HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Penn State is now requiring students, faculty, and staff who are not vaccinated to undergo mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing. The policy applies to University Park, Commonwealth Campuses, and Dickinson Law.
“I am just happy that they didn’t make the vaccine mandatory on campus so I am able to go to school and finish out my degree,” AJ Devitt said.
Devitt is in his senior year at Penn State’s Main Campus, studying political science. Devitt will be one of the thousands of unvaccinated students now required to do mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.
“This is America. People are allowed to make their own individual decisions, especially when it comes to medical decisions. If they want to test me 30 times, I will show up 31 just to retain that freedom,” Devitt said.
Get daily news, weather, and breaking news all to your inbox! Sign up for abc27 newsletters here!
Students who fail to get tested will be disciplined. Consequences range from a warning, being placed under a registration hold, or possible suspension. Students who fail to get tested will also not be allowed to attend football games.
Teachers and staff can be placed on unpaid leave and eventually terminated if they miss multiple tests.
How many students are not vaccinated?
According to a Penn State spokesperson, the University sent out 42,605 vaccination surveys to University Park students last fall. It received 30,176 responses, with 88% claiming they were partially or fully vaccinated, leaving 3,621 students who are not vaccinated.
“To target unvaccinated students is a little ridiculous given that anybody can carry COVID, especially with the new variants going around. The vaccine wasn’t made to protect against those variants and if these variants are as dangerous as they are saying all students should be tested. These people could still have COVID and they can still carry COVID and spread it across campus,” Devitt said.
According to the CDC, If you are fully vaccinated and become infected with the Delta variant, you can spread the virus to others and those who are fully vaccinated should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested. If they test positive, they should isolate at home for 10 days.
Penn State University will be administering thousands of tests each week and will foot the bill. The university did not say how much those tests will cost.
Students and employees who provide proof of vaccination can enter weekly drawings, which include a $1,000 payment, a $100 gift card to Barnes and Noble, or a football signed by Penn State head football coach James Franklin. Drawings for the vaccine incentive program will be open until Aug. 23.
As for Devitt, he will not be entering the university’s vaccine incentive program.
“I will do the testing. I will do it as many times as they want, but if they make that vaccine mandatory that will be the end of my time at Penn State,” Devitt said.