Priya Desai 4 min read 12th Grade, Coronavirus

How is UCLA Handling COVID-19?

The impact of COVID-19 didn’t really hit me until the day I was physically moving out of my dorm. As I packed up those last few belongings and had one last dinner with my friends, I realized that we were saying goodbye to a campus and lifestyle that we had taken for granted for the past three years. 

 

Since then, I have lived at home and in off-campus apartments, and have witnessed the changes in Southern California firsthand. Over the spring and summer, I attended copious classes, club events, and socials on Zoom. Now that fall quarter has rolled around, the university has made plans to start providing minimal housing and slowly letting students back on campus as needed. Read on to learn more about UCLA’s response and approach to COVID-19.

 

How are classes being conducted at UCLA?

 

About 92% of classes are currently entirely online, meaning most students’ schedules are completely on Zoom. Those that are in-person are mostly labs, studios, clinical courses, and senior capstone projects, so it’s more likely that upperclassmen have on-campus classes than freshmen. After Thanksgiving, all classes will go back to being completely online.

 

The workload for classes has been relatively the same, with the same number of readings, papers, and midterms as before. Although some lectures are still mandatory, professors have adapted to the new format by conducting lectures on Zoom and recording them so students can watch them at a convenient time. 

 

With so much time on their laptops, screen fatigue is a real issue, and students have come up with creative ways to cope with it. Some have been staying active – you can see people jogging around Westwood pretty much any time of day or doing yoga on their balconies. Others balance their academic screen time with reading books or painting. Some students have also bought themselves large monitors and blue-light glasses to accommodate them better during classes.

 

What is life on-campus like at UCLA?

 

Overview

 

Life at UCLA is still happening, but it’s different. Many sophomores, juniors and seniors have come back to Westwood because they had already found apartments in non-UCLA-affiliated buildings for the following school year and were unable to break their lease.

 

Students cannot access campus as freely as before. Although UCLA is technically a public space where virtually anyone can just walk on campus, the lecture halls and other buildings are closed with only a few exceptions. Before attending in-person classes, every student can get COVID tested at the Ashe Wellness Center. They must then continually get checked at least once every four weeks. If they don’t have UCSHIP, which is UCLA’s health insurance, it is up to them to seek out a COVID testing facility themselves. The closest ones are free and are a ten-minute drive from campus. Each time before a student enters a campus building for a class, the TA or supervisor letting them in goes through a COVID symptom checklist with them. Only one to three people are allowed inside of a lab at any one time, so these “new” classes are extremely different from UCLA’s pre-COVID setup.    

                             

Dorms

 

Currently, on-campus housing accessibility is very limited and based on students’ needs rather than preferences. The residence halls are only housing one student per bedroom, and university-affiliated apartments are housing two students per apartment. With these two housing options, UCLA has the capacity to accommodate about 6,500 students. Anyone living in these facilities will be required to participate in daily symptom checks.

 

UCLA also plans to set aside certain buildings for quarantine purposes, for students who test positive for COVID-19 or came into close contact with someone who did.

 

Housing offers are being made as spaces become available, with priority given based on need. This will make it very difficult for most students to get housing. 

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Dining

 

UCLA has converted its in-person dining facilities to carry-out with limited seating. In the dorms, residential staff members can deliver meals to each dorm. UCLA’s dining used to be one of its highlights, but the quality and variation of food options has definitely been impacted due to the new regulations. 

 

Social Life

 

For the most part, students have been respectful of UCLA’s COVID guidelines as they are strictly enforced on-campus. On-campus, students have been engaging in “safe” social activities like socially-distanced picnics on Janss steps. Most people do wear their masks and only interact with the people they are living with. 

 

All the Greek Life houses were initially closed, but are now back open for the school year. Only those living in the house and close friends that have been approved by the organization can enter. 

 

In the surrounding Westwood area, all stores and restaurants require customers to wear a mask. People can be seen wearing masks and grabbing boba with friends, or eating outdoors at Ami Sushi. In the greater LA area, the beach and hikes are still open and can be visited safely if people physically distance properly. Although life in Westwood has changed dramatically, there is still a lot going on in the area!

Is UCLA mindful of the financial implications of COVID-19?

 

UCLA has not been very forgiving in terms of financial accommodations for students. Students were able to terminate housing and receive a refund last spring, and for Fall they were able to cancel their housing without penalty before September 16th. However, there is no tuition discount for students, even those living at home. 

 

Many students were let go from their on-campus jobs, with only a few exceptions. Some were able to work with employers to determine additional work study options, establish a remote version of their current position, or gain eligibility for Paid Administrative Leave.

 

In terms of financial aid, many students saw a reduction in housing support because UCLA assigned financial aid under the assumption that students would be staying at home or commuting. For those who were still paying for housing, there was the option to fill out a housing adjustment form, which allowed students to receive additional accommodations from the school. 

 

Final Thoughts + Looking Forward

 

While life at UCLA is very different from how it used to be, the regulations in place are there to protect its students, faculty, and staff. At first, UCLA did a poor job of communicating what this school year would look like, but as the quarter rolled around, students were able to acclimate pretty easily. UCLA is taking COVID very seriously, and it may be awhile before in-person classes are back up to the hundreds. Until then, Bruins will continue to physically distance until it is safe to return to the way things once were.

 

Learn more about UCLA in these posts:

How I Got Into UCLA

What is UCLA Student Life Like?

 

You can also learn more about UCLA and see your chances of acceptance by signing up for your free CollegeVine account.

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Priya Desai
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Priya has been working at CollegeVine for two years in various capacities, including mentoring students, editing hundreds of essays, and creating blog content. She has also interned in healthcare consulting. She is extremely grateful for all the help she received as an applicant and wants to pay it forward by demystifying the admissions process for others.