The university will enforce stricter COVID-19 restrictions, which includes increased testing of students, according to a campus-wide email sent by President Jeffrey Armstrong on Thursday.
Both on and off-campus students living in San Luis Obispo County will be required to test for the virus at least twice a week, regardless of whether their classes are in-person or virtual.
The punishment for not complying with testing requirements will be a written warning, followed by a loss of the university’s technology services until a student fulfills testing requirements, according to the email.
Those university resources include more than 200 applications and 200 online sites such as Canvas, Zoom, Virtual Labs, StudentPay and the Cal Poly Portal, according to a COVID-19 Presidential Order that will take effect at the start of winter quarter on Jan. 4.
This protocol adds onto the university’s current student conduct process for any public health violations on or off campus.
“Given that cases increased dramatically in November … any student who fails to test at the prescribed frequency is a potential detriment to the public health of our campus, city and county,” Armstrong wrote in the email.
Students living, studying or working on campus will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within three days of arriving on campus for winter quarter, and anyone unable to present their test results will be tested immediately on campus.
More than 4,000 students will be housed in single-occupancy rooms with the same mask and physical distancing guidelines as fall quarter, according to the email.
About 50 more beds will be added to the on-campus isolation capacity for winter quarter, amounting to 236 isolation beds in total. This modification comes after University Housing reached its isolation capacity during fall quarter when COVID-19 cases on one residence hall floor increased, forcing some students to isolate in local hotel rooms instead.
Armstrong said in the email that he does not “foresee the need to utilize off-campus hotel accommodations during the winter or spring quarter,” but the university will be able to use off-campus isolation spaces if needed.
Move-in dates for the first week of winter quarter will be staggered, Student Affairs Vice President Keith B. Humphrey wrote in a Dec. 3 email.
About 10% of classes – meaning 428 of 4,105 class sections – will be held in-person during winter. These classes “cannot be delivered virtually and are required for graduation are being offered face-to-face,” according to the email. Armstrong said that during fall, COVID-19 cases were not traceable to in-person classroom exposure due to “rigorous” sanitation and protocols.
All winter quarter finals will be held virtually.
The California State University Chancellor’s Office, San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health and San Luis Obispo County Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein all endorsed Cal Poly’s winter quarter plan, according to the email. Although Borenstein said that many residents “might be uneasy about the decision to bring back college students at this time,” the email read.
“As San Luis Obispo County grapples with the same increasing numbers of infections happening nationwide, it is crucial that our student residents – like all members of our community – do their part as we continue to combat the spread of this virus,” Borenstein wrote in the email.