Students vacating Chico State

Spike in COVID-19 cases prompts university to cancel in-person classes, close on-campus housing

A sign of the times: Construction of the new science building seen in the reflection of a glass door will be some of the only activity on the Chico State campus this fall. (Photo by Jason Cassidy)

Citing “a troubling number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus,” Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson has canceled in-person classes and ordered the closure of university housing.

Hutchinson made the announcement Sunday (Aug. 30), six days after the start of fall classes.

“I have made the difficult but necessary decision to transition the limited number of in-person classes to virtual-only beginning Monday, August 31, for the duration of the fall semester,” she announced. “Furthermore, because nearly every on-campus residence hall has been impacted by at least one positive case and there’s concern that numbers will only increase, most on-campus housing must be vacated by Sunday, September 6.”

Due to the state’s coronavirus measures, in-person instruction already had been limited to mostly labs, performances and art-studio work—accounting for approximately 10 percent of classes—and residence halls have been at one-third capacity (about 750 students). All classes now will be virtual only, and the university will issue students prorated refunds for room and meal charges.

The announcement comes on the heels of a letter Hutchinson sent to the campus community last Wednesday (Aug. 26) expressing concerns about “the behavior of Chico State students who are disregarding the health guidelines created to keep them and the community safe.” That same day, Butte County Public Health announced that 15 new positive COVID-19 cases among college-age students had been identified at one apartment complex near the Chico State campus.

In Sunday’s announcement, Hutchinson said that the number of positive cases tied to the campus was “nearly 30” during the month of August, and the “latest reports from local public health officials indicate more positive cases are likely.”

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