As some Cal Poly students and staff prepare for their return to campus, the university is preparing to take on COVID-19.
"Because of the hands-on learning nature of our university, we more so than most universities have to be disciplined and have to learn how to deal with this virus. We must balance the continued success of our students with mitigating risks due to the pandemic," President Jeffrey Armstrong said in a press conference on Aug. 26.
Much of their plan for avoiding an outbreak revolves around surveillance testing. They said they plan to screen and to test asymptomatic students for the disease on a frequent basis to prevent it from spreading.
"At the moment we're in the draft phase of creating some models as to how many students per day, over the period of one week and one month, we could test in order to get our arms around any outbreaks or spread of the virus," Epidemiologist Dr. Adyn Nazmi said.
Those who do test positive will be housed in on-campus isolation units that follow CDC guidelines.
117 apartment rooms are set aside on-campus with private bathrooms, food deliveries, academic support, and counseling available, so the students can continue their academic work while in isolation.
All of this can only work if students are doing their part by avoiding gatherings, washing their hands and wearing face coverings.
The university said it is now taking a stronger approach to disciplining students found having gatherings.
"I want to be clear on one point especially: students or organizations that engage in behaviors that compromise the health and safety of the Cal Poly or larger community will be sanctioned, including potential suspension or expulsion from the university. Each student that chooses to come to San Luis Obispo this Fall is committing to uphold these guidelines without exception," Armstrong said.
The city of San Luis Obispo is currently under a safety enhancement zone that includes everywhere within city limits.
Under these guidelines, fines are doubled for things like noise complaints and gatherings.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department said the school checks its public logs daily and officers try to educate those they come in contact with.
"If they go to a noise complaint or unruly gathering party complaint, there's an investigation and there are criteria that have to be met before a citation is issued. So there's not extra patrol necessarily, it's really based on where the impacts are and where that information is provided to us," Neighborhood Outreach Manager for SLOPD Christine Wallace said.
We asked Dr. Nazmi if they plan on changing how they test people from the nasal swab.
Nazmi said they are looking into a number methods including some that just need saliva in order to get the most compliance from students.
The school is requiring all students living on campus to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival.
The university said Wednesday they will work with students who are unable to receive a test or results within that time frame.