Leaders at local universities and colleges are planning for a mostly traditional school year, complete with in-person learning and open activities — all while keeping an eye on covid-19.
As students prepare to return to campus, schools are gearing up for the third academic year of monitoring the coronavirus on campus.
When it comes to covid mitigation guidelines, “There’s no one size fits all,” said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.
“The universities have been doing a fantastic job,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, schools should consider recommending that masks be worn indoors, ensure that vaccinations and boosters are available for staff and immunocompromised individuals, and provide testing on campus.
Here are local universities’ planned mitigation protocols for the fall semester:
Vaccination status: Students and faculty must provide proof of vaccination and boosters to attend in-person classes.
Mask policy: Masks are optional for indoor spaces. Masks, however, are required at The Early Learning Center and Trinity Hall.
Remote learning: Fully remote and in-person instruction is offered.
Vaccination/booster availability: The university does not offer vaccinations and boosters on campus but recommends that individuals consult the Allegheny County Health Department.
Testing availability: Individuals who have religious and/or medical exemptions regarding vaccination will have mandatory weekly testing and must produce a negative result 72 hours after testing. Students who cannot accommodate this requirement will have to self-test weekly and are prohibited from using at-home kits to produce a negative result. Students who are vaccinated but display symptoms or have been in close contact with someone with covid are encouraged to contact the health department to be tested.
Carnegie Mellon University
Vaccination status: Students and faculty are required to be vaccinated and boosted before returning to campus.
Mask policy: Face coverings are encouraged on campus, but masking is not required unless visiting the Tartan Testing center.
Remote learning: In-person instruction will be “predominant,” and remote instruction will occur on a “limited basis.”
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccinations are offered through CMU’s Vaccine Clinics and Resources website.
Testing availability: Tartan Testing is available Monday through Thursday by appointment.
General covid-19 information for CMU can be found here.
Vaccination status: CStudents and faculty are required to be vaccinated and boosted.
Mask policy: Masks are optional on campus, but students are asked to wear a mask if they are identified as a close contact or if they are experiencing covid symptoms.
Remote learning: Online instruction is offered for select academic programs, but students are expected to attend classes in person.
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccine booster clinics will be offered in September and October.
Testing availability: Student Health Services offers covid testing for students displaying cold and flu-like symptoms or identified as a close contact of a positive covd case.
Vaccination status: Vaccinations are required for in-person learning and dorm living. Employees must be vaccinated except for those with a religious exemption.
Mask policy: Masking may be required in classrooms depending on each professor’s policies, but it is otherwise encouraged indoors and recommended to individuals who are unvaccinated because of religious, health or philosophical reasons.
Remote learning: Virtual classes are available to students who have contracted covid. Students also have the option to learn at home through Duquesne’s high flex classrooms, where half of the students learn in person and the other half attends class virtually.
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccinations are available on campus to employees and students.
Testing availability: Weekly testing clinics will be available to students and employees regardless of whether they have displayed symptoms. Employees who test positive are required to notify their supervisor and human resources.
Students can track covid on campus using the Duquesne covid dashboard.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Vaccination status: Covid vaccinations are not required for students or employees.
Mask policy: IUP follows CDC guidance for face coverings based on county transmission rates. Currently, masks are not required on campus, with the exception of the IUP Health Service, which requires face coverings to be worn by staff and visitors. Masks should be worn if an individual is exhibiting covid symptoms, was exposed to the virus or has received a positive test result. Free masks are available at most building entrances.
Remote learning: IUP will return to fully face-to-face instruction as well as in-person events and activities. Safety measures have limited the capacities in classrooms. Students should inform their professor of an expected absence because of covid. IUP offers “Distance Learning,” where part-time and full-time graduate and undergraduate students can attend classes virtually.
Vaccination/booster availability: Free vaccinations and boosters will be available through the IUP Health Service.
Testing availability: Testing will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday starting Aug. 22. Testing will be available on a “limited basis” until then. Appointments can be scheduled here. Those who receive a positive test will be offered isolation housing and care in Delaney Hall.
Penn State University
Vaccination status: Penn State does not require vaccinations but “strongly encourages” everyone to stay up to date with vaccinations and booster shots, as well as upload their vaccination status through myUHS.
