San Luis Obispo urges students returning for classes to follow health orders

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Posted at 12:28 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 15:29:00-05

Cal Poly's winter quarter starts Monday and Cuesta College's spring semester begins Jan. 19 and with the start of those terms, the City of San Luis Obispo expects an influx of people returning to classes.

In a news release this morning city officials acknowledged things are different than in the fall, with COVID-19 more widespread and new rules are in place.

The city is working with leaders from Cal Poly, Cuesta College, and the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department, and wants to remind those returning they must follow all health and safety orders.

Cal Poly is working with the California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Office and the health department to comply with Governor Newsom's guidance for higher education.

The winter quarter on campus will be similar to the fall quarter; only 10.5% of classes will be in-person and the 4,500 students on campus will be in de-densified housing.

Cal Poly is also expanding COVID-19 testing to include a saliva screening program that will accommodate 4,000 people per day and requiring all students in San Luis Obispo County — whether they live on campus or not — to test at least twice per week.

Students who do not comply may lose access to campus and online resources but exemption requests are available.

Cal Poly has also made the following changes:

  • Staggered move-in with students not taking in-person classes arriving after the first week of the quarter
  • Finals week will be entirely virtual
  • Expanded on-campus isolation capacity to 236 beds
  • Developed wastewater testing aimed at early detection of COVID-19 in University Housing

“We have known for months that our students living in the community will return after a break regardless of our mode of instruction," Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said in the release. "Students living and taking classes on campus is an essential part of our plan to ensure that all students are following health and safety protocols."

Cuesta College's spring term will include entirely online lecture classes and student support programs, with exceptions for courses that include a laboratory component or require in-person meetings. Those courses will include strict safety protocols including daily health screenings, mask and face coverings, and physical distancing.

Sentinel testing for high-risk activities such as athletics and voice/wind instrument student ensembles will also be conducted.

Cuesta College anticipates completing testing protocol on campus in time for the new term.

“We long to fully return to campus and continue to implement protocols that support safe campus operations,” said Cuesta College Superintendent/President Dr. Jill Stearns in this morning's release. “I appreciate the collaborative efforts and support of the City and County of San Luis Obispo to ensure that Cuesta College is doing our part to promote the safety and well-being of not only our campuses but our local community as a whole.”

The Stay at Home Order in the Southern California Region, including San Luis Obispo, prohibits gatherings with people from different households.

“Things have gotten more serious since the last time students were on campus,” said San Luis Obispo City Manager Derek Johnson in Thursday's release. “School administrators, county health officials, and the City cannot do it alone. As members of our community, students also have a responsibility to protect not just themselves and their friends, but our local small businesses, those on the front lines and our most vulnerable residents.”