Large campus events with unclear COVID-19 precautions and guidelines kicked off Cal Poly’s reopening for the 2021-22 school year – revealing a gray area around how the university is following public health recommendations.
On Sept. 18, Cal Poly Football sold out the Alex G. Spanos Stadium for their first home football game since the pandemic, amounting to 11,075 tickets.
Cal Poly’s public health recommendations include proof of vaccination or a pre-entry negative test result within three days of the scheduled event for “mega events” — an outdoor event that exceeds 10,000 attendees. However, the football game, in addition to volleyball matches, lacked measures for recording attendance or enforcing vaccinations, test results and PolyCard checks to confirm student status.
Although the game was outdoors, the number of unmasked fans in attendance also left some students questioning the implementation of these guidelines and policies, including electrical engineering junior Jason Milne.
“Everyone is supposed to be vaccinated, but there’s really no way to tell because they didn’t check before we entered the stadium,” Milne said.
In an email addressing the attendance of the game, Cal Poly Athletics Spokesperson Eric Burdick said the protocols put in place were “recommendations only by the state and county,” mentioning that “it could change in the future.”
The abundance of guidelines for masking, vaccine status, COVID-19 testing and events for the return to campus this fall have left Cal Poly students, faculty and staff feeling confused.
Everyone on campus must be wearing a mask inside all campus facilities, regardless of vaccination status. This coincides with San Luis Obispo County’s current indoor mask mandate, which requires face coverings in all indoor public places for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
In comparison to masking indoors, Cal Poly’s outdoor masking policy is not as cut and dried. Face coverings are not required in outdoor campus areas regardless of vaccination status, except for what both Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo County define as a mega event.
Another event that has already raised questions towards Cal Poly’s COVID-19 guidelines was the ASI-run KYLE concert in the University Union (UU) after the football game.
“The concert was bigger than I expected,” graphic communication junior Fady Tawfik said.
According to Tawfik, “there was no mention of COVID guidelines before or during the concert.”
The concert lasted for about two hours and students stood shoulder to shoulder in the UU plaza for the majority of the time.
“I didn’t feel completely safe in that environment,” Tawfik said. “No one wore masks, which I didn’t mind as most people were vaccinated and we were in an open space. However, realistically, anyone could have just showed up to the concert. No one checked IDs or screener passes so any stranger could walk in.”
The scenes at both the football game and KYLE concert have students wondering what will actually be enforced going forward.
Engineering senior Thomas Chiavacci said he feels that COVID-19 guidelines on campus have been inconsistent.
“I have had some professors take off their masks in class, I have had others tell me I can’t drink water in class — it’s all kind of confusing,” Chiavacci said.
In an email to Mustang News, University Spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote that the campus masking policy applies to all students and faculty, regardless of vaccination status.
“Those who see students not abiding by the policy can report the behavior to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities,” Lazier said.
According to Lazier, if a student is aware of an employee who is not in compliance with face-covering requirements, the student may ask the employee to comply with the campus policy or report the concern to the appropriate administrator. If it were a faculty member not following the policy, then this would mean reporting the matter to the appropriate department head or college dean.
For more information about COVID-19 guidelines, visit emergencyslo.com or coronavirus.calpoly.edu.