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University Of San Diego Institutes Stay-On-Campus Order Due To COVID-19 Spike

A long line of people waiting to get tested at the USD Former USD Electronics Recycling Center testing site. Nov. 23, 2020.
Guillermo Sevilla
A long line of people waiting to get tested at the USD Former USD Electronics Recycling Center testing site. Nov. 23, 2020.

University of San Diego has instituted a stay-on-campus order through the end of the month due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases, which school officials largely attribute to off-campus parties and social events, the university announced Friday.

In a video message posted on the school's website and social media pages, USD President James T. Harris III outlined a number of "temporary directives" for students living both on and off-campus.

University Of San Diego Institutes Stay-On-Campus Order Due To COVID-19 Spike
Listen to this story by John Carroll.

Under the new directives, on-campus resident students are only permitted off-campus for essential reasons, such as "emergencies or essential purposes such as employment, medical care, religious services or to purchase groceries or other essential items," he said.

Outdoor exercise was encouraged, however, "while taking appropriate precautions."

Student organizations must continue their activities through virtual or remote means only.

Students living off-campus were also asked to stay home "to the greatest extent possible and curtail in-person interactions with others outside of those with whom you live."

Calling the recent spike in cases "significant," Harris said "Our numbers in the past few weeks have grown to levels that if they continue on this trajectory, will require us to make some tough decisions about the future of the spring semester."

Video: University Of San Diego Institutes Stay-On-Campus Order Due To COVID-19 Spike

While the school has provided some isolation housing for quarantining students, Harris said, "We are not a medical center and we only have so much capacity for isolation and quarantine."

Harris said contact tracing efforts have shown that parties and other off-campus social events "coupled with a disregard by some for our health and safety measures both on and off campus" are the primary causes of the recent case surge.

"This is not the time for attending parties, socializing in groups or adopting a casual approach to our health and safety protocols," Harris said.

The spike happened during the week of January 31 through February 6 when 169 cases were reported. In the week that's just ending, the case number dropped to 54.