UC remote learning extensions have raised many concerns, primarily those of students that are navigating an uncertain and precarious winter quarter. Students not only face financial vulnerabilities, but their proximity to COVID-19, due to inadequate COVID regulations, places them at risk.
UCR, UC Los Angeles and UC Irvine announced they will be extending remote learning by three more weeks amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the state. In-person classes are scheduled to resume on Jan. 31, in response to the news that the omicron variant is likely to spread more easily than the original COVID-19 strain. On Dec. 1, 2021 the CDC confirmed 133,344 positive cases and reported on Jan. 4, 2022 that there were 717,765 new confirmed positive cases in the United States.
UCR Environmental Health and Safety reports that in the student population there have been 235 positive cases: 0.36% of tests performed are positive. This data is cumulative from March 1, 2020 to the present. Students complain that the UCR COVID dashboard fails to give timely updates of current positive cases, making it difficult for them to see the amount of cases on campus and in their own residence halls.
There has been no movement to extend the emergency relief funds, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, for winter 2022 amid COVID-19 setbacks.
UCR Students are advocating on social media for financial relief for their housing rent and dining hall fees. Many students that do not live near Riverside have sought out last-minute housing due to the 95% in-person announcement and are now confronted with uncertain instructions for the winter program. Students feel that COVID conditions make it difficult for them to maintain regular work schedules and income that would otherwise pay housing and dining hall fees, which range from $400 to $2,250 a month. The petition organized by ASUCR has accumulated around 3,018 signatures in support of financial relief.
In an email sent to students Thursday, UCR Housing services announced, “We are not offering rent credit at this time. University housing remains open for all residents.” They also announced that they will be allowing students with a meal plan to switch to a lower tier or have their unused swipes carry over to next quarter. If you would like to make a change to your dining plan, email email@example.com. Students have until Jan. 21 at 5 p.m.
ASUCR has emphasized financial relief for on-campus housing and meal plans for the month of January in addition to reduced costs of room and board for the months of February and March at the least in order to compensate for the extended remote instruction.
UCLA and UC San Diego are already set to financially accommodate their students. UCLA Student Housing has offered to have housing bills probated to the date students check into their housing and offered students refunds when checking out to leave. UCSD will not be charging students for the unused portion of their housing and dining contracts.
Students can find the petition at change.org.