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State releases guidance for community colleges, universities as they finalize fall plans

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SACRAMENTO (KGET) – The California Department of Public Health released guidance today for higher education as community colleges and universities finalize their plans for the upcoming fall semester. 

One of the most significant restrictions is that indoor lecture courses will not be allowed at higher ed institutions in counties that have been on the state watchlist for at least three consecutive days. Kern County is currently on the monitoring list, according to the state. 

However, the state said specialized courses that require in-person instruction will still be allowed as long as students are able to maintain physical distancing. 

In addition, higher ed institutions must require face coverings, establish a campus-specific COVID-19 prevention plan, limit nonessential visitors and campus activities, close nonessential shared spaces and provide grab-and-go meal options, according to the guidelines. 

“As colleges and other institutions of higher education plan to resume in-person instruction, it’s critical that campuses make modifications to reduce risk,” said state Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “This guidance aims to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our students, families and the communities where they study.”  

Cal State Bakersfield announced last month that it is offering 51 on-campus courses with 865 students enrolled in them. Most are courses in hands-on subjects such as art, music and science. 

Bakersfield College has not publicly announced final plans for fall yet.

The new guidance also includes directives for athletics. Practice may resume only if there is regular COVID-19 testing of athletes and support staff. Isolation and quarantine will be required upon a positive test, according to CDPH. 

Competition between teams without spectators can begin only if an institution can provide COVID-19 testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high-contact sports. Schools must provide notification within 48 hours of a competition if an athlete tests positive, according to the guidelines. 

In addition, the guidelines also require coaches, staff and others not directly involved in play to wear masks.

“California will consider further action if the NCAA or other sport institutions fail to meet these requirements and prioritize their economic interests over the health and well-being of players – and their families,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

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