Lock Haven University has announced that, effective tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 2), the university will transition to 100% remote instruction for approximately a two-week period due to an elevated number of positive COVID-19 cases.
The fall 2020 semester officially began last Monday and did so with 85% of classes already taking place remotely, and with on campus residency at two-thirds normal capacity.
Students will have the option to return home for this time or remain in their campus residence halls. The university will facilitate both quarantine and isolation for students living on campus who have either been in contact with an individual who has tested positive or have themselves tested positive.
As outlined at the start of LHU’s voluntary asymptomatic testing program, a 5.0% positivity rate is the measure by which the university would reevaluate its ability to provide a safe on-campus learning environment. As of yesterday afternoon, the positivity rate on campus reached 4.0% and this morning, the positivity rate stood at 4.9%.
Dr. Robert Pignatello, LHU President, acknowledged that the semester carefully planned for is in jeopardy. “Our initial test results were encouraging. But, as a result of contact tracing and case investigation efforts our testing was ramped up last Friday,” Pignatello said. “This situation should demonstrate to everyone the insidious nature of COVID-19, its infectivity, and the critical nature of individual personal responsibility. Our proactive asymptomatic testing program worked by giving us critical information so as to break the chain of infection. Experts say 40% of infection transmission is from individuals with no symptoms. We have determined that off campus gatherings in confined areas where social distancing and mask wearing were not practiced is the culprit here.”
As this became more apparent last week, a stricter visitor and guest policy begun last week will remain in effect for this two-week period, meaning no guests or visitors are permitted in either on-campus housing or at Evergreen Commons, and additional asymptomatic testing was conducted Friday and Monday.
Before face-to-face classes can resume on Monday, Sept. 21 there will be reentry COVID-19 testing available to all students living on or off campus and/or taking face-to-face classes and to employees. The voluntary testing will be done Sept. 16-17 and results processed before Monday.
LHU faculty are prepared to convert to remote instruction as this possibility was outlined as part of the university’s original contingency plan. Bentley dining hall will transition to grab-and-go only for all meals and there will be no sit-down dining. The library will remain open for pick-up only. All other campus facilities, including the student recreation center, will be closed for the two-week period
With the two-week suspension of face-to-face classes, LHU’s intention is to stop any further spread, allow those infected to isolate and recover, and set up for a safe return and continuation to the semester’s activities.
“I urge everyone to recognize our collective vulnerability to this virus and our individual roles in keeping the campus safe greater community safe. We must do better,” added Pignatello.
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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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