All students, regardless of vaccination status, must present a negative COVID-19 test before students’ first day on campus, according to a campus-wide email containing updated COVID-19 requirements for fall quarter.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong outlined testing, vaccination and masking rules in the email, which comes about two weeks after the university first announced a vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff.

“Making these changes allows us to minimize risk and carefully resume those things that are fundamental to our lives — including providing students with a Learn by Doing, Cal Poly education,” Armstrong said.

COVID-19 testing

Vaccinated and unvaccinated students must present a negative test result prior to their first day on campus. This means students must test negative for COVID-19 up to 72 hours before they move in on campus or before their first day on campus. A photo of the lab report must be uploaded to the Cal Poly Portal.

Cal Poly will also provide campus testing upon arrival to students unable to test beforehand. Students taking only virtual classes and not accessing campus for any reason during fall quarter are exempt from this requirement.

Throughout the quarter, however, only unvaccinated students will be required to test regularly.

Unvaccinated students approved for a medical or religious exemption are required to test twice a week. Armstrong said this will continue until a decline in COVID-19 infections and a greater vaccination rate allows for less frequent testing.

“Unless dictated by changes in public health, vaccinated students will not be asked to test unless exposed or showing symptoms,” Armstrong said in the email.

Free campus testing will open early September for unvaccinated or asymptomatic students, faculty and staff. Symptomatic students can test for free through Campus Health and Wellbeing.

About 90% of students report being vaccinated

Cal Poly requires residential students to be vaccinated by Sept. 14. All other people accessing campus are required to be vaccinated by Sept. 20, when fall classes begin.

According to the email, 85% of students enrolled for fall quarter are fully vaccinated. About 5% reported being partially vaccinated or planning to get vaccinated. Armstrong said he’s confident employees will “match or exceed” the students’ vaccination rate, but he did not say where their vaccination rate currently stands.

“Our student population having a higher vaccination rate than the community in general likely makes campus a safer place,” Armstrong said in the email.

In-person classes resume for fall quarter

The university also mandates masking indoors “except when doing so would be unsafe or impractical.” Vaccinated faculty may opt for a face shield with a drape while teaching instead.

Armstrong said that due to masking and safety protocols, reported COVID-19 cases did not trace back to in-person classes last year.

Noncompliance with COVID-19 policies may result in a student losing access to their Cal Poly Portal and other online resources — a continuation of last year’s policy. In the classroom, faculty may enforce the mask mandate and to dismiss and report non-compliant students.

Armstrong addressed the “concern and anxiety” caused by the Delta variant, infections among vaccinated people and a “lower-than-hoped-for” vaccination rate in the US. Yet he remained committed to resume on-campus operations in the fall.

“While we recognize these factors, we also know it’s unrealistic for our country to halt “normal” life indefinitely,” Armstrong said in the email. “Those things fundamental to a functioning society — such as education — must continue for the good of us all.”

Student Affairs and University Human Resources can answer questions from students and staff, respectively, regarding COVID-19 policies.

The fully FDA approved Pfizer vaccine is available free to students through Campus Health and Wellbeing and local vaccine clinics.

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