York College the latest college campus to report COVID-19 cases

Signs block the entrances to York College, Thursday, March 19, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York College officials announced two people in the campus community had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday.

A news release on the school's website notes the cases are unrelated, and contact tracing has been conducted by the college's health services staff.

"Any close contacts have been notified," the release states, adding that a close contact is defined as someone who has been within 6 feet of the individual for more than 15 minutes.

Colleges across the state have seen outbreaks in the weeks since campuses reopened to students. Temple University in Philadelphia reported 125 active on-campus cases for students, and the University of Pittsburgh reported 50 students in isolation for active cases as of Monday.

Temple on Sunday decided to shut down campus to in-person classes for two weeks.

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More:Temple University announces 2-week halt of in-person classes

Bloomsburg University in Doylestown, Bucks County, already switched to fully remote learning after 167 cases, including one employee, had been reported since Aug. 14.

Several campuses have their own dashboards to monitor positive cases and testing, including Penn State University, which has conducted 6,632 coronavirus tests throughout its system.

The university system has had 73 positive cases since Aug. 7 — with no cases reported for Penn State York, which does not have a residential campus.

Monday's positive cases at York College are the first reported from the school since it reopened to students with a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning Aug. 24.

More:York College reopening this fall with hybrid learning model

More:Penn State campuses to open for in-person instruction this fall

University of North Carolina students wait outside of Woolen Gym on the Chapel Hill, N.C., campus as they wait to enter for a fitness class Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The University announced minutes before that all classes will be moved online starting Wednesday, Aug. 19 due to COVID clusters on campus. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

But college President Pamela Gunter-Smith addressed students in an announcement Aug. 21 on ways they were not being safe before the start of school.

"Yes, we are happy that you are back, but frankly I am very disappointed by the actions of those students who have chosen to or intend to disregard the policies and regulations we put in place to safeguard everyone," she said in the announcement.

Gunter-Smith was talking about large off-campus parties — particularly those held on Jackson Street, where many students have housing.

York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith

"The large off-campus gatherings must cease immediately," she said. "It is impossible to practice those guidelines intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 when you are gathering in large numbers at off-campus parties with no regard for social distancing."

Nonstudent community members on Jackson Street, campus employees, other students and parents are "alarmed" by this, she continued.

College officials will be investigating reports of these types of gatherings, and all students involved will be brought before the Student Conduct Board to face consequences, including being banned from campus and activities or even suspension for a semester, she added.

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For the cases that came to light Monday, the school's quarantine and isolation policy is in effect, according to a news release.

That policy states that those who test positive are put into isolation, meaning they must leave campus and stay at their permanent address for 10 days — starting the first day after symptoms began — or until they are cleared to return by their health care provider.

Students who cannot travel home because of extenuating circumstances will be temporarily housed on campus and not permitted in other buildings.

Those who are deemed to have been in close contact with those who tested positive must quarantine from others for 14 days, also by returning  to their permanent address.

Isolated individuals cannot return to campus unless they have two negative tests. Those quarantining must monitor for symptoms twice a day, and if any emerge, they must contact the college's health center immediately.