Local universities speak out about controlling COVID-19 for the start of the Spring semester

Coronavirus

College students are making their way back to local university campuses to begin the Spring semester.

Local schools said that they’ve learned a lot from the Fall when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19.

We spoke to local universities about the protocols that are now in place.

COVID-19 tests are a common denominator when it comes to safely welcoming back everyone to campus.

Classes are now underway at two universities in the City of Erie. Testing negative for COVID-19 is the ticket needed to bring people back to both Gannon and Mercyhurst University.

“We are now doing retesting of all the students who have come back to live on campus and depending on the results of those tests, those students if they test positive will have to quarantine at our North East campus and then we will do spot checking about 10% of our population,” said Michael Victor, President of Mercyhurst University.

Penn State Behrend and Allegheny College will bring students back in February also require a negative test from students in order to return to campus.

Here is what the universities are planning for those on campus once the vaccine becomes available to all.

“We will not be requiring it. We will encourage everyone to get it, but we are working out details on how and when that will be available to our students,” said Doug Oathout, Director of Marketing and Communications at Gannon University.

“That is still in policy discussion right now. We are certainly encouraging folks to get the vaccine as they are able to do so,” said Ken Miller, Senior Director of Penn State Behrend.

“Availability of the vaccine is also limited, particularly to our undergraduate population that it wouldn’t be reasonable to require students to have it to return. We’re discussing the issue and will visit it again about Fall semester, but certainly for Spring semester it is not going to be a required vaccine for our students,” said April Thompson, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students at Allegheny College.

“I suspect when the vaccines are pretty widespread that will be a requirement. Stay tuned,” said Victor.

Each University explained that students who did get the vaccine already mainly work in the health field.

Edinboro University said that the number of students on campus for this semester is limited.

The university only slightly increased the number of in-person classes.

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