Orange Coast College had reported 21 positive or suspected positive cases of COVID-19 on campus, as of September 13.
According to OCC’s Director of Human Resources Rebecca Morgan, the college has had 21 employees and students self-report that either they are positive or suspected positive since they started tracking in mid-June.
Morgan said that of those 21 cases, eight employees tested positive, and five students tested positive. Eight of the suspected cases ended up testing negative.
“Our notification protocol is if employees are feeling sick or have been exposed to someone who tested positive, for instance, in their own personal lives, we ask them to either let their supervisor or the HR director [know],” Morgan said. “Students are normally telling faculty. They’ll do that in their live Zoom sessions. They’ll need to do that through Canvas. And then the faculty are telling their deans and their deans are contacting me and the director of Student Health.”
Earlier this month, the Voice of OC reported that an Orange County college had a coronavirus “outbreak,” but has yet to name the specific institution.
According Matthew Zahn, the medical director for the Communicable Disease Control Division of the Orange County Health Care Agency, the California Department of Public Health has not defined what an outbreak is in an educational setting.
“However, if two or more cases of COVID-19 are identified within 14 days in a classroom or other common work or social group such as in a dorm or cafeteria, then HCA would investigate that as a potential outbreak,” Zahn said in an email to Coast Report.
It is unclear if OCC has been investigated as the site of a potential outbreak.
Zahn also said that the OCHCA does not identify locations where investigations take place and that it is the responsibility of the college or university to post information about any potential cases or outbreaks.
Across the Coast Community College District there have been 33 employees who have reported positive or are suspected positive cases of COVID-19, according to an email obtained by Coast Report.
The email from District Chancellor John Weispfenning also stated that 24 students reported positive or suspected positive cases to the district. There have been zero deaths or reports of long-term disability as a result of COVID-19 cases in the district.
The initial email obtained by Coast Report was a special edition of the weekly newsletter sent by Weispfenning’s office to all faculty and staff, according to Erik Fallis, the district director of public affairs and marketing.
Fallis said the individual colleges are responsible for communicating information to students.
“The colleges tend to be responsible for communicating to the students,” he said. “I have seen communication go out to the students about COVID-19 from all three colleges. Some of it has similar information and most of them point to a health resource.”
Morgan said that OCC has not been mass emailing students because so few students have actually been on campus.
“We need to kind of start talking about what is our notification protocols and what it looks like for students now that we have more and more students on site,” Morgan said. “There’s not a lot but we’ll have student housing and things like that. We’ll continuously look at our process and our protocols and improve.”
For 18-year-old computer sciences major Aziz Abbasov, the report of positive cases doesn’t worry him.
“Actually, these numbers don’t really scare me because Orange County was doing really bad and not only our college – everywhere was closed. That’s when I was scared and I wasn’t really ready to go outside every day,” Abbasov said.
Abbasov said he sees the number of cases on campus as being minimal compared with the total cases in Orange County.
He also said he wasn’t too concerned with the lack of communication from the school.
“It will be better if they send emails. But on the other hand, I understand the college’s perspective. They probably didn’t want to make everyone worry about anything,” Abbsov said.