Rita Offutt, Editor
On Sunday, Sept. 5, interim university president Tim O’Shaughnessy authored an email to the La Salle community announcing that the university would transition to remote learning for the week of Tuesday, Sept. 7 to Friday, Sept. 10. O’Shaughnessy said, “this is a very difficult decision to make…your health and safety was the most important factor we considered.”
On Sept. 10, university officials met with student leaders to discuss the reason for moving online. Students in attendance represented the Collegian, Greek life, La Salle Ambassadors, the Student Government Association, Resident Student Association and several other organizations. O’Shaughnessy explained the circumstances leading up to the announcement, stating that when he left La Salle on Sept. 3 he was aware of four active cases of COVID-19 on campus and by the end of the day more than 30 cases had been reported. From these 30 cases, more than 800 students had been exposed to possible contact.
Scott Cook, the Vice President of Student Wellness, explained that the university decided to move online in order to gather information about how many cases were active and where transmission was stemming from. All but two cases were the result of social exposures. Cook also encouraged students not to compare La Salle’s decision with those of other Philadelphia schools, who may be larger and have integrated hospital systems. Cook advised students to take all symptoms seriously and get tested regularly if symptoms arise. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, sore throat and congestion. Symptoms can occur anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure.
La Salle returned to in-person learning on Monday, Sept. 13. In an email announcing the return to in-person, O’Shaughnessy said, “We have determined the spread is not only traceable, but manageable—particularly when considering our community’s high vaccination rate. We are confident it is safe to return to in-person learning. While I am pleased to share this news, this week serves as a reminder of our semester’s fragility. Even with a strong vaccination rate and the extensive health protocols that are in place, we remain vulnerable to this virus… The systems we have in place, all aimed at mitigating COVID-19’s spread, work best when we follow them. Please mask up, maintain social distancing, report when you are experiencing symptoms, and stay home if you are sick.”
As of Sept. 14, 86 percent of La Salle’s campus is fully vaccinated, and an additional 5.6 percent is partially vaccinated. Since Aug. 27, 109 cases have occurred on campus, impacting 70 residential students, 38 non-residential students, and one employee. Students experiencing symptoms or who have received should complete La Salle’s COVID-19 disclosure form.