ORANGE (CBSLA) — Officials at Chapman University working to contain a coronavirus outbreak among at least 37 students say there seems to be “no apparent connection” between the cases.
Before its announcement to transition to limited in-person instruction for undergraduate students starting Monday, the university implemented several coronavirus prevention guidelines, including requiring face coverings and encouraging physical distancing and proper handwashing.
Undergraduate students and faculty were not required to return to campus for the start of the Fall Semester, so classes were expected to be a mixture of online, hybrid and in-person instruction.
According to the Chapman’s online COVID-19 tracking, 17 students who tested positive for coronavirus live in dorms at Orange Campus, 19 others live off-campus near Orange Campus, and one student’s housing arrangement is unknown.
Officials say it appears community spread — and not a gathering like one reported at USC — caused the cases among students.
“Our tracing has not been able to demonstrate that it was connected to any events at Chapman, it probably is the mysterious community transfer,” said Harold Hewitt, Chapman University EVP and CEO. “They were not all together and they were not in an off-campus party altogether.”
The students who have tested positive are now in isolation, and no faculty or staff have reported testing positive, officials said.
Every student in the university’s housing system has their own private room and a connecting private bathroom.
University officials say some in-person graduate classes are already underway with about 1,200 students — approximately half of the graduate student population — opting to be on campus.
About half of the 4,000 undergraduate students eligible to return for in-person learning on Monday are expected to be on campus, the school said.
“We put very high-end technology in our 126-plus classrooms so that every faculty member could tech hybrid,” Hewitt said.
Chapman University says it spent $15 million over the summer to put in coronavirus safety precautions like shields to help maintain physical distancing and technology for remote learning, among other adjustments.
Starting Monday, the university also said anyone who spends time on campus will have to get a coronavirus test a minimum of once a month.
Other groups of students who meet frequently in person, like athletes and lab students, are expected to be tested more often.