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Masks required at Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology this fall

Citing the accelerated spread of the now dominant Delta variant, the Pennsylvania College of Technology and Lycoming College have both changed their masking protocols and will now require all students, faculty, staff and visitors to be masked, regardless of vaccination status.

At Penn College, the new protocols were announced Aug. 5 and went into effect Aug. 9. Fall classes begin at the college on Aug. 16.

Masking is not required outdoors for anyone on Penn College’s campus.

Penn College has established two status designations for masking on campus, according to Joseph Yoder, associate vice president for public relations & marketing at the college.

Status A. requires masks indoors for all students, employees and visitors regardless of vaccination status.

Status B. states that masking is optional for students and employees who have provided COVID-19 vaccination documentation to the college. For all others, masking is required indoors.

The current status can be found on the college’s Continuity of Operations Plan website. As of Aug. 9, the campus was in Status A.

“The masking protocols will be re-evaluated every two weeks, beginning Aug. 27, based on a variety of metrics including new COVID-19 case numbers, vaccination percentages for students and employees, test positivity rates, and the level of virus spread in Lycoming County and Pennsylvania,” according to information from the college.

“The reason for the change in masking protocols is that Pennsylvania is experiencing accelerated spread of the now dominant Delta variant – by far the most contagious form of the virus to date – with nearly two-thirds of the state’s 67 counties deemed to be at substantial or high levels of transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lycoming County is one of those counties,” Yoder stated.

Penn College has no plans at this time to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students.

According to an update sent to students from Dr. Kent Trachte, Lycoming’s president, “All members of the community will be expected to wear masks indoors in public settings. This protocol means that everyone will begin the semester wearing masks during class. While more detail will be provided, you should be prepared with a supply of masks.”

“In addition to classrooms, public indoor spaces where masks will be required include common areas of residence halls, Wertz Student Center, Keiper Recreation Center among others,” Trachte stated.

The decision at Lycoming was made following a convening of the COVID Response/Advisory Group at the beginning of the month.

Following that meeting, Trachte communicated the college’s concerns to students set to arrive back for the fall semester.

“We are concerned that the COVID situation in the United States has worsened during the past few weeks, and that the Delta variant is spreading more rapidly, particularly in regions with low vaccination rates. We also recognize that students will be arriving from many different states and regions. Finally, we have seen an uptick in cases in Lycoming County during the past few days,” he said.

Other protocols for Lycoming require all students to check in upon arrival to campus. A COVID antigen test will be administered at the time of arrival. Students who submit evidence of vaccination or a diagnosed COVID infection during the past 90 days will be exempted from the test.

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