UC Santa Cruz moved classes to emergency remote or online instruction Monday and Tuesday after the recent storms created dangerous conditions across the county and led to power outages for some living on campus.
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Update: Power has been restored and in-person classes are set to resume Wednesday. Read the latest here.
UC Santa Cruz moved classes to emergency remote or online instruction on Monday and Tuesday after the recent storms created dangerous conditions across Santa Cruz County and led to power outages for some living on campus.
“We continue to encourage our campus community to limit nonessential travel,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive wrote in a message to campus. “We are monitoring the weather situation closely and will update the campus by 3 p.m. Tuesday about whether limited emergency remote instruction will continue into Wednesday.”
However, for the campus community living in several areas near the university, remote instruction will be nearly impossible. Family Student Housing lost power around 5 a.m. Monday morning due to the storm, with UCSC telling students it could take a few days to be restored. Pacific Gas & Electric said 420 customers were affected in the area near campus.
In the campus message, Larive said there were wires lying on the roadway at High Street and Tosca Terrace and asked that people avoid the area and shelter in place.
For Family Student Housing resident Lucia Alvarado Cantero, there was no other option but to stay in place. Alvarado Cantero, her partner, Gustavo, and their 20-month-old son, Alberto, are all sick with COVID.
Alberto first showed symptoms Wednesday and then they all became symptomatic — despite having their vaccines. Alvarado Cantero said it was scary at one point, when they all had significant body aches, coughs and fevers. Her son’s fever peaked at 103 degrees. They’re feeling better but still symptomatic and therefore have to keep quarantining, despite the power outage at their home.
“We’re basically trapped,” said Alvarado Cantero.
Without power, they have no heat, no hot water and are trying to reduce how many times they open their refrigerator to maintain the cold temperature inside the fridge preserving the little food they have. They ordered delivery from a restaurant but a DoorDash driver told them High Street was closed so they couldn’t make the delivery.
She also had to cancel her two meetings scheduled for Monday.
“I haven’t been able to work at all, or go to meetings or do anything because I have to care for my son who has COVID,” she said.
If they didn’t have COVID they could go stay at a friend’s house or go to Porter College to charge their devices and get food — but they can’t because they’re still symptomatic.
“It is overwhelming. I don’t know what else to say,” said Alvarado Cantero. “I’m just hoping that it’s over soon.”
In the meantime, she and Gustavo are making sure their son, who has a bad cough from COVID, stays warm. They’re all wearing extra layers of clothing, scarves and beanies. For light, they use a flashlight.
Since Wednesday, Alvarado Cantero and Gustavo have been carrying around a container of COVID supplies from room to room with Tylenol, Motrin, a vaporizer, a nasal aspirator and a thermometer.
Despite the challenges, she said the Family Student Housing community has been supportive. Neighbors have walked her dog and a friend brought them groceries. But looking outside, she said the residential area is silent.
“It is unbelievably quiet,” she said.
Late Monday, Alvarado Cantero received some bittersweet news.
UCSC told Family Student Housing residents that PG&E didn’t expect to have power restored for a few days. But the university offered to reimburse rent credit for the total cost of a hotel stay up to $250 per night. The university also offered them two free meals per resident per day at Porter Dining Hall.
“We can’t take the chance of sleeping with no heater with Alberto sick,” said Alvarado Cantero, adding that they would stay at a hotel Monday night.
The university still has a range of services being offered, some remote and some in-person. The Division of Student Affairs and Success is operating all services remotely, including the Student Health Center, which Alvarado Cantero used for help for her son. A nurse told them they should continue treating the symptoms as they had been and they would be fine.
Several dining halls, including Crown and Merrill, closed early at 2 p.m. Monday because of the storms’ impacts on staff. However, dining halls at College Nine/John R. Lewis, Cowell/Stevenson, and Porter/Kresge were scheduled to be open through dinner, according to a campus message.
In addition to Family Student Housing, Early Education Services was also without power. The university said the other residential areas have power.
Further information on impacts to instruction and services at the university is available here.