CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – It won’t be long until school is back in session at Penn State University. Which means thousands of students from around the globe will be returning to campus. But with recent studies showing the new COVID-19 delta variant to pose a major threat to the US, many fear for the safety of not only themselves, but their classmates and community.
“While students make up a large part of the population during the school year, there’s a large State College community that’s there, that lives there as their permanent residence, and it’s an older population as well that’s very high at risk,” said Student Body President Erin Boas.
To ensure everyone’s protection, Penn State University Park’s Undergraduate Association sent a letter to the Board of Trustees requesting that they require all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Classes start in just three weeks, so the request is pretty urgent,” stressed Boas.
Along with the vaccination mandate, Boas says they also requested testing sites, isolation quarters and on-site vaccination clinics be made available.
“Especially with football tickets just being released and a lot of different student engagement, which is so important to the college experience, a lot of the student engagement experiences are projected to be back in person,” said Boas.
Vice President Najee Rodriquez says he worries about some students access to healthcare.
“I know that’s an obstacle that a lot of people don’t really consider. Which is why it’s so important to ensure there is that overarching mandate that’s put on students, faculty, and staff. Not only to protect themselves but to protect others that might have faulty insurance, or might not have any at all,” said Rodriquez.
According to Rodriquez over 600 universities across the nation have already implemented COVID-19 vaccination requirements, including most of the Big Ten Universities.
“We now want to make sure Penn State also follows suit,” said Boas.
If their requests can’t be made, Boas says the second best thing the university can do, is be transparent.
“Something that really needs to be released is the current data of how many students, faculty and staff are vaccinated. I know they’ve been collecting that through surveys as well as the myUHS portal. Currently we don’t have hard data broadcasted out which I think is causing a lot of uneasiness among students and faculty and staff as well,” said Boas.
Since their letter, President Barron has announced a town hall meeting to be held at 4 p.m. on Aug. 3, to discuss their COVID-19 response.
Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather and community events that matter to you.