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All on-campus students at Cal State Long Beach have been placed under quarantine starting Saturday, Sept. 26, after five students tested positive and school officials learned they “congregated socially” off-campus earlier this month, officials said.

In addition, all in-person instruction will be paused for two weeks while officials perform contact tracing, University President Jane Close Conoley said in a statement released Saturday.

School officials learned late Friday that a number of students attended an off-campus gathering that went against school guidelines related to COVID-19, Conoley said. When and where the gathering took place, and how many students attended, was not disclosed as officials were being mindful of privacy considerations while conducting contact-tracing, said Jeff Cook, chief communications officer at the university.

Four of the five students who tested positive live on campus in the residence halls, Conoley said.

Officials plan to test all students who live on campus, she said.

Currently, 328 students have started a two-week quarantine, Cook said. That number is a fraction of the number of students the university usually houses, he added.

“We still have to complete our contact-tracing work and investigate further to definitively identify everyone potentially impacted,” Cook said.

School officials also plan to review the number of employees who were on campus and will offer tests to those who need them.

“As you know, we took a conservative approach to the fall semester by vastly reducing the number of students in our residence halls and the number of classes offered on campus,” Conoley said. “Unfortunately, even with our proactive efforts we need to adapt and respond to this new challenge.”

Officials plan to clean and disinfect facilities as needed and investigate related student conduct issues.

Other Southern California campuses have been hit by the virus. San Diego State University issued a similar quarantine this summer. SDSU has reported at least 819 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since its campus reopened Aug. 24.

As of Saturday, UCLA officials said 270 members of the campus community had tested positive for COVID-19 since March 16.

In late August, USC officials announced 104 positive cases among students living in off-campus housing over a four-day period and attributed the outbreak to small gatherings, including study sessions, dinners and a Monopoly game.

Because of the continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, Chancellor Timothy P. White announced earlier this month that the 23 CSU schools, including Long Beach, would continue primarily through virtual instruction during the Spring semester, which begins January 2021.

“This decision is the only responsible one available to us at this time,” White said in the Sept. 10 statement. “And it is the only one that supports our twin North Stars of safeguarding the health, safety and well-being of our faculty, staff, students and communities, as well as enabling degree progression for the largest number of students.”

White, 71, announced in October that he would be retiring, effective in July 2020. But he delayed those plans in March when the coronavirus pandemic took hold, forcing the system and its students into the virtual learning environment. The search process for his replacement was also put on temporary hold.

However, after months of delay, the Board of Trustees last week appointed Fresno State University President Joseph I. Castro, 53, to succeed White. He will officially take the helm on Jan. 4.

The city of Long Beach, like so many Southern California communities, is no stranger to COVID.

Mayor Robert Garcia lost both his mother and stepfather to the deadly outbreak. He announced on July 13 that his mother, Gabriella O’Donnell, and his stepfather were in the hospital with the coronavirus and on ventilators.

The mayor’s mother, who immigrated with Garcia from Peru when he was 5 years old, died July 26. She was 61 years old. Garcia’s stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, passed away Monday, Aug. 10 — two weeks after the mayor lost his mother.

On Friday, the city’s public health department announced two more residents had died from coronavirus-related causes, bringing the city’s death toll to 245.

The city also reported 34 new coronavirus cases. There have been 11,761 cases identified in Long Beach since the pandemic began.

About 10,950 people — or 93% of those who have tested positive — have since recovered.

As of Friday, there were 45 Long Beach residents in hospitals with the virus.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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