Butte County Public Health calls out college-age population for COVID-19 surge, Chico State students under investigation


Kimberly Morales

Kendall Hall on Chico State campus. Taken on Sept. 2, 2020.

Butte County Public Health announced on Wednesday that within a week, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among people ages 18-24 in Butte County had risen by 557. 

Of the 557 cases, 464 of the confirmed cases were from Chico. As Labor Day weekend approaches, BCPH urged the 18-24 age group to comply with State Orders restricting large social gatherings. 

On Aug. 26, after receiving daily reports of students participating in large social gatherings and failing to wear face coverings in public just three days into the semester, President Gayle Hutchinson and Associated Students President Breanna Holbert reiterated the values outlined in the Chico State COVID-19 commitments waiver — which had to be signed by all students prior to the start of the semester.

Both presidents announced that students who continue to voluntarily engage in unsafe behavior and violate COVID-19 community guidelines may find themselves under investigation from the office of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities. 

Emily Peart, Director of Chico State’s office of Student Conduct, Rights and Responsibilities, and head of the Campus Assessment Response and Education (CARE) Team, explained that reports of unsafe behavior to the office are confidential as it has been in previous semesters. 

While each report is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, each report receives a follow-up with suggested resources such as testing and contacting the student health center or counseling center. 

During a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Director of Off-Campus Student Services, Dan Herbert, discussed the off-campus liaison that serves as community connection partners. The liaison serves to ensure the non-academic and university community have contributed to the action of diminishing dangerous behaviors in the community. Actions include reporting unsafe social gatherings and changing language in leases to discourage parties or other large gatherings. 

“The president’s office is not looking to punish people who are connecting in a safe way,” said Peart. “We are doing everything to keep classes going and keep everyone safe. We don’t want to punish people who came to Chico for the right reasons.”

“We have a conduct for anything that jeopardizes health and safety,” said Hutchinson. “We are in the process of adjudicating those cases … it’s an investigation first, and students have the right to due process.” 

The presidents encouraged students to report unsafe behavior in the community, as a collective action must be taken to prioritize a safe return to campus in the spring. 

Kimberly Morales can be reached at [email protected] or @kimberlymnews on Twitter.