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Philly college COVID surge: Lack of action heading into break

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It’s starting to look a lot like last Christmas, with the number of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia rising every week. At nearly every major campus in Philly, cases are raised according to city trends.

At the beginning of December, many colleges were slow to update safety guidelines. It is a critical time, when students head to the many gathering places – final exams, group study sessions, holiday parties, fraternity and sorority formations. But in the face of the potential rise fueled by the Omicron variable, higher education institutions are beginning to respond.

Penn banned indoor parties, and the final week of final exams were moved online. UArts will require spring booster shots. Drexel has announced the start of the entire winter remotely, along with some spring semester programs.

Some schools don’t explain their stance on COVID-19 at all. In USciences, for example, there appears to be no way for students, faculty, and community members to track positivity rates on campus. At nearly all Philly colleges, navigating the tangle of testing and isolation protocols is challenging. You have to switch between several pages to get an accurate picture, keeping the case count separate from the latest rules on masking and immunization and from information in the supporting clinics.

Curious to know if a particular kidney has a slight increase in cases – and how is it treated? Below is a summary of the plans.

Note: This guide has been compiled using information collected via university spokespersons, websites, and other available documents. We will keep it updated as new information becomes available. Do you have a tip or question? Send us an email.

what is happening now: After a sudden rise in COVID-19 cases on campus in early December, the university banned all indoor social gatherings on campus starting from December 9. This applies to parties and year-end forms, but not indoor study or dining sessions. The college announced Wednesday that final exams will be held online from December 20, and professors will have the option to switch to virtual exams immediately.

Pennsylvania students are still required to take a screening test every two weeks and fill out a daily symptom check to monitor cases, although students have had problems maintaining compliance with these requirements. Students who test positive for the virus are required to self-quarantine for 14 days and “will not be able to attend in-person exams or travel” if they test positive within the next few days, chief health officer Benoit Dube told the Daily Pennsylvanian.

What is the plan for the next semester:
Penn will not order COVID-19 booster footage for the upcoming semester, but the school is hosting a multi-day booster clinic for members of the university community (students, faculty, and staff) from December 15-18.

what is happening now: According to the Temple COVID-19 dashboard, the university saw a spike in cases on November 30 that followed city trends. However, Temple has yet to announce changes in health and safety policies for the final exam period.

β€œWith more than 97% of our community fully vaccinated, we were fortunate that the number of cases has remained relatively low,” Stephen Urban, associate director of problem management, told Billy Benn.

What is the plan for the next semester: Urbank said the university has not yet announced an official COVID protocol for the spring semester, but that it will continue to follow the city’s approach. Current plans call for an expansion of in-person classes starting in January. Temple began providing reinforcements to students and staff in October and hosted temporary clinics in November.

what is happening now: At the beginning of this month, the university announced that cases on campus had tripled between November 28 and December 5. Officials reiterated that students should follow what is already there: wear a mask indoors, comply with contact tracing, and get tested weekly.

What is the plan for the next semester: The university announced December 17 that the winter quarter at Drexel will begin in remote mode, with some medical programs also shifting to distance learning. The announcement also hinted at an upcoming demand for strengthening of faculty, staff and students. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are available through the Student Health Clinic.

what is happening now: On the main Community College of Philadelphia campus on Spring Garden Street, cases remained relatively low, even as students returned from Thanksgiving, with no positive results reported as of December 3 and 4. To the campus safety plan as the final weeks of exams and classes approach.

What is the plan for the next semester: CCP has not yet announced plans for the spring semester, which begins January 18.

what is happening now: Joe’s COVID-19 dashboard, the number of cases has been hovering around 10 or fewer per week among students and staff. With final exams ending on December 18, the university has made no plans to modify existing testing or behavior policies for COVID-19.

What is the plan for the next semester: St. Jose has not yet announced its plans for the spring semester, which begins on January 18.

what is happening now: USciences does not appear to have a publicly available dashboard that tracks cases and tests on campus, although students are tasked with vaccinating and filling out a screening form if they are exposed to the virus or test positive β€” at least according to the “COVID-19 Return to Campus Guidelines.” With the fall semester ending on December 17, the university has not updated its policies to reflect the rising number of cases in Philadelphia.

What is the plan for the next semester: USciences has yet to announce its plans for the spring semester, which begins January 17.

what is happening now: Throughout the fall semester, Center City University has been requiring unvaccinated students to take a COVID test twice weekly. Campus positivity rates are rising in line with city trends, jumping from 0% on November 26 to 3.8% as of December 12. Winter break begins on December 18th.

What is the plan for the next semester: Booster footage is now required by January 24, the start of the spring semester for anyone eligible, UArts President and CEO David Yager announced in a December 13 email to students, faculty, and staff. Eligible only after lessons start? You must have a booster dose within 30 days of that date.

what is happening now: On the Jefferson East Falls campus and downtown, the number of COVID-19 cases remains low, hovering just under 1%, according to the university’s dashboard. Surveillance testing will run through the finals on December 15, according to senior director of media relations Angela Schuyle, with the school testing random samples of vaccinated and unvaccinated students to monitor infection levels.

What is the plan for the next semester: As of now, Jefferson will keep the same basic protocols in place for Spring: monitoring testing, required cloaking, and finite internal events.

β€œAs evidenced by our high vaccination rate and low case rate this semester with no evidence of semester spread, we plan to continue this path moving forward” but will reassess in accordance with Philadelphia’s changing recommendations, Schuyle said.

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