Dear SDSU community,

Our San Diego State University community continues to take precautions under our SDSU Flex plan as public health officials have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases across San Diego county and the state. We are seeing similar case spikes in states across the nation. Public health officials indicate that higher case rates are expected through the holiday and winter seasons.

While COVID-19 cases connected with our SDSU community have been quite low for the last two months, the case rate of San Diego County and our state poses a risk to our community. To be responsive, and in the interest of health and safety, some additional actions are being shared below as part of our SDSU Flex plan.

 
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Courses to be Mostly Virtual for Remainder of Fall

In consultation with county public health officials, SDSU is preparing to pause the majority of remaining in-person instruction for the fall term, beginning the week of Thanksgiving, next week.

Faculty offering in-person courses are encouraged to shift to virtual, preferably by Friday, Nov. 20. All faculty should convert to virtual instruction no later than Wednesday, Nov. 25. Students are encouraged to be in touch with their respective faculty members for additional direction.

Off-campus teaching activities at non-SDSU institutions, to include hospitals and clinics, can continue as scheduled, following the latest COVID-19 safety guidelines of those institutions.

Prior to the county’s new enforcement plans announced yesterday, we had already surveyed faculty who have been offering in-person instruction this fall. Most indicated that they were already planning to conclude in-person activities by the Thanksgiving closure, which is Nov. 26-27. Further restricting the number of people physically returning after the Thanksgiving holiday will help us to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

 
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On-Campus Student Housing

We previously shared that all residents must share their post-Thanksgiving housing plans no later than Nov. 20. We urge all students who have not responded to the online housing survey to do so as soon as possible.

Based on survey responses to date, we have found that many students intended to remain home after Thanksgiving for the final weeks of the fall term. For those returning, required COVID-19 testing will continue to be in place according to the scheduling details shared with students directly via their official SDSU email accounts. Every student living in on-campus housing should check their SDSU email regularly.

Impact on In-Person Research

No in-person research by freshmen, sophomores or volunteers will be allowed for the remainder of the fall term, beginning Friday, Nov. 20.

Due to the overlap with timely graduation requirements and capstone requirements, juniors or seniors who are either enrolled in research credit or who are paid as research employees may continue in-person work on approved, critical research projects as long as they follow all public health criteria including: maintaining physical distancing; wearing a facial covering at all times while on campus, including in research spaces; washing hands frequently; and disinfecting work stations and equipment.

Likewise, graduate students may continue to work on approved, critical research projects as long as they follow all specified public health criteria, as noted above.

In all cases, research that can be done remotely should occur remotely. This includes planning experiments, analysis of data, reading research literature, and any laboratory or small group meetings.

Given the current surge of COVID-19 cases in our region, it is imperative to carefully abide by all of the health and safety requirements, and to impress on all personnel that their behavior outside of the research group could impact the continuation of both their research and that of the entire group.

 
 

Recommendations for COVID-19 Testing

As a reminder, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and regional public health officials are discouraging holiday travel. If you must travel, you should get COVID-19 tested per public health guidelines before and after you travel.

Several options exist for COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff. Know that because of the heightened demand for testing throughout the region and state, you are encouraged to prioritize testing as soon as possible:

  • Contact your primary care physician or healthcare facility that offers COVID-19 testing.

  • Student Health Services continues to offer testing services to students. Testing is available by appointment via HealtheConnect, the secure online health portal. Students can also schedule appointments by calling Student Health Services at 619-594-4325.

  • Students taking in-person classes, involved in in-person research,and who are living on campus will continue to be assigned regular testing slots. We ask that you be attentive to your official SDSU email this week for testing information.

  • San Diego County and Imperial County also provide testing sites, and additional information is on their respective COVID-19 sites. Students, faculty and staff at SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley are eligible to seek testing at county sites at no cost.

If you are having any trouble identifying testing resources, contact 211 San Diego.

We will also require that all students who choose to return to campus housing after the holiday get COVID-19 tested. This is an imperative, and will help us to take necessary precautions to help avoid community spread should any student test positive upon return. Additional information will be shared with students via email.

In Closing

In a statement directed to all residents in San Diego County, Dr. Wilma Wooten said too many San Diego residents are not taking appropriate measures to protect themselves or others from COVID-19.

In the statement, Dr. Wooten said the following:

 
 

“Exactly a month ago, we sounded the alarm about the possibility of entering the purple tier and last Tuesday we confirmed that we had moved to the most restrictive tier. I had hoped those warnings would lead to a new trend in our personal and collective behavior. Over the last weeks, we have seen the results of what can happen when we relax our personal behaviors and let down our guard.”

 
 

We must continue to take careful steps to ensure the safety and well-being not only of our students, faculty and staff, but also our family members and communities. As a reminder, the university offers a range of support services, including mental health services, to students and employees. Just as you are taking care of your physical health, also take care of your mental and emotional well-being.

Again, we thank all members of our community for your continued understanding and for your dedication to your own teaching, research and learning. We continue to see stabilization in COVID-19 cases connected to our community and extend our deep appreciation for your efforts to keep health and safety at the forefront of all that you do. Unfortunately, this is not the case in our county, our state and or in locations across the nation, so we must remain vigilant and take extra care, no matter where we are located.

Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President

Salvador Hector Ochoa, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

 
 

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