UC Santa Barbara announced a reduction in its COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Winter Quarter 2023 in a Nov. 18 email to the campus community, citing low COVID-19 positivity rates. The changes come in light of the decreasing number of weekly tests being performed on campus and the general growing availability of at-home rapid antigen tests, according to the UCSB COVID-19 Response Team.
Shifting its focus to providing at-home rapid antigen tests for asymptomatic community members, UCSB will discontinue its COVID-19 testing center at Building 434 and end PCR testing on campus entirely. Rapid test results can still be self-reported via the Student Health Service (SHS) Patient Portal, and the university will continue to distribute rapid antigen tests at various campus locations at no cost.
Those who still wish to receive COVID-19 PCR testing can make an appointment via SHS, and symptomatic employees can consult with their healthcare provider or a local pharmacy on the next steps, the email read.
Community members who have approved COVID-19 vaccine exemptions or are not up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will no longer be mandated to test weekly, and campus isolation housing will also be discontinued. Those seeking advice on isolation can receive consultation through their SHS Patient Portals.
The email also notified the campus that annual influenza shots or notification of exemption are due by Dec. 1 for all students, faculty and staff under the University of California Policy on Vaccination Programs.
The changes will be enacted across all other UC campuses and are in alignment with current public health guidelines, according to the COVID-19 Response Team email.