Midstate colleges and universities consider requiring masks after all

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — With vaccination rates slowing and the COVID-19 delta variant surging, local colleges and universities are rethinking preliminary plans to allow vaccinated students to go maskless this fall.

Penn State University, including its Midstate campuses? “The university is in the process of finalizing fall plans and will be sharing more information next week,” a PSU spokesperson told abc27 news.

Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster? “The college is now deliberating over whether to require masks based on the CDC guidelines but has not yet made a decision,” a spokesperson there said.

Central Penn College of Summerdale, meanwhile, continues to follow state guidance — no masks required for the vaccinated — which, keep in mind, now differs from CDC guidance. Central Penn operates on a quarterly rather than semester calendar; it’s in session now, and its next session will start in mid-September. By then, or sooner, plans could change.

Reaction from students was tough to gauge in person Friday — it’s a Friday in the summer, after all when few students are on campuses. But Hannah Starolis, a York College of Pennsylvania (YCP) student from Reading, walking near the campus, said she was unbothered — even if unenthusiastic — by a plan at that school that could indirectly require masks indoors this fall.

“I feel completely safe on campus, with or without the mask. Personally, I got the vaccine, and I feel completely fine with it,” Starolis said, adding that she’s also fine with the policy.

Specifically, YCP will require masks until 70% of its population is vaccinated. School officials couldn’t be reached Friday for data on where the figure stands — or whether they know the current figure — but the overall rate for college-age adults is far lower than that threshold.

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