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Medicine and Health

Long Line Of Penn State Students Raises Concerns As Push For 'Social Distancing' Ramps Up

Penn State students load their belongings into cars to leave campus on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
Anne Danahy

Penn State has switched to online classes for the next three weeks in response to the coronavirus. But students have a window of time to go to their dorm rooms to collect books or other things they need, and that led to at least one long line at University Park, raising concerns.

The image was posted on Facebook Sunday: a long line of Penn State students standing and waiting to access their dorm rooms. The concerns were obvious.

As the website Onward State, which posted the pictures, put it: “So much for social distancing.”

Penn State students were on spring break last week. Before they returned, the university announced it was ending in-person classes and switching to remote learning. That will continue until at least April 6.

Students who live on-campus had the option of going into their dorm rooms Friday or Sunday. Or they can go Monday. Many took advantage of that on Sunday.

Penn State spokesman Wyatt DuBois said students were instructed to go to their dorm only if they needed things for remote learning or medications, eyeglasses or personal essentials.

"The line occurred due to a sudden influx of students arriving on site simultaneously, many of them without a key to their room, and it was dispersed quickly," DuBois said in an email. "Housing staff are closely monitoring student arrivals and have been checking students in outside. Staff also are communicating the need to maintain social distancing while students are on premises and signage on site reinforces that message.”

The Centers for Disease Control recommended Sunday calling off events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. The CDC says this "does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses."

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