Cal Poly is using Cerro Vista’s Romauldo building to isolate COVID-positive students and residents in quarantine who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
The university has not communicated its use of Romauldo to the 649 residents living in the other five Cerro Vista buildings.
University Housing officials have also instructed residential advisors — who are aware of the isolation and quarantine arrangements — to keep that information confidential from student residents.
Isolation is the highest tier of precautionary measures taken by the university after a coronavirus case is recorded on campus. Although quarantine is a tier below isolation, both precautionary measures are identical in that they do not allow residents to leave their rooms.
After a fifth student tested positive for the coronavirus on Muir Hall’s third floor earlier this week, University Housing officials relocated all of the floor’s residents — more than 30 students — to Cerro Vista’s Romauldo building on Tuesday, Oct. 27 to quarantine for two weeks.
University Spokesperson Matt Lazier did not confirm whether Cerro Vista’s Romauldo building is being used to isolate and quarantine students due to “privacy concerns.” He wrote in an email to Mustang News that “… we have, in consultation with County Public Health, moved 31 residents to separate quarantine quarters, where Public Health is ordering them to quarantine for 14 days, in effort to mitigate further potential spread of the virus.”
Mustang News spoke with residents as well as RAs in the Cerro Vista Apartments. RAs asked that their names not be used since speaking with the media violates their contracts and they said they feared retaliation from the university.
The Cerro Vista residential community comprises six buildings including Romauldo. Directly connected to Romauldo by a hallway is the Hollister building, which houses 133 student residents.
The building’s proximity to unaware residents who have never been exposed to the virus is a top concern, RAs said, because there is nothing that prevents anyone from entering Cerro Vista’s Romauldo building.
RAs also explained how COVID-positive student residents break isolation guidelines often by leaving their room. Some of the COVID-positive student residents lock themselves out of their own apartments, and RAs must unlock their apartment door to let them in — a procedure known as a lockout.
“There’s not one part of this procedure that doesn’t concern me,” one RA said. “Right when I knew that this was how isolation was going to work, I had bad feelings about it, because obviously there’s no one outside their rooms monitoring them.”
RAs also told Mustang News that student residents living in Cerro Vista should be made aware of how the university is using Romauldo.
When Aubrey Sturgeon, a first year animal science major, finds herself on the north side of Cerro Vista, she said she has passed through Romauldo to get to her room in Hollister a few times this quarter.
Sturgeon said it is concerning that the university has not communicated about Romauldo with her or her fellow Cerro Vista residents, especially since the building is so close to her.
“Just like not having that communication about Romauldo — it puts into question like what else the school’s withholding,” Sturgeon said. “Like how many positive cases are there actually on campus? Like what are you withholding?”
Going forward, Sturgeon is going to avoid Romauldo because she knows there is a high likelihood that residents are breaking isolation and quarantine guidelines, she said.
Eva Flynn, who also lives in Cerro Vista’s Hollister building, said that she does not go to Romauldo at all but remembers ending up in the building when she got lost during the first week of the quarter looking for her room.
“There’s no real distinction between the buildings in Cerro Vista except for like a tiny little plaque on the wall but all the hallways look exactly the same,” Flynn said. “So you can easily just like walk into Romauldo by accident.”
Flynn said that because she takes social distancing and other COVID-safety guidelines seriously, she does not feel unsafe living one hallway from Romauldo. However, she said that she would have liked to know that Romauldo is currently housing COVID-positive residents.
“I do have a right to know, but I don’t really expect them to tell me because they haven’t been very open about the whole process,” Flynn said. “So I wasn’t surprised they hadn’t told us. But it still is frustrating.”
Brayden Martinez, who is one of the more than 30 residents from Muir Hall who had to move into Romauldo to begin quarantine on Tuesday, also said it is wrong for the university to keep Cerro Vista residents out of the loop.
“They’re basically endangering a whole other level of the campus population,” Martinez said. “The people of Cerro Vista are just going to keep going by with their daily lives, not knowing that there are a bunch of people who are in isolation and living right next to them. If I were them, I’d be a little concerned.”
Martinez added that the lack of communication and the time it takes for the university to inform students has been frustrating for him.
“It takes Cal Poly a very long time to actually tell us what is going on — usually about a day,” Martinez said. “That really just destroys people’s mental health.”