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San Diego State welcoming students to campus, COVID-19 style

Move-in day for SDSU takes place Aug 18-21. International students have already arrived and are under quarantine. The SDSU community has documented 24 cases so far.
Credit: KFMB
San Diego State University is just one of 23 campuses facing the curriculum change.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University is expecting 3,500 students to arrive for on-campus housing next week, with some international students already at the public university under quarantine.

Normally, move-in day at SDSU is a huge event full of music, orientations, club booths and an entire wave of students.

This year it will look different. With staggered move-in times and limited volunteers to help students, SDSU is adding COVID-19 precautions to its list of move-in essentials.

In-person classes will also be highly limited with the exception of a few small-sized labs.

International students already moved to the campus between Aug. 6 and 8, and will be under quarantine for 14 days. These students were already required to go under a previous 14-day quarantine prior to their move-in date.

U.S. students are set to arrive between Aug. 18 and 21.

SDSU said on its 2020 Move-In website that it is expecting to house 3,500 students out of their seven-thousand-bed capacity.

SDSU is expecting a reduction in density as it is dropping the live-on requirement for first and second-year students for the remainder of the school year.

As the school expects on-campus living arrangements to decrease compared to previous years, students are still making arrangements to live near campus in the College Area.

Karina Ulloa, a community college transfer from Palomar College, is one of those students looking to live near campus, even if she isn't attending in-person classes.

"I'm hoping to have some kind of college experience now that we won't be meeting in person," Ulloa said.

According to the SDSU 2020 move-in day website, numerous measures will be taken to ensure social distancing and COVID precautions, per Center for Disease Control guidelines.

Even though students are not required to be tested for COVID-19 before moving on campus, there will be multiple testing facilities through the county and Student Health Services established.

"As testing expands, we fully expect that there will be one or more testing sites within walking distance for our students from the start of the fall semester," the statement read in part.

For example, six unnamed residence halls that use shared bathrooms with small living quarters will not be used. SDSU said it defers to letting its students use the apartment and suite options to maximize distancing.

The list of precautions taken by SDSU is extensive, and the school said every student looking to live on campus received a pamphlet outlining the measures.

Some of the measures taken are listed here:

  • Protective screens placed in front desks of residence halls. 
  • Signs to encourage preventative methods like hand-washing and social distancing.
  • Limited capacity in common areas. 
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers at entryways and exits. 
  • Stations to disinfect communal areas multiple times a day.
  • Updated the Health & Safety Inspection and Service Request protocol to ensure physical distancing and proper sanitation. 
  • The university said it will implement ventilation improvements based on each building's design.  

"These strategies are effective for reducing the risk of dissemination of infectious aerosols in building environments and align with professional guidance and standards," the statement reads.

You can view the entire list of precautions SDSU said it is implementing here.

Though SDSU is implementing these measures onto on-campus living, it said students living off-campus in places such as fraternity houses are not required to disclose or report coronavirus cases or symptoms.

A statement attributed to San Diego State, delivered by email, states in part:

"Fraternity and sorority chapter houses at San Diego State University are privately owned or leased and managed by private housing corporations...  students are not required to share their medical history or current health status with the university."

SDSU stated throughout their material that these measures are only in effect so long that local government health orders allow. 

Associated Students President Christian Holt, said in a video message that public gatherings could be allowed given further improvements to the coronavirus situation.

The school also said it will reassess the on-campus living situation for spring semester in October.

For now, Ulloa said she is comfortable staying in the College Area and not attending in-person classes, but hasn't ruled out the potential to return to on-campus instruction in the coming months.

"I think once things start opening up more and we start seeing cases going down rather than how it is right now where we have no answers," Ulloa said.

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