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COVID-19 Update from Dean Flanagan

Dear Optometry Community

I am excited to share with you the news that we have received campus approval to move ahead with Summer Clinic. Our 3rd and 4th year students will be invited to rejoin our clinic faculty and staff in the resumption of our teaching clinics with on campus learning starting on June 8th. They will be the first cohort of students permitted back to campus since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

After having been reduced our clinical operations to urgent and emergent care, and telehealth consultations, since the original Shelter in Place order of March 10, our clinic has been ramping up operations over the last 2 weeks. These enhanced operations are in compliance with city orders, regional and state guidelines, and closely guided by the campus, University Health Services and City of Berkeley, Department of Public Health.

The students’ return to clinical learning has been painstakingly planned, in partnership with campus leadership, University Health Services, UC Health, Berkeley Public Health, and many units on campus including the Innovative Genomics Institute, EH&S, UCPD, Facilities and Custodial Services. The single most important principle we have followed is the protection of the health of our community. Never is this more important than for a health care profession like our own. We have also been guided by the principles of clinical education and healthcare for the greater community we serve.

We acknowledge that there will be some of you feeling apprehensive about returning to in person patient care. Indeed, there will be some of you whose health may not permit a return to clinical training at this time. Please be assured that we will work with you to find a path to graduation. This may take additional time, or perhaps a different level of protection while in clinic, but we will explore the opportunities with you.

We will return to clinic incrementally and thoughtfully, with careful safety protocols, appropriate PPE, and a low threshold for risk. Returning students will be tested prior to beginning their clinic rotations, symptoms and temperature will be screened daily and, as necessary, you will be quarantined and retested. We will continue to use telehealth where appropriate and direct symptomatic patients to urgent or emergent care providers. We have carefully planned for social distancing outside of the consulting room, and safety barriers where appropriate within the consulting room.

Later today the Class of 2021 and 2022 will start to receive information about their return.

This is a time like no other; there are unique opportunities for learning and for service. The profession will learn and advance, as will we all.

Very best wishes

Dean Flanagan

See previous message from the Dean from April 27