence, meaning it could be operated at 90% occupancy or with 12+ ACH ventilation with indoor mask mandates.
UCSB has a large campus population but is still located in a sparsely populated area allowing for operation with up to 90% occupancy or 12+ ACH ventilation when indoor masking is mandated.
UCI is located in a suburban environment where the community prevalence is not relatively high meaning a maximum of 75% occupancy is feasible to ensure safety in the absence of 12+ ACH ventilation in the all locations in the campus. Of course, indoor masking will be required given the prevailing COVID-19 levels.
UCR is also located in suburban setting though it is more sparsely populated compared to Irvine allowing for up to 85% occupancy in the absence of 12+ ACH ventilation. Indoor masking will still be required in either scenario.
UCSD as the southern most campus with warmer weather and a sprawling open layout has low COVID-19 prevalence in the community that allow for almost 90% occupancy or 12+ ACH ventilation when indoor masking is mandated
Safety Interventions on campuses
There are several precautions that colleges and universities can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on their campuses:
Enhancing indoor air quality: The top safety measure that a campus can deploy is universal 12 ACH or higher indoor air delivery that will help with both viruses that cause COVID-19 and also with generic particulate emissions from wildfires, etc. and sleep inducing CO2.
Requiring face masks: One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing a high quality well fitting face mask such as N95 grade. Colleges and universities can require students, faculty, and staff to wear masks in all indoor spaces, as well as in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible, during times of high prevalence.
Implementing a testing program: Some colleges and universities have implemented testing programs to identify cases of COVID-19 and isolate individuals who test positive. This can help prevent outbreaks and slow the spread of the virus.
Implementing contact tracing: Contact tracing involves identifying and informing individuals who may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This can help prevent further spread of the virus by identifying and isolating individuals who may be at risk.
Implementing social distancing guidelines: To help prevent the spread of the virus, colleges can implement social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals and limiting the number of people who can gather in one place.
Providing education and resources: Providing information and resources to students, faculty, and staff about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves can help encourage individuals to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
It's important for colleges and universities to be proactive in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to be prepared to adapt their strategies as needed in response to the changing circumstances of the pandemic.
Ensuring Indoor Air Quality
Hubbub Sentinel provides live updated guidance on ensuring IAQ using HVAC, windows and air cleaners. During a pandemic surge like at present, it would be most efficient to use all available resources including DIY air cleaners aka Corsi-Rosenthal (CR) boxes that can be made with readily available materials. Follow instructions by Sri on making the CR boxes.
By ensuring adequate IAQ, a campus could also apply for and display the Clean Indoor Air Champion badge to instill confidence among staff, students and the community.
Sporting the Hubbub Sentinel badge on the website, email and apps also provides a real-time snapshot of health risks in a campus and in the community with the recommended occupancy levels and masking to minimize health risks based on epidemiological, environmental and demographic context of the campus.
You can also check your personal health risks at My Hubbub to know how to plan your day both for you current location and for places you intend to go during the day.
And sign up for My Bub alerts to automatically be alerted to health risks. My Bub even factors in the varying demographics of students vs staff when providing recommendations.