BERKELEY (CNN) — The University of California’s top doctor had a sobering message for the system’s leaders this week: School won’t go back to normal for at least another year.

Dr. Carrie Byington

Dr. Carrie Byington,
executive vice president, UC Health

Dr. Carrie Byington, the executive vice president and head of UC Health, delivered the message to the University of California’s Board of Regents during its two-day virtual teleconference this week. Speaking on Wednesday, Byington told the regents that in the U.S., herd immunity wouldn’t be expected until July 2022 — meaning that the safeguards will have to continue.

“I believe that we will still be undergoing these modifications, accommodations, for the virus for at least another year,” she said. “I am still planning on a year of disruption, with hope that between September (2021) and July (2022), we’ll continue to see lessening disruption.”

She continued, “But this is not something that will go away quickly. The pandemic of 1918, which is the one that we would compare this to most easily, was about four years before things began to really change and improve.”

Going into January 2021, Byington said she did not think schools will be able to return to normal and advised that administrators prepare now.

Byington’s message comes as colleges and universities across the country struggle with reopening campuses, even with many having chosen to stay virtual for the fall. Though most have not yet released plans for the spring semester, Byington’s remarks show that these precautions may have to continue, even as schools push to reopen and resume normal operations.

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