Credit: Megan Anderson | Mustang News

Student vaccination rates for fall quarter dropped 12% from last fall, largely due to changes in enrollment and vaccine reporting to the university.

As of Sept. 23, the student vaccination rate was at 81.6%, according to COVID-19 data Mustang News obtained from the university. Students are less vaccinated than employees were near this time last year. 

Primary series vaccinations are required for all students and employees, including a booster, as enforced by the CSU. Exemptions from vaccinations are permitted for religious or medical reasons. Booster-specific exemptions are also permitted if found that you will not be accessing any Cal Poly or CSU facility or attending any Cal Poly programs or events, according to the Cal Poly Coronavirus webpage.

Meanwhile, employees, including state, ASI and Cal Poly Corporation are 87.4% vaccinated.

University spokesperson Matt Lazier said that vaccination numbers change day by day, depending on enrollment and how vaccinations are reported to the university.

Graph comparing the vaccination rates of students and staff, with a yellow line representing students and a green line representing employees. On Oct. 4, 2021, 89.9% of employees and 93.9% students were vaccinated. On Jan. 18, 2022, 92.1% of employees were vaccinated and 94.5% of students were. April 2, 2022, 91.2% of employees were vaccinated and 94.8% students were. As of Sept. 23, 2022 87.4% of employees were vaccinated and 81.6% of students were. Brandon Kim | Mustang News

The on-campus saliva lab for those with no symptoms closed Sept. 23. Before its closure, the lab conducted 41 tests, 10 of which included employees from Sept. 18 to 23. No cases reported positive. For symptomatic testing with Campus Health and Wellbeing, 48 tests were conducted, four of which came back positive, one of those being off campus and the rest on campus.

For reports sent to the university, between Sept. 19 and 23, 12 employees tested positive, nine of those being faculty and three staff, according to university data obtained by Mustang News.

“To clarify, students may also test off campus through the county, their healthcare provider or by taking an at-home test, and the university might not be informed of positive tests that do not impact the campus,” Lazier wrote.

Some students and faculty criticize the Campus Screener’s accountability

Additional decreases in COVID-19 data were analyzed by Mustang News. This quarter’s first week saw 8,815 total responses to the daily self-screener during Week 1, according to campus COVID-19 data obtained by Mustang News. This is a 91% decrease, compared to last fall quarter’s 97,062 completed symptom screeners. 

The university is not collecting demographic data of who is filling out the screener. Lazier added that he doesn’t have a “hard number” of how many people are sent the screener.

“Anecdotally we can say continuing students are using the screener more consistently, while new students are still learning how it works,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News. 

The Campus Screener has previously faced criticism for the lack of accountability and enforcement, as many professors do not check these passes. President Jeffrey Armstrong told Mustang News in August that not all human behavior can be changed.

“It’s not a lack of education; it’s a lack of enforcement,” California Faculty Association SLO Chapter President Lisa Kawamura told Mustang News.

The 8,815 responses from the first week does not represent the number of students who completed the screener, as students or employees could have completed the screener more than once.

Graphic communication freshman Melody Braunstein said that not all her professors have required the screener, or just scan the room instead of individually checking everyone.

“I really don’t see any point in doing it, because you can easily lie,” Braunstein said.

Agricultural communication freshman Georgia Cerna, said she never received the campus pass and hadn’t heard of it before. Yet Cerna sees why people have completed the screener less, as the stage of COVID-19 is less severe compared to last year.

Biomedical engineering sophomore Erica Duffy said that she completed the screener during the first week and continues to wear a mask in class. Last fall, she recalls missing class because she had COVID-19 symptoms which ended up being a cold.

“The past screener would not allow you to go to your classes until you had all your paperwork, and I thought that was great,” Duffy said. “But I thought that every day asking the same questions, it was really easy to lie.”

This story comes from The Hill, a team of data analysts and reporters focused on data-driven and investigative stories at Mustang News. Click here to read more stories from The Hill.