coronavirus pandemic

UCSD Students Return to Campus for Winter Quarter Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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UCSD students have officially returned to campus for the winter quarter but are facing a school environment with a much different look and feel from what they're used to.

Students who returned to campus in the fall came face-to-face with new changes but the winter season and rising COVID-19 cases have prompted officials to bring additional changes to campus life.

One of the visible changes students will see are large outdoor tents propped up on outdoor grounds. NBC 7 spoke with UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla who said the outdoor arrangements will be in addition to indoor classes.

"We wanted to make sure that we are not only fixing ventilation in our building but also building tents outside so we can teach outside which is naturally ventilated," Chancellor Khosla said.

But tent classrooms aren't the only addition. Vending machines are also scattered around campus dispensing COVID-19 tests.

The university is now requiring students to test every week and frequent these machines. The chancellor says efforts are being taken to keep the machines sanitized.

"The machines are being cleaned no different than the classrooms or the surfaces of the desks right," Chancellor Khosla says. "We are following the cleaning protocols same as before."

And it will be on the students themselves to get the tests done. The chancellor says students will not be penalized for passing on a test, however, students and their tests will be tracked and reminder emails will be sent to those who've skipped a COVID-19 test. According to the chancellor, the university has done its research and hopes frequent testing will help curb COVID-19 numbers.

"If we test once a week, we can limit the likelihood of transmission significantly," Chancellor Khosla said.

The vending machines and outdoor tents are new to the UCSD campus, but other programs like wastewater testing were able to make significant strides in the fall quarter. The chancellor said the wastewater testing program will be ramped up in the winter.

Chancellor Khosla said much hasn't changed from the fall when it comes to volume. They're seeing the same incoming student numbers as the fall quarter, where the number of people allowed in a classroom, the number of in-person classes permitted, and the total amount of students on campus are staying relatively the same.

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