Chapman University sees COVID-19 outbreak as in-person classes resume

Local news

In-person classes are back at Chapman University in Orange County, and more than 200 positive coronavirus cases have been identified among students.

Many roommates are isolating and students are being placed in different locations as school officials are trying to figure out what caused the outbreak.

“I’m honestly feeling pretty anxious about the whole thing,” Riley Murphy, a student at the university, said. 

Class resumed Monday and already coronavirus cases are exploding.

“I’ve had people get texts saying they’ve been exposed and get up and say ‘I have to go my roommate has COVID,’” Murphy said. 

A total of 437 new cases were reported across the county Thursday, and according to the university’s website there were 223 known cases connected to the campus as of Wednesday. That included 221 students, one staff member and one faculty member.  

The university said it tested 996 individuals Wednesday, giving it a positivity rate of 6.9%.

The outbreak comes with 89% of students vaccinated.

One student, Lydia Wharton, said she and many others had to move out of their dorm rooms.

“I have three roommates, two of them got COVID,” Wharton said. “I think it’s mostly because of the Greek life parties are out and about, orientation week is kind of crazy.”

Student Kris Cruse also complained that social gatherings were a problem.

“People are not wearing masks at any of the parties, and they are all very close, very small spaces usually,” Cruse said.

“It’s been a little frightening to say the least,” Wharton said.

The vice president of Chapman says the school is currently working with public health officials to pinpoint the cause of the current campus viral spread, but due to the timing of diagnoses, these cases are not attributed to times spent in the classroom.

While they say that spread is inevitable, some students are taking extra precaution.

“I have been taking a lot of precautions: bringing sanitary wipes, double masking when I can, wearing the correct masks,” Cruse said. 

The university is offering Zoom classes only to those who have been diagnosed with the virus or those who were exposed, but students say they should all have the option.

Chapman University is continuing to follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but some students say that since so many vaccinated students are getting infected, they’d like to see more testing.

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