COVID spike pushes EU online, campus then returns March 8

Category:  News
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 at 8:42 PM

Edinboro put in-class learning and activities on pause for 10 days following a spike in COVID-19 cases. The pause, which lasted from Feb. 26 to March 8, came after 66 students and 3 employees tested positive during the week of Feb. 22-28. Edinboro lifted the pause on March 8.

Previously, the university was averaging only 2.5 total COVID cases per week in 2021, according to EU’s tracker.

According to Jim Dahle, EU's director of safety and risk management, it was decided that the pause would be 10 days because that's "generally the minimum period for individuals in quarantine and isolation.” Also, he said it allowed "the university to fully assess the impact of the COVID-19 spike and to restart at the beginning of a week.”

Dahle, in order to maintain the confidentiality of the students who may have contracted the virus, is unable to release information regarding where the cases seemed to be stemming from. But an email from Edinboro University Interim President Dr. Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson stated “our contact tracing has not revealed any evidence of transmission from in-person instruction; however the decision to impose a 10-day pause for in-person classes would be out of an abundance of caution for our students and faculty.”

The following activities and programs were impacted by the 10-day pause, according to an email sent out by Pehrsson on Feb. 26:

Dining services: All seating areas were closed, but dining halls were open for grab-and-go during regular dining hours.
Library services: The library was closed, and its services were only accessible through the myEdinboro Portal.
Art studios and labs: Studios and labs were closed.
Student teachers and nursing students in clinicals: These students were to follow the guidelines of their respective school districts or field placements if they had not tested positive (or were in quarantine) for the virus.
Face-to-face classes: These classes were pushed online for the entirety of the 10-day pause.
Extracurricular meetings: All club meetings were to be held virtually.

One of the causes Dahle expects to be behind the increase in COVID-19 cases has been the lax following of university health and safety guidelines. He’s seen students fail to do the following at times: “wear a mask, social distance and avoid large gatherings.” 

In regard to large gatherings off campus, the university may not be able to directly intervene with such situations, but they will continue to educate those on campus and in the broader community about the risks that accompany such groups. Dahle said: “we will continue to educate students about the importance of adhering to CDC, county health department and PA Department of Health guidelines for the safety of the campus and broader community. We are counting on everyone doing their part to protect their own safety and that of others.”

In the following weeks, there was 16 confirmed student cases from March 1-7 and five cases so far for the week of March 8-14.

Overall, if students wish campus activities and classes to remain open in the foreseeable future, Dahle advises everyone to “adhere to health and safety guidelines.”

Hazel Modlin is the Executive Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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