How PSU Students Leaving will Impact the Community

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Photo/Arlo Nicholas

The sun sets on Old Main as Penn State students prepare to leave for Thanksgiving this Nov. 22. Penn State has been a major cause of COVID in the community and the student’s departure could help bring cases down.

Arlo Nicholas(he/him/his), Staff Writer

As Thanksgiving break came and went, many people in the community were looking forward to the Penn State student’s departure, but in reality, little may have changed. 

According to PSU News, “Students living at University Park must leave their on-campus residence by 4 p.m. on Nov. 22. Students living in on-campus housing at the Commonwealth Campuses must depart by 4 p.m. on Nov. 21.” Those students are not allowed back into residence halls until the start of the spring semester.

While this may seem like a welcome change, it only applies to students in on-campus housing. According to US News, 64% of students live off-campus, outside PSU’s jurisdiction. Those who had the option of returning to off-campus housing could stay for the remainder of the semester. But have they?

“Most people I know are going home for Thanksgiving break and about half of them plan on coming back till the end of the semester,” said Dayna Brewer, an undergraduate at Penn State. 

If many students are still coming back after Thanksgiving break, COVID cases may continue being reported around the community. But is Penn State doing much to convince students to stay home? Brewer thinks not. 

“They honestly haven’t done anything to my knowledge to encourage it,” Brewer said. 

Despite this lack of communication, Penn State is still trying to keep COVID spread as low as possible. 

“Safety comes as a number one priority and Penn State keeps reminding us that,” Brewer said.

Though PSU may not be able to transition all students to remote learning, they still will be testing students in State College. PSU News says, “All random surveillance testing will resume on campuses on Nov. 30 and continue through the remainder of the fall semester for employees working onsite and students who may continue to live on or near Penn State campuses.”

However, while Penn State may be trying to keep COVID cases to a minimum, students have mixed views. 

“From a student perspective, I feel really conflicted because I think the university could do a lot more. But at the end of the day, this university is a business, and recently, it’s been obvious of that,” PSU student Maryah Burney said.

But what does the local community think of this “partial departure”? While many State College citizens normally appreciate the presence of PSU students in town, this year, they are a little cautious. 

“I was disappointed that they were coming back,” State College resident Blair Malcom said. “I wasn’t as worried about the students themselves. I was worried about it starting there and coming to the community.”

According to the PA DOH, after PSU students arrived in State College, cases spiked dramatically. And according to State College News, over 75% of cases are from outside University Park, where the students live in private apartments. If it’s off-campus students who are largely contributing to the spike in cases, even a semi-departure of PSU students could bring relief to the community.

With some of the students gone, all people in the State College area can hope is for Happy Valley to live up to its name and “flatten the curve.”

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