Berkeley Public Health launches new COVID-19 Safe Campus Initiative to help the UC Berkeley campus reopen safely and responsibly

The initiative will test thousands of students, staff and faculty to determine the best methods to prevent and control the ongoing transmission of COVID-19. 

COVID-19 test kits at a testing site at UC Berkeley.

A team of researchers at UC Berkeley School of Public Health—in partnership with the Innovative Genomics Institute; the Division of Computing, Data Science and Society; and University Health Services—is launching a new initiative to offer universal testing to students, staff, and faculty as they return to the UC Berkeley campus and to develop rapid response protocols and effective infection control.  

Called the Berkeley COVID-19 Safe Campus Initiative, the program will establish a system to keep the UC Berkeley campus and surrounding communities safe to facilitate the potential reopening of the university this fall.   

This study will estimate the incidence of new infections of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19); discover who remains at risk of infection and why; develop strategies for how best to mitigate this risk; and allow campus to create effective systems to track potential infections. The team will work with local public health systems, including the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Division, to effectively prevent and control ongoing transmission as the economy reopens.  

Led by Dr. Arthur Reingold, Division Head of Epidemiology at UC Berkeley School of Public Health, and Dr. Maya Petersen, Division Head of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, the study will be based on a cohort of 1,000 students and up to 3,000 faculty and staff who will be tested between May and August of 2020. Data from the study will be complemented by environmental, local, and regional public health data and help lay the foundation for an integrated response across the 6 Bay Area Counties.

“We are currently learning as much as we can about this epidemic and how to control it. Safely reopening campus and society will require a gradual process, where we will continue to learn as we go,” says study leader Dr. Maya Petersen. “In close partnership with our local communities, this new initiative will help ensure that UC Berkeley is both collecting the data and building the systems we need to make that learning process as effective and efficient as possible.”

Initial funding for the study has been contributed by a small coalition of donors led by former Berkeley Board Foundation trustee Coleman Fung, including current trustees Charles Huang, Isabel Rhee, and Kai Huang. 

For more information on how Berkeley Public Health is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our resource hub at publichealth.berkeley.edu/covid-19.