San Luis Obispo County has been on the state monitoring list since July 17, but President Armstrong said he is “cautiously optimistic” that Cal Poly will be allowed to offer some in-person classes in the fall, according to a campus-wide email sent Friday afternoon.

Counties on the state monitoring list for three consecutive days are not allowed to hold in-person lectures, but they can offer in-person labs and studio classes if participants stay six feet apart from each other, according to state guidelines released Friday, August 7. 

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom and state public health officials released their guide for institutions of higher education, the university still requires final approval from the CSU Chancellor’s Office on proposed fall plans.

The Chancellor will notify campus how many students can live on campus, which will impact the amount of housing the university can offer in the fall, Armstrong wrote. 

Cal Poly faculty and staff, Cal Poly Corporation employees and Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) staff are required to complete an online training on COVID-19 safety and prevention. This training is mandated for individuals working remotely and on campus, according to the campus-wide email.

Incoming freshmen and transfer students will receive COVID-19 safety information during SLO Days and Week of Welcome orientation, the email read. 

Required plans

State guidelines require that the university create a campus COVID-19 prevention plan, conduct risk assessments for all work areas, and have a plan for closing classes and facilities if public health conditions worsen. 

The university must also have a system in place for students, faculty and staff to report if they have COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. This includes having back-up staff to fill in if staff members get sick and ways to deliver food and health care to students living on campus who are sick.

When a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and has exposed others, the university must conduct initial assessments then consult with local public health officials to determine next steps. This includes the potential of total or partial closure of the university.

Close contacts of the infected staff member or student must follow isolation procedures, and areas used by the sick person must be closed off for 24 hours before it is disinfected to protect sanitation workers.

Disinfection practices

Campuses must encourage frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use as well as recommend students and staff get a flu vaccine, according to state guidelines. 

Campuses must also create a schedule for disinfecting frequently used surfaces and spaces, and ensure that fresh air is circulating in all rooms by either opening windows on opposite sides of the room or using mechanical ventilators when people are in the room. The guide recommends the use of portable air cleaners with HEPA filters when possible. 

The campus should install barriers like sneeze guards in places where it is difficult to stay six feet apart, and use signs and tape on the floor to remind people to stand six feet apart. 

Campuses should designate entry and exit routes as well. 


Desks must be placed six feet apart from each other at all times, state guidelines said.

State guidelines recommend that teachers offer synchronous online classes with their in-person classes to reduce the amount of students in class. 

Campus Dining

Campuses, like Cal Poly, that are located in a county on the monitoring list, must follow state guidelines for outdoor dining and takeout options. 

Campus dining should offer grab-and-go options for students to pick up their meals.

If the campus is not on the state monitoring list, they are allowed to open dining halls, but should serve individual meals instead of serving food buffet style, the state guide read.

Dining halls should be disinfected frequently, the guide read. 


Campuses should offer single rooms whenever possible. If needed, they can offer rooms with two beds, if the beds are six feet apart and students sleep in opposite directions, the guide read. 

Bathrooms and common rooms must be disinfected throughout the day, and students must wear a mask in common areas.

There should be no social activities in the dorms unless allowed by local public health officials, and seating in common areas must be reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. 

Non-residents may not enter the dorms. 


The campus must limit non-essential visitors, volunteers and group meetings. 

In addition, each campus must close nonessential shared spaces, and set up individual study spaces six feet apart. Study spaces can only be filled to 25 percent capacity or to 100 people, depending on which is less, the guide read. 

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