Chico State Students Sent Home Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

California State University, Chico is going virtual for the remainder of the fall semester following what school administrators called "a troubling trend" in new coronavirus cases tied to campus.

The fall semester was just under way and students had only moved into the dorms a few weeks ago, but students were told they needed to pack up again and be off campus by this weekend in an announcement posted to the school’s website Sunday.

Beginning Monday, the few classes that had been scheduled to take place in person will now be online.

"I commend the continued flexibility and sacrifice by a majority of our campus community in keeping themselves and those around them safe," President Gayle Hutchinson wrote. "Unfortunately, with COVID-19, exposure to even a small number of individuals has serious consequences in terms of community spread."

Some students are disappointed.

"(I) wish that there was in-person classes, like, without COVID," one student said. "I would want to enjoy my freshman year."

But others tell Action News Now in Chico they saw this coming.

"I am not actually surprised because there’s a lot of students in large gatherings going out every weekend," another student said.

At least 30 people connected with the campus community tested positive for the coronavirus just days after the fall semester started. Hutchinson said the university made the decision to close on-campus housing because nearly all of the residence halls have at least one positive case.

Administrators, meanwhile, continue to be concerned that things could get much worse.

"The transition to virtual-only learning and reducing on-campus housing doesn’t mean the Chico State community can relax its commitment to keeping ourselves and those around us in the larger Chico community safe," Hutchinson added. "On the contrary, the rapid spread of the virus among our Wildcat community is evidence that we must continue and improve our efforts to follow COVID-19 best practices like physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing hands in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 spike that we’ve witnessed this past week."

Just last week, students were asked to avoid parties, monitor for symptoms and self-report if it was suspected they came into contact with someone who was infected.

Most Bay Area college campuses started the school year virtually.