Pennsylvania acting secretary of education Noe Ortega has urged colleges to delay the start of their spring semesters to February, as some colleges are already doing.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and these trends are expected to worsen in January at the time when students normally return to campus,” she said. “Colleges and universities play a critical role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and creating safe learning environments for students. By delaying students’ return to campus, our institutions of higher learning can help slow the spread of the virus, help businesses to remain open, and protect regional health care systems.”
A press release from the state’s Department of Education said that “the number of cases among 19 to 24-year-olds in northcentral Pennsylvania spiked from 7 percent in April, when students were not on campus, to 69 percent in September, and in the northeast from 6 percent in April to 40 percent in September. Campuses are urged to evaluate their policies and circumstances and ensure the safety of their on-campus population while also promoting strong mitigation measures for off-campus students.”