October 20, 2020
It has been about a month since we last wrote to you about our response plans for violations of COVID-19 public health orders in Isla Vista. Last week you received an alert about two COVID-19 outbreaks at fraternity and sorority houses in Isla Vista. Since Friday, many more positive cases have been found and we are extremely concerned that COVID-19 may be spreading rapidly throughout Isla Vista and not just in sororities and fraternities. This increase in cases may unfortunately impact County re-opening plans and could mean a return to more restrictive shutdowns, impacting many local off-campus jobs held by students, the return to in-person classes, and the ability of the campus to re-open study and recreation facilities for in-person activities.
As you might imagine, there is a large amount of community outrage about this situation and the focus has been on University students. We recognize that many, if not most, students have and continue to comply with the health orders, and that not all of those who party or gather in Isla Vista are UCSB students. While the spread of COVID-19 may not be our individual fault, it is our collective problem. Students, faculty, staff, administrators, the County, and the entire Isla Vista community must all work together to keep our community healthy.
Current Enforcement and Educational Efforts
We want to reassure you that since the summer when we set up the public report form, UCSB has responded to every report that has come in, and that our efforts have shown positive results. There have been very few repeat reports about the same addresses once we communicate with residents to express concern and remind them of the health orders. For those very few who have been involved in repeated reports, the University continues to follow up and work with our community partners until we receive compliance. When warnings are not enough and students are identified, our Office of Student Conduct becomes involved and may issue a charge to an individual or organization alleged to have violated University policies. The University has also been working with Santa Barbara City College which conducts a similar effort for their student residents in Isla Vista. In addition, the County has worked with property owners to enforce lease violations when applicable.
We continue to collaborate with the Isla Vista Community Services District (IVCSD), the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, and the County of Santa Barbara, who collectively share jurisdiction over Isla Vista. It is important for you to know that yesterday the County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to impose fines on individuals at properties where unlawful gatherings are held.
All of the local stakeholders in Isla Vista are working hard to manage this challenging situation and hold accountable those who fail to comply with local health orders through education and, if necessary, punitive efforts. But, we need all Isla Vista residents to join this partnership for it to be effective.
Quarantine and Isolation
Quarantine and isolation are effective ways of containing and managing an outbreak of COVID-19. If you are told to quarantine because of exposure, or isolate because of a positive test result, it is essential that you follow these directives exactly. Failure to do so not only risks the health and safety of others, but is punishable by law and could be a violation of the UCSB Student Conduct Code. The University has quarantine and isolation housing available for students should your current housing situation not meet the requirements.
Quarantine and isolation may be challenging. All students are encouraged to identify a “buddy” ahead of time who can assist with basic needs such as delivering groceries and other essentials should you be told you need to comply. You should not, for any reason, break the quarantine or isolation protocols, as this renders them ineffective and you could be held responsible by the County or UCSB for failure to comply. Activities such as going to work, going to an in-person class, running errands, going home, visiting friends or significant others or inviting friends or significant others to visit you are all prohibited if you are in isolation or quarantine. If a work or school situation arises where you are told you must show up in person, please alert a University staff member with the isolation and quarantine coordination team who can help you navigate this situation. Basic needs resources are also available should isolation or quarantine present an extreme financial or other hardship.
It is both essential to quell the spread of COVID-19 and required by law and University policy to cooperate and share requested information with the Student Health and County contact tracing teams. Their primary goal is to keep you and the community healthy and obstructing their work during a public health emergency is simply unacceptable. What you tell a health professional is confidential, i.e. not shared with the Office of Student Conduct, and you may be saving a life by cooperating.
Gatherings Outside of Immediate Households are Still Prohibited by Local Public Health Orders
We understand that spending time with friends is important for student well-being and that virtual hangouts are valuable but not the same as time together in person, particularly after weeks of online learning. However, gatherings of any group outside of our immediate households are still prohibited by public health orders as a necessary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, which must be everyone’s priority for the time being. Unfortunately, we are not yet in a situation where it is safe to see friends outside of your household in person unless you are participating in approved recreational activities such as walks or bike rides and are maintaining physical distance and wearing a face covering.
Some students have asked if it is okay to gather with other residents within their own apartment complex or duplex. This is also not allowed by current orders. A household means only the people who live in your unit. Similarly, inviting just a few friends over, even when keeping it small and taking precautions, is also not allowed.
Face coverings are the best prevention mechanism we have for slowing the spread of COVID-19. But they don’t work if we don’t wear them, and they don’t work if we only wear them some of the time. Of the dozens of videos and reports sent to us from the past few weekends, not one shows a single person wearing a face covering while walking through Isla Vista at night nor at any of the gatherings or parties that were reported. This simple precaution could be monumental in getting a handle on this pandemic if we all just do it.
Free face coverings continue to be available at no cost throughout Isla Vista and may be picked up at any of these local business and community resources: Miramar Food Pantry, Rockfire Grill, Pizza My Heart, Buddha Bowls, IV Deli-mart, Caje, Richie’s Barber Shop, St. George Youth Center, IV Community Center, IV Neighborhood Clinic, and the IV Food Coop.
Free COVID-19 testing, with or without UCSHIP insurance, is available to all UCSB students through Student Health. Testing is also available at Isla Vista Theater on October 23, 24 & November 6, and 7 from 12pm-4pm. Walk-ins and appointments are available. More dates will continue to be added. Additionally, testing is available at the Goleta Valley Community Center at 5679 Hollister Avenue in Goleta by appointment. For more information or to sign up for an appointment at either the Isla Vista or Goleta testing centers, click here.
Halloween is less than two weeks away. This year, Halloween will and must be a stay-at-home event. Associated Students Program Board is bringing you a virtual comedy show on Friday and a virtual concert on Saturday (more details and the line up to be announced soon). The IVCSD is hosting “Halloween-at-Home: Virtually Lucid Isla Vista” on Friday night which includes a virtual show as well as contests with cash prizes. There will also be many fun virtual events beginning Thursday through Recreation and other departments that can be found on Shoreline.
This Halloween, there can be no gatherings of friends, visitors from out of town, parties, trick-or-treating, or strolling the streets in crowds anywhere in Santa Barbara County, including Isla Vista. By nature, UCSB students are leaders, and we trust you will set the tone for Isla Vista this Halloween by staying home. The rest of the community needs you to be that example. And be warned, as always, enforcement efforts by local law enforcement will be stepped up during the Halloween weekend and the festival ordinance will be in effect.
Your continued support of all the various efforts in Isla Vista to slow the spread of COVID-19 is so very appreciated. Working together we will get through this.
Margaret Klawunn, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Katya Armistead, Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Student Life
Suzanne Perkin, Associate Dean of Student Life