April 7, 2020
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I am writing to share that our campus has been informed of what seems to be the first case of COVID-19 among our student population. A student who left campus on Tuesday, March 17, for spring break has reported testing positive for COVID-19. During the break, the student reported experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Following two weeks of self-quarantine and over a week with no symptoms, the student returned to campus on Friday, April 3, for about two hours in order to remove personal belongings from their room in Santa Cruz Residence Hall. After returning home, the student received notice that they tested positive.
The student’s visit to campus on April 3 was brief, and they reported not interacting with or coming into contact with anyone from our campus. The student, whose roommates left campus prior to spring break, reported spending time in their residence only, wearing a face covering, diligently practicing social distancing, washing and sanitizing hands frequently, and touching only their own personal belongings. We are cleaning and sanitizing both the student’s room and the common areas, and we have contacted public health officials.
According to Santa Barbara County public health officials and our campus health experts, the risk of any exposure to members of our campus community from this student’s brief visit is extremely low.
Our thoughts and warm wishes are with our student and their family, and we are grateful to them for following health and safety protocols that are in place to protect our community.
This student case further illustrates the critical importance of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and face coverings. We want to make sure our campus community is aware of the new recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings. These are issued by the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health, and our own Santa Barbara County Public Health officials.
Our campus health experts also are now recommending face coverings for people who come to campus to perform essential university functions. Face coverings can keep people who have the virus but are asymptomatic from spreading it to others. Evidence shows that covering the mouth and nose can be effective in reducing the release of airborne respiratory droplets that can infect others.
The new guidance recommends bandannas, scarves, and simple homemade cloth versions as coverings for the general public. Health experts continue to stress the need to maintain the much-needed supply of N-95 and surgical masks for doctors, nurses, and other frontline personnel.
We will continue to send updates to our campus community or post updates to our COVID-19 website as information becomes available.
And as we navigate these difficult times, I hope you will continue to take care of yourselves and each other. Our strength, both individually and collectively, is rooted in our support for one another.
Henry T. Yang