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Cal Poly cracks down on COVID-19 enforcement during first week of classes

Posted at 11:29 PM, Sep 18, 2020

After the first week of classes, Cal Poly administrators said they have already had issues with large gatherings, which could be a big price to pay for those who don't follow guidelines meant to keep students safe.

This fall, meeting up with friends isn't what it once was.

“You can obviously meet people more easily when you’re not having to stay six feet away from them," Cal Poly freshman Joey Catania said.

Rules at Cal Poly are strict this fall. The university is enforcing all campus, county and state health and safety guidelines, including properly wearing face coverings, practicing physical distancing, and not participating in large gatherings.

“There’s social pressure to meet up with people you haven’t seen in a long time and there’s social pressure to follow the rules," Sophia Robeldo, a Cal Poly sophomore, said.

It's what happens off-campus where concerns for COVID-19 could spike.

"We're always concerned that when students travel off campus or on campus that they risk picking up a communicable disease," Cal Poly Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.

The university reportedsix new positive tests of the virus in off-campus student residents over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Cal Poly to 85.

"Being here is such a privilege and it can be taken away really fast," Robledo said. “For me it's not choosing whether or not to follow the rules or whether to wear a mask, it's choosing how long I get to stay here.”

Some students know the risk as Cal Poly is one of the few schools to offer partial, in-person courses.

After one week of classes, enforcement has already been rolled out at the university.

"We have taken the step of already suspending one student and we have a second student in the process of suspension at the university," Humphrey said.

A suspension is only for an extreme case, Humphrey said, such as hosting a large gathering that is in violation of the public health orders.

With both Cal Poly and Cuesta College both back in session, the San Luis Obispo Police Department is also on heightened alert and reports an uptick in noise calls.

Before Cal Poly students moved in they reported 38 noise complaints for the week, issuing 13 citations. Noise complaints jumped to 56, but citations remained at 11 with students back in session.

"There's a safety risk in large gatherings," SLOPD Lieutenant Robert Cudworth.

Some students on campus feel it's been difficult to find social outlets.

“I was looking into joining so clubs and I definitely want to at least rush a fraternity, but I’m not sure if I still want to do that or wait until later on once we actually can do it in person," Catania said.

Greek life recruitment is right around the corner, but student organizations will not be allowed to hold any in-person gatherings.

Humphrey said students are finding ways to connect. More than 10 thousand people participated in Cal Poly's first virtual club fair a few weeks ago.

Community members who see students violating the health and safety guidelines can reportthe matter to Cal Poly's Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.