Dear Pacifica Students,
Greetings. We send you this message with a certain urgency, as we are entering the holiday season. Public health experts anticipate the increase in COVID-19 cases to continue, driven by the Omicron variant. The Omicron variant is expected to become the dominant variant throughout the country in the coming weeks, potentially peaking in the first few weeks of January.
Therefore, after careful examination and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to delay our campus reopening until February 2022 in anticipation of the emerging Omicron surge that already has had a serious impact on many parts of the country and world and has some Southern California counties reporting increases of as high as 118% in COVID cases in the education sector. While there is still much to be learned about this variant, its strikingly high transmission rate could create conditions on campus that would be detrimental to the health and safety of our community members and the educational experience. In addition, we are mindful of our responsibility to collective social needs beyond our campuses. Therefore, we must pause on our plans to reopen at the start of the new year. This means that all January class sessions will continue remotely.
We understand the significant impact this decision has on plans and brings up many questions that will need to be addressed. We share with you that this decision, made so close to the start of winter quarter, comes with complications and a sense of disappointment for many. However, the speed of Omicron’s transmission, together with the rise in break-through cases, have caught the world by surprise and requires us to modify our plans accordingly. The concerns of the present moment have become too serious to forge ahead with on-campus activities at the start of January, a decision being taken by a growing number of colleges and universities, even though they do not have the complexity of our scheduling and the extent of student/faculty travel that adds to health risks.
A tremendous amount of work by our faculty and staff has been done in recent months to prepare for our reopening in the areas of hiring, equipment and facilities installations, catering/housing, safety protocols, scheduling logistics, teaching preparations and more. Despite the reopening delay, the concurrent classroom and campus safety infrastructure developed still hold great value for our eventual reopening. We shall retain the resources we have put in place, including our increased staffing and technological capacities for the concurrent classroom. We shall use the additional time during this delay to continue refining this delivery method in preparation. In the meantime, we shall continue with remote delivery of all courses, and your program will be in touch with any additional details on January sessions.
Additionally, all accounts and proof of vaccination submitted to date will be kept in the OptimumHQ platform for when that time comes. For students who have booked travel arrangements to come on campus in January and may not have had insurance, please know that most airlines will have flexible COVID policies on refunds, rescheduling, and credits. If needed, Pacifica can provide documentation to support your request with travel companies. We recognize there are additional questions related to housing, financial aid, future travel plans, and other implications stemming from this decision. Communications and FAQs addressing these can be expected in the early part of the new year. We shall do all we can to provide clear and timely response to your concerns, but please understand that many of our offices have limited services available during the holidays.
As noted, we shall continue to monitor the situation closely and provide additional updates early in the new year, with the aim of announcing a decision about February sessions by mid-January. We invite you to use this time and our continued adaptations to lean into your studies together and depth psychological perspectives on change, indeterminacy, and living in the tension between opposites of the best made plans and emergent conditions.
As we process this decision and head into the holidays, let us also recognize today is the winter solstice, and we shall be moving towards the return of light, a time to reflect on this past year and look ahead to the next with extra grace and care for ourselves, each other, and our communities. May we support one another in these times of uncertainty in hopes of making our difficult situation a bit more bearable.
We hope that you have a safe and joyous holiday season.