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SAN DIEGO — The University of California San Diego hopes to keep the spread of COVID-19 low this upcoming school year as over 40,000 students return to campus Thursday.

According to the UCSD COVID-19 daily dashboard, the transmission rate among students was below 1% during the 2021 summer session. UCSD has implemented “Return to Learn” program to prevent the spread, focusing on transmission-reduction strategies, monitoring viral activity and public health interventions.

Students and staff must wear a mask while indoors and it’s recommended for outdoors.

“Everyone must wear a mask all the time, preferably a high quality mask that filters 95% of the particles from the air,” said Dean Kit Pogliano, of Division of Biological Sciences.

There is a vaccine mandate in place for everyone on campus — only religious or medical exemptions can opt-out on the vaccine.

Unvaccinated students and staff must test twice a week and fully vaccinated students are required to test every week for the first four weeks of the fall quarter. The university is making everyone on campus track their symptoms daily.

“Every day, everyone who comes to campus has to log on and certify that they don’t have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 and haven’t been exposed to anyone who has been infected,” Pogliano said.

UCSD is also adding filtration boxes in lecture halls and study rooms.

“Air gets pulled through these filters and it gets trapped in the filter instead of in your lungs,” said Dr. Kimberly Prather, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at UCSD.

The school also is tracking the virus by the bathrooms students and staff use.

“We have wastewater testing to detect it in whole buildings, the virus in buildings,” Pogliano said.  

According to the university’s website, they are counting on everyone on campus to keep each other safe.

“We are counting on the members of our campus community to comply with these requirements to promote the health and welfare of all,” the statement read. “Non-compliance is subject to progressive engagement and discipline, in accordance with appropriate policies and processes for students, faculty, and staff.”