COVID-19-Positive Student Says SDSU Was Slow to Make Isolation Housing Available

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San Diego State University students who live on campus and test positive for the coronavirus are promised isolation housing, but one student said it's taking longer than expected to get a room.

The surge in positive cases among students was discovered a mere 10 days after on-campus instruction began .

Among the 184 students considered positive or probable to have COVID-19 since Aug. 24 is a first-year student whose mother regrets ever letting her return to school.

“We honestly got a nightmare on our hands and I figure it’s only a matter of time before I bring my daughter home,” Shelley Flanagan said.

Flanagan, who lives in Colorado, said she was worried about moving daughter Ava into on-campus housing in the first place, but said SDSU eased her concerns by assuring her there were safe protocols in place. One such protocol was having isolation quarters readily available, but Flanagan and her daughter claim that wasn’t exactly true.

The county confirmed it is investigating multiple clusters of COVID-19 cases among students

“She woke up with a 101 temperature, she had a splitting headache, she had a sore throat. About a day later she lost her sense of taste and smell,” Flanagan said, describing her daughter’s initial bout with COVID-19 symptoms.

Ava went to SDSU Student Health Services for a coronavirus test and was instructed to go back to her apartment with her three other roommates -- which aligns with the university’s quarantine protocol – to wait for her results.

“When I talked with a doctor at the SDSU clinic, he said, ‘Well, they probably have it, so just send her back there, but we don’t know if they do, we’re just trying to do the right thing here,” Flanagan remembered.

Ava decided to stay at her sister’s home in Encinitas while waiting for her results. She learned she had tested positive two days late, but Flanagan said she didn't receive instruction on moving to isolation housing until later the next day.

“Unfortunately, my story is not the only one out there and it’s just going to get worse,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan said Ava isn't sure how she contracted the coronavirus.

An SDSU spokesperson said the university can’t comment on specific cases due to HIPPA laws, but said they are following county protocols and coordinating with several entities before moving students from quarantine to isolation.

As of Friday, there were 150 students in isolation on campus. SDSU representatives said the school was working with the county to secure more isolation boarding.

If students living on campus leave and come back they are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to university president Adele de la Torre.

The university first announced on Wednesday there were 64 positive or probable cases among on and off-campus students. The school said then it was pausing all in-person instruction for at least four weeks.

School officials said the number was likely to grow to triple digits, and on Friday it announced 120 more positive or probable cases.

De la Torre said the university is deploying security guards to enforce public health order restrictions on campus and in the surrounding College Area.

SDSU's Student Health Services tests about 100 students per day.

“Testing alone and testing once isn’t enough. We need to have an environment that allows students to understand we want them to be proactive in testing, we want to work with the county, and we want to have the opportunity to use educational messages that our students need to listen to to change their behavior. And if we aren’t able to do this, the plague of parties we see around campus will not stop," de la Torre said.

As of Friday, 457 COVID-related student violations had been issued and 285 had been adjudicated, according to a university spokesperson. None so far have resulted in suspension or expulsion.

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