Lock Haven University recently completed an eight-week study to observe mask use on campus as part of the CDC’s Mask Adherence Surveillance at Colleges and Universities Project (MASCUP). More than 50 colleges and universities across the country participated in the study during the spring semester.
The LHU Health Science Club took the lead under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Rudella and Dr. Beth McMahon. Rudella is co-advisor for the club and McMahon serves as COVID coordinator for the university as part of the COVID-19 Institutional Response Team. The Psychology Club was under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Newburg.
“This has been an amazing experience collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control,” Rudella said. “They (CDC) have been very supportive throughout this entire process. The LHU students did a great job taking time out of their busy schedules to complete the required training, observations and data reporting. We make a great team!”
Fifteen Lock Haven University undergraduate students were trained by the CDC as data collectors to observe people on campus sites frequented by students.
Observers in the health science department included Jack Doyle, Nadia Romanchock, Andi Frano, Maria Ruiz, Gabriella Chyko, Jocelyn Schultz, McKenzi Etters, Katherine Tadros, Taylor Moritz, Julia Beck, Jordan Humes and Sierra McAfee. Psychology department observers were Hannah Baldwin, Pollyana Canete and Samantha Kauffman.
“Partnering with Lock Haven and over 50 other colleges and universities on this project has contributed to CDC’s effort to encourage mask use among young people,” said Dr. Margo Riggs, Centers for Disease Control liaison for institutions of higher education. “Wearing masks consistently and correctly is an important part of COVID-19 prevention and we appreciate the students’ involvement in this study.”
Riggs invited LHU’s research team to meet with the 19th director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky in May.
“It was a true honor to assist the CDC with evaluating mask use among our college campus,” Romanchock said. “I enjoyed working with my peers and professors to detect proper mask use and educate students on the impact proper mask use has on our society today. This opportunity provided me with new insight on the safety measures we have taken at Lock Haven University to further help the process of getting over this virus and returning to a normal life with school, friends and family.”
Tadros echoed her appreciation of being part of the study for the CDC. “As a pre-physician assistant major with a minor in public health and psychology, I can completely understand the mental toll that this pandemic has taken on many college students,” she said. “Lock Haven University has approached this public health crisis in a responsible way, making masks and social distancing mandatory.”
Results of the research study included a total of 1,439 people observed – 99 percent wore masks, 90 percent wore masks correctly and the most common type of mask was cloth (57 percent), followed by surgical (38 percent), followed by neck gaiter (3 percent). The group also identified the importance of continuing education on correct mask usage.
Humes said working on MASCUP was a rewarding experience and looks forward to take what she has learned from the research to PA school with her. “I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and MASCUP made me feel as though I was able to do my part in the fight against COVID-19,” she said. “As a future physician assistant, it is important to have knowledge regarding disease prevention and control, which I have gained first-hand from this project.”
“This study validates the commitment of LHU students in reducing the spread of COVID-19,” McMahon said. “Over 99 percent of students made the decision to wear a mask. This research has also highlighted the challenge of encouraging us all to wear a mask correctly.”
Lock Haven University’s COVID-19 dashboard provides ongoing updates. The university’s current active positively rate is 0 percent. LHU has tested close to 3,000 students, faculty and staff during the spring 2021 semester.
For more information on how to wear a mask correctly, visit the CDC how to wear masks webpage.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage.
For more resources on COVID-19 from Lock Haven University, visit the LHU COVID-19 dashboard page.
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Lock Haven University’s main campus is located on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in the scenic mountains of Pennsylvania. The university offers 49 undergraduate majors and certifications with 47 minors and five graduate programs.
LHU is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
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