UC San Diego keeps COVID-19 cases low, thanks to Return to Learn program on campus

UC San Diego admits more local, first-generation students
Posted at 3:18 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 21:29:28-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - UC San Diego's Return to Learn program shows it is possible to bend the curve.

The university said in a statement they have a 1% coronavirus positivity rate among roughly 20,000 students who live and commute to campus. This compared to thecounty's 12% average.

"We have been very lucky with our student body, they have been extremely good about not just being part of the problem, but part of the solution," Dr. Robert Schooley, architect of the Return to Learn program as well as professor of medicine, said.

When asked what about the program made it successful, Dr. Schooley replied, "I think the most important parts about it were to understand how this virus is transmitted and to take advantages of its weaknesses."

He said the students bought in to the university's guidelines, including wearing masks indoors and out, social distancing and testing on a consistent basis.

"We tried to make the testing extremely easy for people with vending machines on campus. We wanted it to be as easy as brushing your teeth," he said.

The university set aside 600 rooms to quarantine anyone found to be positive.

The constant testing, combined with quick results meant students were isolated before they had a chance to infect others.

Dr. Schooley said they adjusted the frequency of testing in real-time depending on the county's rate of spread.

"It became clear that testing more frequently would help us keep the virus away from our students, our faculty and our staff," he said.

He said the financial investment in testing was priceless and kept the university open.

"Next fall is hopefully going to be a great return to college life as we all knew it," Dr. Schooley said.

He said other institutions shouldn't necessarily copy their model but look at the components and see what could work for them.

Dr. Schooley added the vaccine is extremely important to get administered to the public, adding the sooner we achieve herd immunity the less the virus can mutate and evolve.