A stay-at-home order issued for students on campus at San Diego State University in response to surging confirmed and probable coronavirus cases was extended Monday, and students are now being asked to stay inside their dorms until next Tuesday.
Nearly 300 students have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are considered probable.
"Even though the majority of students are following the general prevention guidance and university policies, we continue to see a rise in COVID-19 cases among the student body," the university said.
Students are being asked to leave their residences only for essential needs. Students who live off-campus are also expected to stay home, and if they live in the College Area they should abide by SDSU's COVID-19 Advisory in effect until next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, student leaders have been critical of the university's handling of the situation on campus and say it appears to be outpacing administrators.
“Here we are making headlines for a horrible reason again,” said Brenden Tuccinardi, Editor-in-Chief of the university's student-run newspaper The Daily Aztec.
As of Sunday night, SDSU reported 286 probable and confirmed student cases of coronavirus, after just two weeks since the start of the semester.
“I’m scared to see what the number is today because I think it’s just going to exponentially grow today,” said Tuccinardi.
Tuccinardi joins others critical of the university’s decision to allow students to move back on campus, when the majority of classes were online.
Last week, administrators suspended all in-person classes for at least four weeks in response to the rising number of student cases.
“The university didn’t expect students to be students,” said Tuccinardi.
A College Area homeowner sent NBC 7 cell phone video and photos of students partying on a rooftop last week.
It’s scenes like that that fueled the school paper’s recent, biting editorial – which starts by saying, “There are a lot expletives we could use to describe the current situation,” and ends with, “Stay home and for expletive's sake, wear a mask."
Tuccinardi said that tone of urgency was called for because it was missing from administrators – administrators he believes should have cracked down sooner, and harder, on student parties and mask mandates.
“I don’t think that they didn’t necessarily have a plan,” said Tuccinardi. “It’s that the plan didn’t have enough teeth."
“We are doing everything that we can that’s within our control to ensure that we are doing our part,” said SDSU Vice President of Student Affairs Luke Wood, Ph.D.
Wood said it is now “all hands on deck” to stop the spread on campus.
“We have seen a reduction in social activity over this weekend,” said Wood, suggesting the stay-at-home order is working.
His office has now issued more than 450 student citations for violating university COVID-19 policies.
However, Wood said due to housing-insecure students, closing the dorms is pretty much off the table.
“We’re not going to close,” said Wood. “Because we’re not going to be sending those students away.”
“At the end of the day,” says Tuccinardi. “Administration was the one who said, ‘Yeah, come back to campus, we’ll make sure it’s safe for you.’ But they didn’t do enough to do that.”
The university said it has yet to see any of its students hospitalized due to complications form COVID-19, and said its case total is low compared to some universities of equal size across the nation.
SDSU isn’t the only local university getting some heat. Hundreds of UC San Diego students and faculty just signed a letter calling for the university to reverse course on plans to move in thousands of students into dorms this month.