Editor’s note: All data regarding Coronavirus case numbers was collected on April 8 at 10:30 a.m. For the most up-to-date case numbers, visit SRU’s COVID-19 dashboard or access a university’s dashboard using its website.
As it nears the end of the spring 2021 semester, the 14 universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) have totaled nearly 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases so far this semester as schools begin to announce their plans for the fall.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, PASSHE universities have kept track of positive student and faculty COVID-19 cases and testing regulations on their respective COVID-19 dashboards. The cumulative case numbers across the state system have been cut in half, compared to last semester’s 2,031 cases in November 2020.
In contrast with the total COVID-19 cases in the state of Pennsylvania, the 990 cases represented throughout the PASSHE system are only 0.09% of the over 1 million statewide cases reported over the last year. Additionally, Butler County case numbers are on a decline, with roughly 415 new cases within the past week.
Fall 2021 semester plans
The state system universities are preparing for the upcoming semester with differing regulations, ranging from fully in-person classes and events to 80% of courses being in-person. But, the sister universities agree that the fall plans are subject to change and will make adjustments to protocols as needed.
Nine of the 14 PASSHE universities are planning to be fully in-person in the fall, with safety measures still in place. The schools going with a more in-person approach include Bloomsburg, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield and West Chester Universities.
Bloomsburg will return in the fall with the traditional form of instruction because of the anticipated vaccine rates, the current projections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the easing of restrictions in the Commonwealth, according to its fall 2021 announcement to its community.
With some health and wellness protocols remaining in place, Kutztown University will offer classes in a primarily face-to-face environment for the fall. KU hopes to reflect a more traditional on-campus environment with its course offerings and residential experience. The PASSHE university strongly encourages members of the campus community to get vaccinated prior to return, according to its press release from March 8.
California University plans to “level-up” and return to full on-campus operations in the upcoming semester, Interim President Robert Thorn said in the university’s announcement of their fall 2021 plans. The PASSHE school operates on a multi-level plan, with its goal being returning to level one in the fall. However, the university will continue operating at level three until then.
Millersville and Slippery Rock Universities will offer more face-to-face courses with roughly 80% in-person instruction. Slippery Rock projects having more than 2,300 residents living on campus next semester, with in-person dining and in-person co-curricular activities resuming.
Cheyney and Shippensburg Universities have not released plans for next semester as of press time.
As of Thursday morning, there were a total of 990 cases reported between all 14 PASSHE universities. The state system has accumulated less than half the cases than around this time last semester, with a total of 2,031 cases in November 2020.
Bloomsburg University has the highest number of cases in the state system with a total of 120, with student and faculty case numbers combined, or about 12.1% of all cases.
With 118 cases reported (or about 11.9% of the state system’s total cases), Shippensburg has the second-highest case number in the system as of Thursday morning. Edinboro University has reported 116 cases (11.7%), Millersville reported 109 cases (11%), and Slippery Rock has 108 (10.9%).
Kutztown has reported 102 cases, accounting for 10.3% of the total. KU specifies whether student case numbers are on- or off-campus, with 27 positive cases coming from on-campus residents and 50 positive cases coming from off-campus students. The remaining 25 are employee cases.
These six universities totaled 673, accounting for 68% of the cases represented throughout PASSHE.
Indiana’s numbers are less than the larger six, with 90 cases and accounting for 9.1% of the total. While California has 79 (8%) reported cases, Clarion (57), East Stroudsburg (56) and Mansfield (20) have each reported less than 60 cases and collectively contribute to about 13.4% of all state system cases.
Lock Haven University has reported eight (0.8%) active cases on its COVID-19 dashboard as of March 26. With a total of 1,993 asymptomatic and symptomatic tests performed on campus since Feb. 4, the university maintains a 0.4% active positivity rate and a 1.4% total positivity rate.
While its website is updated once a week on Tuesdays, West Chester University has reported five new confirmed cases from March 29 to April 4. The COVID-19 dashboard doesn’t record cumulative case numbers for the semester.
With one employee and one student case reported this semester, Cheyney University accounts for only 0.2% of the state system’s total case numbers.
Case numbers since August 2020
As it surpasses a year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, some PASSHE universities keep a record of case numbers on campus since August 2020.
Nine of the 14 PASSHE schools have a cumulative count of case numbers on their COVID-19 dashboards. This includes Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, Edinboro, Kutztown, Mansfield, Millersville and West Chester Universities. Six of the nine sister universities show reported case numbers over winter break from December 2020 to January 2021. Edinboro, Kutztown and West Chester have no reported cases during those months.
Based on the case numbers visible on its dashboard, Kutztown University has the highest accumulated case numbers in the state system with 542 student and faculty cases. The PASSHE school also differentiates between on- and off-campus cases, with 188 on-campus positive student cases and 300 off-campus. The remaining 54 are reported employee cases.
Bloomsburg is the second-highest at 505 total cases, combining student and faculty numbers. BU’s dashboard is updated on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, according to its webpage.
Following the two largest numbers is Millersville University. MU stands at 259 total cases since August 2020. On its COVID-19 dashboard, the university explains that there were 150 cases from Aug. 12, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 and 109 cumulative cases this semester so far.
Edinboro University has reported 158 since August 2020, while Clarion (141) and California (107) Universities have slightly fewer cases numbers. Edinboro is the only one of the three that don’t display case numbers for December 2020 to the beginning of January 2021. EU case numbers resume on the week of Jan. 11, according to its dashboard.
West Chester (89), Mansfield (64) and Cheyney (11) Universities have reported the least number of cases compared to the other five PASSHE universities since August 2020. While Cheyney’s COVID-19 dashboard specifies winter break case numbers, West Chester University only displays its cases since Aug. 17.
With the totals shown on the PASSHE universities’ respective COVID-19 dashboards, there was a total of 1,876 cases system-wide since August 2020. This number does not include the case numbers that aren’t posted to COVID-19 dashboards.