California State University, Chico canceled its limited number of in-person classes, Monday, and told students to vacate campus housing by the weekend. That’s after nearly 30 people tested positive for the coronavirus just days after the fall semester started.
University officials say staff will help students secure alternate housing off-campus and students with no other housing options will be accommodated. The university will provide prorated refunds for room and meal charges.
The fall semester started last week with about 10% of the university’s 4,200 classes taking place in person. The in-person sections were deemed essential for degree progress and included labs, art, engineering, and agriculture courses. Now they’ll all be online-only.
The outbreak at Chico State is one of many at colleges around the country. Many campus outbreaks have been linked to parties and socializing at bars and fraternity and sorority houses.
In the past week, outbreaks were reported at the University of Iowa and Illinois State University which both have had more than 500 positive test results since their fall semesters started in August. The University of Alabama has had more than 1,200.
Like many campuses, Chico State was taking a variety of precautions to enable at least some students to live on campus. It limited university housing to single-room accommodations for about 750 students — roughly one-third of the typical occupancy, according to its website. University officials did not immediately respond to questions seeking more clarity on the outbreak and the order for students to move off campus within a week.
The California State University system of 23 campuses is the nation’s largest four-year public university system, with 480,000 students. All its campuses are doing the vast majority of classes online
At San Diego State University, which is part of the CSU system, more than 40 students and staff have tested positive since March, about half of them in the last two weeks. The university has now hired a private security firm to patrol on- and off-campus to look for students violating its COVID-19 policies. It says consequences can range from warnings to expulsion.