Breaking down all the latest college and coronavirus headlines in San Diego County. From denied vaccine shipments to commencement plans during COVID-19.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The door is wide open for anyone working at a local university who wants to get vaccinated. Nearly 500,000 people living in San Diego County qualified for the coronavirus vaccine after the county moved into Phase 1B on Saturday, February 27.
While the door may be open, challenges await for those who walk through. Vaccine delays and appointment cancellations still loom. Some residents feared they would miss their second dose appointment due to such a low amount of Moderna vaccines.
As vaccination efforts ramp up and become available to more age groups, occupations and conditions, the race is on to make campus communities safe from a global pandemic that uprooted in-person classes, commencement ceremonies, college life altogether and claimed the lives of more than 522,000 Americans.
From the state denying vaccines to CSU San Marcos to San Diego State revamping its commencement ceremony plans, there’s a lot of COVID-19 headlines from colleges this week.
San Diego State announces in-person option for commencement and extends hand to previous semesters’ graduates
After missing out twice on an in-person graduation ceremony, San Diego State students graduating this spring, and in previous semesters during the pandemic, may finally get a face-to-face (mask-to-mask?) commencement with their peers.
The announcement came as a campus-wide email on Friday afternoon, which announced the in-person option for commencement that came about after focus groups and soon-to-be graduate surveys.
“A majority of students have expressed a preference for an in-person event while others preferred virtual. We are committed to providing you with both options,” the email read, in part.
The dates for the in-person graduation fall from May 25 to May 27.
The university is also extending a hand to all the students who missed an in-person commencement due to the pandemic. This includes August 2020, May 2020 and December 2019 graduates.
It also includes yours truly, the author of these college and coronavirus roundups.
If the coronavirus situation worsens, SDSU is prepared for an adapted version of in-person commencement. SDSU calls it ‘CARmencement,’ a drive-through style ceremony.
Those who missed in-person graduations prior because of COVID are still welcome to this one as well.
To read the full scoop into SDSU’s commencement plans, I wrote extensively about it, with links!
While SDSU plans for an in-person reunion, the race to vaccinate continues.
SDSU confirmed in an email to News 8 that 519 campus community members have been vaccinated.
This includes the 300 doses shipped to SDSU in early February and dips into the latest shipment that arrived during the county’s shift into Phase 1B. The second shipment was also 300 doses.
519 inoculations would mean there are 81 doses remaining at SDSU’s student health center known as Calpulli.
The university wrote that while supply is limited, on-campus, individuals who qualify can get vaccinated at local clinics, pharmacies and other county locations.
“SDSU encourages all eligible members of our community to get vaccinated through any pathway accessible to them, whether through one of the County of San Diego vaccination sites, Imperial County vaccination sites, their healthcare provider or a different accessible option,” the email read, in part.
SDSU also confirmed that COVID compliance citations continue to be issued to individuals and organizations.
Since New Year’s, 195 contacts with individuals were made regarding alleged COVID-19 violations.
“Disciplinary and student conduct investigations into these alleged violations are regularly ongoing,” the email read, in part.
SDSU communications officials did not answer questions in time regarding suspensions or further consequences related to these citations.
Since January 20, 84 students living on-campus have reported positive cases for COVID-19.
174 total campus community members have tested positive for the virus since January 20, according to the COVID-19 reporting dashboard.
CSU San Marcos denied vaccines numerous times, reports zero campus cases through mandatory testing
While San Diego State, USD and UC San Diego continue to administer vaccine doses to campus community members, CSU San Marcos has been denied doses.
In an email sent to News 8, communications specialist Brian Hiro wrote that the school requested vaccines four times, four weeks in a row, and were denied every time.
Hiro wrote that the campus has received zero vaccines for its campus community, and doesn’t know what the state says in its vaccine rejection.
News 8 called Governor Gavin Newsom’s office numerous times Friday afternoon to ask why CSUSM was left out of vaccine shipments. His office never picked up or replied to emails requesting comment.
CSUSM announced an expanded, mandatory testing program for students living on campus or attending classes on February 15.
From that day until March 4, Hiro confirmed that 1,687 tests were administered to students and zero positive tests were reported.
Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, 113 total cases have been reported by the university.
265 students are living on-campus at the college this semester and about 164 classes are being hosted in-person — that’s seven percent of the total courses offered at CSUSM.
University of San Diego recovers from initial case spike, vaccine efforts continue
In the last four weeks, University of San Diego reported 157 total cases of coronavirus among campus community members. This is still fewer cases than reported in one week between January 31 and February 6, where 169 campus community members reportedly tested positive.
USD had a quick turnaround for campus cases, and credits the swift action taken by University President James T. Harris to sequester students into a stay-on-campus order for the majority of February.
The on-campus order was set to expire on March 1, but university officials lifted the order a few days early.
In the last two weeks, 54 university cases were reported. 26 were from students living on-campus, 25 were from students living off-campus, two were from employees working on-campus and one was a remote employee.
Outdoor dining for students on-campus resumed on Monday, March 1. Students are also expected to continue participating in Rady Children’s Hospital weekly COVID-19 testing on campus.
More information on the stay-on-campus order being lifted can be found here.
Meantime on the vaccine front, USD says it’s received 1,000 total vaccine doses since January. 500 doses were received in late February while 500 were previously received at the end of January.
USD says it continues to request more doses from the state, but says communication is spotty.
“The university orders vaccine doses every week, we do not know how many we will actually receive or when,” communications officer Lissette Martinez wrote to News 8. “When we receive additional vaccines, we coordinate the scheduling of vaccinations for the eligible groups.”
Martinez wrote that just like San Diego State, eligible campus community members can get vaccinated at any other location in the county, local pharmacies or their medical providers.
If you work for the private university, Martinez says you can email Human Resources for a verification letter to bring to your vaccination appointment.