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UC Berkeley Extends Student Pandemic Lockdown

Melinda Young Stuart
Flickr / Creative Commons
A learned bench at the Doe Library on campus

A surge of COVID-19 cases at the University of California, Berkeley has prompted school officials to extend a lockdown on about 2,000 students living in residence halls.

More than 400 people, mostly undergraduate students at the school, have tested positive for the virus since an outbreak started in mid-January, according to the university’s website. A spokesperson says small off-campus gatherings contributed to the outbreak.

All students living in dorm-style residence halls were ordered to “self-sequester” for a week, beginning on February 1st. This week, school officials extended the lockdown through at least Feb. 15.

That affects about 2,000 students. They’re required to stay in their rooms at all times with the exception of seeking medical care, using the bathroom or picking up food from dining kiosks, according to an email sent to students. Students may also leave their rooms for required COVID-19 tests twice weekly. But they’re not allowed to exercise outside. 

The ban on outdoor activities goes beyond strict guidelines issued by the state. Governor Gavin Newsom has encouraged outdoor exercise, even during strict lockdown periods.

To help enforce the lockdown, UC Berkeley has increased the number of staff and security guards in and around residence halls, the email said, warning that students who violate the rules can be kicked out of campus housing or suspended.

Ben joined KALW in 2004. As Executive News Editor and then News Director, he helped the news department win numerous regional and national awards for long- and short-form journalism. He also helped teach hundreds of audio producers, many of whom work with him at KALW, today.