Cal Poly is starting the winter quarter amid the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. The university is strongly encouraging students to wear KN95 or N95 masks but is only providing surgical masks to students on campus.
"They have masks?" said Cal Poly student, Madeline Davies.
But students say those promised surgical masks are hard to come by.
"Whenever you look in the boxes they're never there," said Davies.
"You can't find masks anywhere," said Cal Poly Student, Charlie Richard.
"It's kind of hard to find them on campus," said Cal Poly Student, Danielle Palacpac.
"There were boxes on all of the hand sanitizer stations, but most of the time they were empty," said Cal Poly Student, Lily Dickmeyer.
"It seems like they've kind of changed some stuff this quarter," said Cal Poly Student, Charlotte MacMillan.
Cal Poly President, Jeffrey Armstrong, sent an update to the campus community on Thursday:
"We are strongly encouraging the campus community to wear surgical or properly fitting N95/KN95 masks in indoor spaces....the university will continue to make surgical masks available to all campus community members; surgical masks can be found at the sanitation stations located in front of entrances to most campus facilities."
Cal Poly claims to provide students with surgical-grade masks but Cal Poly students tell us boxes that are supposed to contain masks are often empty.
We found an empty box of masks just inside the entrance to a building in the mathematics department, and just a few feet away inside a separate entrance was another empty surgical mask box.
If you're willing to look around there are some surgical masks on campus. We also discovered a box in the same building at the other end of the hall, and in the box originally containing 50 masks while only 4 remain.
Though Cal Poly is encouraging students to wear N95 and KN95 masks they are not providing them for students. The university does however provide N95 masks to faculty members who request them.
N95 masks aren't cheap, and the cost for a single-use mask can add up quickly with packs of 20 selling on amazon for more than $30, averaging a cost of $1.69 per mask.
"It obviously costs money and that's money out of your pocket. I don't have a job right now and you know, you've got to save your money as a college student," said Richard.
"Something that's recommended for your personal safety and the safety of others I feel like should be provided," said MacMillan.
Cal Poly's website shows the positivity rate of COVID-19 cases steadily climbing since January 2nd. According to it's website, 111 students are currently in isolation. In the last seven days there were 397 on-campus and 502 off-campus positive COVID-19 tests. Out of 132 off-campus isolation beds, 97 are occupied.
Regarding isolation beds, Cal Poly said in part:
"The university currently has 194 isolation beds. This includes 62 beds in on-campus University Housing as well as 132 beds in local hotels off-campus. As of right now, there are many beds that remain open and available," said Cal Poly Director of Media Relations, Matt Lazier.
For updated information about COVID-19 cases at Cal Poly visit the campus website.