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University of San Diego institutes stay-on-campus order due to COVID-19 spike

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Posted at 1:00 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 20:47:32-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Students at the University of San Diego are sheltering in place following a massive COVID-19 outbreak on campus.

One in ten students living on campus has contracted the virus since move-in began for the spring semester.

Senior Celina Tebor has a pulse on the USD campus community.

“COVID-19 cases from the past two weeks surpassed the number of cases from fall 2020,” said Tebor. She’s an editor for the school newspaper, The USD Vista, and has been watching the outbreak closely.

“The rush process happens in the spring at our school and there weren’t any reports of Greek Life incidents in the fall, but there have been some this spring,” said Tebor.

The school tells ABC 10News there are 1,080 students living on campus this semester, up from 600 last fall.

Tebor says student received an email from the school Friday with a warning for on-campus residents.

“They basically hinted that if our numbers continue to grow, they’re going to have to send all students living on-campus home,” said Tebor. “They’ve been living on campus for less than a month, but quarantine housing is filling up at the university.”

In a video released on Twitter, University President James T. Harris III attributed the new cases to students not following precautions, hinting at social gatherings and parties being a contributor.

“It is clear from our tracing efforts that parties and other social gatherings off-campus are occurring,” said Harris. "This is not the time for attending parties, socializing in groups or adopting a casual approach to our health and safety protocols."

Move-in for on-campus residents started on Jan. 22. The following week, new cases more than doubled in the campus community. More than 281 cases have been reported between students and faculty both on and off-campus since the spring semester started.

The school has been operating on a hybrid learning model since fall. Most classes are online while some classes, like labs, are in-person.

The school has issued new rules in response to the outbreak.

Students who live on-campus can only leave for essential reasons like getting groceries or going to work. All in-person labs, research, meetings, and student activities must be virtual. Students living off-campus are instructed to isolate themselves.

Outdoor exercise is encouraged while taking precautions to limit the potential for spreading the virus.

On-campus students are encouraged to only head off campus for "emergencies or essential purposes such as employment, medical care, religious services or to purchase groceries or other essential items."