UC San Diego reports big surge in coronavirus infections among students back from holidays

Overview of the UC San Diego campus.
UCSD says 245 students have reported a positive test for the coronavirus since Jan. 4.
(San Diego Union-Tribune)

UC San Diego said that 245 of its students have tested positive for the coronavirus since the winter quarter began Jan. 4 — the kind of surge the university avoided last fall through a major testing and education campaign called “Return to Learn.”

University data show that 109 of those students live at UCSD, which has one of the most comprehensive testing programs for the virus in academia. The other 136 students are living off campus in the San Diego area. UCSD also said that 61 of its employees have tested positive for the virus.

Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced some changes to his plan to reopen schools, which includes a small decrease in the case rate that would allow for campuses to open.

Jan. 15, 2021

Eighty-five percent “of the on-campus students who are infected went home for the holiday and are testing positive during the incubation period following their return,” said Dr. Robert T. “Chip” Schooley, a professor of medicine who is helping run Return to Learn.

“Our interpretation is that they acquired the virus in the community during the break. Going home during a raging pandemic is a dangerous thing. The on-campus case rate is now declining to pre-break levels as we work through the infections that came back from the winter break.”


About 7,300 students are currently living on campus, a figure that the university hopes to significantly increase by early February.

Fewer than 40 students tested positive for the virus last fall when students moved into campus dorms.

Robbins writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.