Mask policy: The university “strongly recommends” face masks be worn indoors on campuses in counties that fall under the CDC’s “high” community level category. Masks will continue to be required in facilities providing health care and other locations required by law.
Remote learning: Similar to the spring, classes will remain in person, with the exception of those normally offered online or asynchronously.
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccination appointments for first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine, as well as boosters, will be available through University Health Services at Penn State’s University Park campus. Those attending commonwealth campuses should schedule appointments at local vaccine sites.
Testing availability: At the University Park campus, any student exhibiting covid symptoms should schedule a test with UHS. At-home tests are available to students at UHS and upon request at commons desks. Students are “strongly encouraged” to acquire their own at-home tests. At commonwealth campuses, masks and tests will be available at campus health centers and upon request at Housing and Food Services offices.
Of note: Before returning to campus, students should take a covid-19 test using a rapid at-home test. If it’s positive, the student should stay home for at least five days and test negative prior to coming back.
If a student tests positive at any time during the semester, on-campus quarantine space is limited, and if there’s no space available, students will have to go home to quarantine, according to the university. On-campus quarantine options won’t be provided for those living off campus.
Penn State said it will continue contact tracing.
Point Park University
Vaccination status: Covid vaccinations are not required but strongly encouraged.
Mask policy: Masking is optional on campus in all indoor space. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone with covid must wear a mask for 10 days. Covid-positive individuals must isolate and wear a mask, and anyone in quarantine or visiting the student health center must wear a mask.
Remote learning: Any student who is part of a high-risk health group or who has disabilities that prevent them from attending in person instruction will have access to accommodations for virtual learning.
Vaccination/booster availability: The university does not offer vaccines or boosters on campus.
Testing availability: If a student exhibits covid-19 symptoms, the Student Health Center will conduct tests only outside of the clinic. Tests cannot be conducted inside.
Note: If a student tests positive on campus, they are temporarily moved into a quarantine facility on campus where they are permitted to bring essential belongings from their dorm and required to wear a mask.
Slippery Rock University
Vaccination status: Slippery Rock never had a vaccination requirement, and that is still the case for this fall.
Mask policy: The masking requirement was lifted last academic year, and it will remain lifted. However, depending on CDC community levels, that is subject to change based on decisions made by Student Health Services and influenced by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Remote learning: Classes that are supposed to be in person will be held face to face and at full capacity.
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccines are not available at Slippery Rock’s Student Health Center. Students are encouraged to obtain them from local pharmacies.
Testing availability: Slippery Rock isn’t completing surveillance testing anymore, but if students want to be tested for covid, they’re able to receive a test at the Student Health Center. Testing is by appointment only, and the center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Of note: If a student tests positive, he or she will be asked to follow CDC guidelines and isolate for five days by going home. There are “some exceptions” to that, spokesman Justin Zackal said, but he did not elaborate. Case counts are being monitored but are not publicly available on Slippery Rock’s covid-19 dashboard, which the university stopped updating last academic year.
University of Pittsburgh
Vaccination status: Students and employees must submit proof of vaccination to register for classes and to return to teaching activities.
Mask policy: The university will be mask-optional when covid levels allow it, and it will require masking as per the recommended CDC guidelines.
Remote learning: Pitt will conduct its full schedule of normal activities and in-person classes.
Vaccination/booster availability: Vaccinations, boosters and tests at the university’s testing center will be available throughout the school year to students and employees who are symptomatic.
Testing availability: Students are required to take an at-home test before returning for classes. Continued mandatory testing will only apply to some of the unvaccinated population on campus. Individuals who have been in close contact with someone with covid should conduct at-home tests with kits that are available on campus. The university recommends students check the CDC community levels available on Pitt’s website, which is updated every Thursday and includes each of Pitt’s branch campus areas. Recent levels of covid-19 are also posted inside campus buildings and on coronavirus.pitt.edu.
Pennsylvania Western University
PennWest — which comprises California, Clarion and Edinboro — doesn’t have any mitigation plans set yet for the fall semester, said spokeswoman Wendy Mackall. University leaders and student representatives are set to meet soon to make decisions for the upcoming semester.