President Jane Close Conoley announced Saturday that all on-campus residents at Long Beach State have been placed in quarantine for two weeks following five newly diagnosed cases of the coronavirus.
Four of the students infected live in the residence halls and one off campus.
This new development brings the total number of COVID-19 cases related to the campus to 90, according to the New York Times.
“Late yesterday, we became aware of a number of students who have not headed our guidance related to COVID-19 precautions and congregated socially off campus earlier this month,” Conoley said in a campus-wide email.
In accordance with the Long Beach Department of Public Health and Human Services, CSULB will be testing all 328 on-campus residents soon, she said.
As a response, the school will begin contact tracing for those who may have come in contact with the infected individuals. All in-person courses will be paused for two weeks until it is determined who the infected students interacted with, according to Conoley, and CSULB will review the number of employees on campus to determine when it’s safe to return.
“Given medical privacy regulations I don’t feel okay about further identifying our affected students. Right now we don’t think any of the positive students are taking in person classes, but we have to find out who was exposed to the virus,” Conoley said. “Failure to follow precautions is a selfish act.”
According to Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, all housing students will remain in their assigned rooms in Parkside College “for the time being while testing is being pursued.”
Housing and Residential Life will work with the 49er Shops’ staff to participate in no-contact meal delivery to students’ rooms, Cook said.
One on-campus resident, who was not comfortable giving their name, said they didn’t even know about the announcement.
“I’m supposed to move out Monday so I don’t know how that’ll affect me,” the student said.
Josh Licata, first-year microbiology major and housing student, said he had not received any information from Housing and Residential Life and found out about this development along with the rest of campus from Conoley’s email.
“I’m not surprised. A part of me just doesn’t want to believe it, but I mean I knew it was gonna happen,” Licata said. “I’m sad to hear it. It’s just something that I didn’t really want to happen.”
Cook, however, said that Housing and Residential Life sent out a follow-up email to student residents after Conoley’s initial announcement.
Dean Stavros, first-year film major and housing student, said he received the email Cook referred to in which Housing and Residential Life emphasized the importance of maintaining health and safety standards. Stavros said the email warned that non-compliance may result in removal from the dormitory buildings.
A representative from Housing and Residential Life called Stavros and told him he needed to be tested for the virus. For the time being, he and all other residential students are expected to shelter-in-place in their dormitories for a full two weeks.
“It’s probably going to suck but I’d much rather take this route than letting it get worse and shutting down entirely after a few more weeks,” Stavros said.
According to James Ahumada, Associated Students, Inc. senior communications manager, access to on-campus resources in the University Student Union will be paused for the foreseeable future.
In accordance with Conoley’s announcement, the ASI-affiliated services that will be closed until further notice include the USU’s Open Lab computer center, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in the USU and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center’s equipment checkout program, Ahumada said. The Beach Pantry pop-up drive-thru event on Oct. 2 will also be canceled.
“The health and safety of the Beach community continues to be our top priority,” Ahumada said. “We will continue to make these closure decisions in consultation with university, city and regional health professionals.”
As of now, campus is open to all essential employees and 97.5% of instruction will continue as planned, Conoley said. Cleaning and disinfection of the facilities will be increased and student conduct will be addressed to prevent further outbreaks, she said.
“Those who have the need to be tested will have a test offered,” Conoley said.
Conoley said the university’s plan moving forward includes a Los Angeles County “mobile testing unit” coming on campus Monday to test students. These five cases, she said, are the first instance of possible exposure to “campus contacts” which is why administration is “moving quickly to investigate and pause in-person instruction.”
Cook said that all residential staff, including resident assistants, custodians and facility workers, will be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
“I worry about some of our research programs and graduate student research projects that might be affected,” Conoley said. “The faculty teaching in person classes will be greatly inconvenienced by the reckless behavior of a few students.”
Julia Terbeche, news editor, contributed to this article.
This article will continue to be updated as new information is gathered.