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September 07, 2021

COVID-19 outbreak at La Salle's campus forces all classes online

The change to virtual learning is expected to last a few days; the university reported 43 coronavirus cases on Monday almost all among students

Education COVID-19
La Salle University COVID-19 Source/La Salle University

A rise in COVID-19 cases at La Salle University has resulted in the school temporarily halting in-person classes beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7. Data on La Salle's website shows 42 of the 43 people to test positive for the coronavirus are students. Nearly 85% of La Salle University's students, faculty and staff are fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, the school says.

La Salle University students will not attend in-person classes this week. The college is conducting online-only instruction for the next several days due to a spike in COVID-19 infections on campus.

School officials there has been "a concentrated increase of positive cases" that is "almost entirely" among its student body. As of Monday, students accounted for 42 of the 43 confirmed cases on campus, the university's COVID-19 dashboard shows.

COVID-19 infections occurred among vaccinated and unvaccinated people and among those living live on- and off-campus, school officials said.

La Salle officials said they anticipated a significant number of students would be traveling during Labor Day weekend, which also was a factor in the decision to pivot to all-remote learning this week. Classes will be conducted remotely at least through Friday,

"I know you will agree that this is not an ideal start to our semester, and this is a very difficult decision to make," La Salle's interim president Tim O’Shaughnessy said. "However, we believe this is the appropriate course of action. Your health and safety was the most important factor we considered."

Fall semester classes at La Salle, located in Olney, had begun Aug. 30.

The university has planned for full-time, in-person learning this school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. La Salle is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. Students, faculty and staff had to provide proof of vaccination or submit an exemption request by early August.

Nearly 85% of the campus community is fully-vaccinated and 5%  more are partially-vaccinated, according to the college's COVID-19 dashboard. Just over 5% of students, faculty and staff are exempt from the requirement. Only 4% have yet to report their COVID-19 vaccination statuses to the school.

All students, faculty and staff – regardless of vaccination status – must wear masks while inside campus buildings.

Philadelphia requires all college students and staff at city schools to be fully-vaccinated by Oct. 15. Exemptions will only be permitted for medical or religious reasons.

Philly reimplemented its indoor mask mandate for public settings last month. Businesses and public indoor spaces that can verify that everyone, including staff and customers, is fully-vaccinated are exempt from the requirement. 

La Salle's decision suspend in-person learning comes as the delta variant continues to spread in the city, leading to rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Philadelphia is currently averaging 304 new COVID-19 infections per day over the past two weeks, according to city health officials. That number is up 47% during the last month. There are 191 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the city, which is almost double the amount there had been in early August.

Philly is experiencing high levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the past two weeks, 5% of COVID-19 tests in the city have come back positive.

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