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The University of California, Berkeley extended a self-sequester mandate on Monday in order to contain the surge of the virus on campus, although cases have been declining in the city of Berkeley.
First reported by The Daily Californian, UC Berkeley student affairs sent an email to students explaining its current COVID-19 restrictions. The mandate applies to all students living in the residence halls and will remain in effect until at least February 15. The self-sequester guidelines do not apply to students who live in university-owned apartments or who are living in off-campus housing.
According to The Daily Californian, students who reside in the dormitories must stay inside their rooms and may only exit “in case of emergency or to obtain medical care, comply with testing requirements or receive food from the Cal Dining kiosks,” where food is offered for pick-up at certain times during the day. SF Gate reports that medical care includes mental health care, as well.
Contrary to former self-sequestering directions, students are not allowed to participate in “solo outdoor exercise.” According to SF Gate, the university released a memo detailing the current situation regarding outdoor activity.
“We are working with the city of Berkeley to determine whether outdoor exercise may be permitted, and we will provide more information on this in the near future.”
The email warned students of repercussions if they did not comply with the rules, including potential removal from housing or suspension from the university. Students were also told to notify their resident assistants if they witness any violations of the mandate by their peers.
“Right now it is critical that you avoid gatherings — large or small — even with your residential household grouping, whether indoors or outdoors, and even if your most recent COVID test is negative,” the email reads.
SF Gate reports that “students have allegedly reported external violations of COVID-19 guidelines” that have taken place off-campus at fraternities or other sites that are not under the self-sequester mandate.
One student reportedly told The Daily Californian:
“I’m just mad at the individuals who are getting together in large, unsafe groups, then bringing back [COVID] to their living spaces.”
According to UC Berkeley’s coronavirus tracking information, the university has held a lower positivity test rate than the City of Berkeley for the past several months. The beginning of this week saw a shift in those numbers, as UC Berkeley (all populations) started with a positivity rate of 1.6% and the City of Berkeley had a .6% positivity rate.
The university’s email noted that “due to the 14 day incubation period of this virus, it is too early to be sure we have contained this current surge.” Meanwhile, students can expect an increased security presence of UCPD officers, along with staff checking “testing badges and Cal 1 Cards more frequently.”
The school’s email also added, “we strongly recommend against returning to your family/home, where you could risk spreading infection to others” and included information regarding the availability of counseling and psychological services for virtual counseling and assistance.