Jessica Garzaro receives a nasal swab COVID-19 test as a mandatory requirement for students living on campus on Friday at the University Park North testing site. (Jun Ueda / Golden Gate Xpress) (Jun Ueda)
SF State mandates COVID-19 testing for campus residents, yields three positives
SF State administered 436 COVID-19 tests to students
As a part of a new COVID-19 safety program, SF State has mandated incoming students who are living on campus to be tested and quarantined before returning for the Spring semester.
Returning residential students were tested on Jan. 21, and new residential students were tested on Jan. 22 and 23; both new and returning students were then retested on Jan. 29 after quarantining for a week. According to a University Housing FAQ, students received their test results between 24-36 hours after the test was administered. Testing on campus is still being offered at University Park North.
“All students living on campus for the spring semester were required to be tested upon return to campus or move-in and to then quarantine for seven days,” said Eugene Chelberg, associate vice president for Student Affairs, in an email to Xpress.
Roger Elrod, the director of Student Health Services, said that the department wanted a COVID-19 free start to the semester. “The whole idea was to test, as much as possible, every student coming back into the residence hall so they could have a fair amount of confidence that we weren’t creating a cluster situation — of COVID spreading.”
According to Chelburg, of the 436 students tested since Jan. 21, three tested positive and are currently self-isolating in what the FAQ called “isolation units as identified by the University,” provided by Residential Life.
At the time of publication, San Francisco County has recorded 31,791 total COVID-19 cases.
Ivan Ayala, a computer science major who lives on campus, has been tested twice since moving in. “I think it’s still necessary because we can have roommates who could go out, or we can be in an environment where we don’t know who has COVID,” Ayala said. “I think it’s appropriate, plus it keeps everyone safe to prevent the spread because already right now, there are thousands affected every day in California, especially in the Bay Area… At the end of the day, we have to keep each other safe.”
Manzanita Square, one of the student housing complexes at SF State, issued a more sobering COVID-19 policy addendum to prepare incoming students.
“San Francisco State University has taken and will continue to take various measures to address the health and safety of students in on-campus housing,” it reads. “However, those measures cannot completely eliminate the risk of exposure.”
Despite the risk those in campus housing face, Elrod commended students for the weight they put on maintaining a safe campus. “The students are doing an amazing job at taking this seriously,” Elrod said. “So I think for those students that have come on campus, they really deserve a pat on the back for being very cautious and compliant.”
In an effort to extend campus safety beyond just residents, SF State is working in conjunction with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to develop a “COVID-19 surveillance testing plan” for non-residents visiting the campus, according to Chelburg. SF State is also the host of a vaccination site in the city, hosted by SFDPH and in conjunction with Safeway.
For now, the University suggests community members go to their primary health care provider for a test or locate one of San Francisco’s 30 testing sites. Efforts like these will be crucial to California State University’s plan to return to in-person classes this fall.