College students arrive in Pittsburgh amid rising delta variant cases

PITTSBURGH — As colleges and universities, like Pitt, start up for the fall semester, there are a lot of COVID-19 concerns.

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Cases of the delta variant are climbing, but schools are adapting and students have creative options to keep moving forward.

“Honestly it feels amazing! Last year I spent the majority of the time in our dorms,” explained Ally Voutsines, who is a student at Pitt.

‘Together we will get through this’ is written on banners across Pitt’s campus, welcoming students at the start of a new semester.

The timing is tough, as COVID-19 cases are rising from the highly contagious delta variant. More than 600 new cases were reported in Allegheny County in the last 48 hours.

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“I am kind of concerned now that things are ramping up. I think things like masking and social distancing are important,” explained student Dj Heim.

However, Pitt is being praised for the choices it’s giving students. For the first two weeks, students can choose to go to class or learn from their laptops.

“I was really shocked the school itself didn’t mandate vaccines, but I really liked the fact that if people aren’t vaccinated, they need to submit to weekly testing. It makes me feel a lot safer going into classes,” Voutsines said.

On Friday, Carnegie Mellon University announced all faculty and staff would be required to be vaccinated. Something will be mandated for students this spring, citing similar concerns over the delta variant.

As campuses return to life, some businesses in Oakland are gone. There’s a concern college students will take to the south side, which has recently been plagued by violence.

Some business owners told Channel 11 that they even met with college administration, asking for their help keeping students away until the situation calms down.

Pitt says after the first two weeks, class is back to in-person. As of two days ago only 55% of faculty and staff across all Pitt campuses provided proof of vaccination.