PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As in-person classes will resume at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday, the return to the classroom is being met with a growing concern over COVID-19 cases.
University of Pittsburgh leaders say 78 students, faculty and staff members at the Oakland campus have tested positive for the virus in a 10-day period. Test results range from Aug. 27 to Sept. 7. Within that time period, 56 students and 22 faculty and staff members tested positive.
“I’m excited to be back,” said Morgan Berger, who is a senior. “I’m not too worried. I think if we keep the masks on inside, we’ll be fine.”
It’s Berger’s senior year, and she wants it to be the best one yet. She says the semester is going smoothly so far, as most follow health and safety protocols.
“Mainly all masks everywhere. Off campus, everyone has been pretty cautious too, keeping the distance. Maybe not masking outside, but I think we’re doing well,” said Berger.
Berger believes everyone will be OK, if the cases don’t increase. But other students like freshman Evan Walker have some concerns.
“I’ve read that some of the new variants are a bit more transmissible among people,” said Walker. “Even with vaccinated people, they have more mild symptoms, they could still spread though.”
The University’s Medical Response Office says most of the Pitt community is vaccinated, so the majority of cases are among vaccinated people, and many of the cases are mild.
Pitt reports that 83% of the community from all campuses have uploaded proof of vaccination against COVID-19. At the Oakland campus, around 80% of faculty and staff are vaccinated, with nearly 90% of undergraduate and graduate students vaccinated.
“I was proud to see that,” said Walker. “I know way earlier there were way less people vaccinated. But to see those numbers a little bit higher, it’s great to see.”
Despite the cases, Walker is happy to be on campus, interacting with his peers.
“I haven’t felt unsafe. I think Pitt is taking the proper precautions to make sure it’s safe for all their students,” said Walker.
University leaders are urging those who are not vaccinated to get the shot. In the meantime, students who are not vaccinated have to continue undergoing mandatory testing.
Mask-wearing is being encouraged for everyone both indoors and outdoors while on campus.
In-person classes will begin Monday, unless professors received permission for remote or hybrid instruction.
Pitt issued this statement:
“The virus is present on our campuses, but we are encouraged that the reports of vaccination continue to increase. As of last week, across all campuses, 83% of the Pitt community has now uploaded proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Among instructors, 94% who are scheduled to be in the classroom have reported that they are vaccinated.
“The goal of our COVID-19 mitigation measures is to keep our communities safe. This includes weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing for individuals who have not provided proof of vaccination, as well as face coverings in indoor setting on campus unless in a private space with the door closed. We recommend wearing a mask outdoors whenever possible, especially at large social gatherings where physical distancing is not possible.”