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Penn State is requiring students to wear masks indoors. Photo: Facebook.
Penn State is requiring students to wear masks indoors. Photo: Facebook.

Penn State University to require masks across all campuses

The university is not requiring vaccinations, but is urging students and faculty to get the jab as soon as they can.

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Penn State University announced on Wednesday, Aug. 4, that students, staff members, and visitors will be required to wear masks while indoors at all campuses no matter their vaccination status.

The university is hoping to curb COVID-19’s spread to protect the lives of students and staff.

University President, Eric Barron said the mandatory masking is a major step in the right direction as students head back to in-person learning and college campuses.

“As we continue to see daily increases in COVID-19 cases, particularly the Delta variant, our current outlook warrants this protective step,” Barron said in a written statement. “I continue to look forward to a return to robust, in-person experiences, and hope this is a reassuring adjustment for students, faculty and staff.”

Those not vaccinated by Aug. 9 will have to get a series of COVID-19 testing done during the Fall semester. Masks are to be worn in classrooms, hallways, and at indoor sporting events.

The written statement also said that within the last 24 hours, many counties that are home to Penn State campuses have shifted to “orange” status, meaning a substantial amount of cases have been recorded.

“We are taking this proactive step as one critical measure to support the well-being of our community, along with initiatives like the comprehensive testing strategy for students and employees we announced yesterday,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of the COVID-19 Operations Control Center.

Penn State campuses are located in Pennsylvania counties experiencing a rise in covid cases.

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise, other flagship state universities, such as Michigan State, Illinois State, Northwestern University, and Rutgers University are making it mandatory for students to receive vaccines before they step on campus.

Although Barron is not mandating vaccines, he is urging students and faculty who have not gotten the jab, to get it as soon as they can.

Students can begin the vaccination process at home and can record it on their vaccination card. The university will provide resources for students to get their second vaccine dose.

“To have a successful semester, it’s going to take all of us doing our parts to support the well-being of our entire community,” Barron said.

The news comes after cases of COVID-19’s Delta variant cases continue to surge across the country. According to the CDC, there have been 1,230,454 positive COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania since the start of the pandemic. 

On Thursday, Pennsylvania saw 1,211 cases in one day.

As of July 29, 344.1 million vaccine doses have been administered across the U.S. About 57.2% of the total U.S. population have received at least one dose of vaccine and 49.4% are fully vaccinated.

Penn State has 24 campuses across Pennsylvania, holding about 98,783 students. They also employ 31,027 full-time employees university-wide. To decrease the number of Delta variant cases, students will have to mask up.

“We continue to stress the importance for all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” said Wolgast. ”Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself from serious illness leading to hospitalization and death.”

Penn State will begin its Fall semester in-person classes on Aug. 23, 2021.

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