More than 2,000 students were ineligible to attend in-person classes or activities on the first day of fall quarter due to noncompliance with COVID-19 testing requirements.
They were issued a blue campus pass, which advises students to submit a negative COVID-19 test result as soon as possible in order to attend class.
Another 197 students indicated they either experienced COVID-19 symptoms on the first day of classes or were exposed to someone who did on Cal Poly’s symptom screener, which is emailed or texted to students daily.
University Spokesperson Matt Lazier did not answer questions about whether students with ineligible campus passes are still attending in-person classes. Lazier said the university does not record campuswide attendance.
Instead, the university depends entirely on faculty and staff to verify that those attending in-person classes or activities have a “green pass,” which shows a student self-reported no COVID-19 symptoms and is compliant with testing requirements.
“I’m not going to conjecture about what might or might not be possible,” Lazier wrote through email. “I’ll stick with what I’ve told you already: The requirement is in place. Faculty are strongly encouraged to check passes at the door at the start of classes.”
Lazier noted that the 2,064 students with blue campus passes made up about 11% of all students who filled out the daily COVID-19 symptom screener. Then, out of the students who reported symptoms, 34 indicated they were COVID-19 positive or likely exposed, Lazier said. The other 163 students reported general symptoms of illness.
“Overall, these numbers are very positive, particularly when paired with the university’s student vaccination rate, which is above 90 percent,” Lazier said.
The number of students with ineligible campus passes declined from Monday onward. By Thursday, less than 400 students had blue, red or yellow campus passes.
Some students said they were confused about the university’s testing requirements and COVID-19 protocol.
Graphic communication junior Alen Nolasco knew about uploading his vaccination card to the Cal Poly portal but not about testing within 72 hours of his first class.
Nolasco ended up getting tested on the first day of the quarter but noticed that none of his professors verified his campus pass at the beginning of classes that day.
“Since I am a transfer student, I did not know much about the COVID protocols,” Nolasco said. “Everything felt very new and it was kind of difficult to adapt to this new environment.”
Business administration senior Timmy McLoughlin said he thought the campus screener was pointless considering none of his professors have checked for daily green passes.
McLoughlin added that it’s easy to accidentally select a wrong answer on the screener and potentially be barred from attending in-person classes, which he said happened to him last week.
Despite many professors not checking campus passes, Cal Poly music professor Scott Glysson checks campus passes daily.
“In a choral environment where people are singing, it is important to do all we can to keep our area as safe as possible,” Glysson said.
Obtaining a campus pass depends on students being honest in reporting symptoms on the daily symptom screener. Glysson said he thinks most students will be honest.
“If nothing else, it gives those students a way to show their professor proof of the need to miss class,” Glysson said.
Audrey Ryan contributed reporting to this article.