Update (8/26/22): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention returned Allegheny County to the medium level of community transmission of COVID-19. This story has also been updated in response to new information from the schools listed, but may not reflect all changes made after this date.
Update (8/25/22): While masking in Pittsburgh Public Schools buildings remains mandatory while COVID-19 levels are high, the district has made masking optional when levels return to the medium or low levels. Students will be required to quarantine for five days if they test positive for the virus, but not when they are exposed but do not test positive.
As the school year approaches, Allegheny County is at the high COVID-19 community transmission level.
Even as COVID-19 is a continuing concern, the monkeypox outbreak reached the United States earlier this summer. Although monkeypox has a lower fatality rate and slower transmission than COVID, it still raises concerns as health officials learn how to contain it.
Here are the updated mask mandates alongside quarantine guidelines and monkeypox information for colleges in Allegheny County and for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Pittsburgh Public Schools
As long as the COVID-19 community transmission level remains high, “All students and employees are required to wear a mask while inside a school district building with few exceptions,” according to the Pittsburgh Public Schools website.
The district’s website offered no statement or guidance on monkeypox, and an email to the school system’s spokesperson was not answered.
So far, doctors have not raised red flags regarding monkeypox spreading in public schools, but they have said that it’s important to notice the symptoms and notify faculty and staff. If you notice signs of a rash, fever, chills or similar flu-like symptoms, testing for monkeypox is available at hospitals and urgent care settings, and free testing is available at the Allegheny County Health Department’s Public Health Clinic.
University of Pittsburgh
When transmission returns to medium or low levels, masks are optional.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it is no longer recommending quarantine after exposure to COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, though it continues to recommend isolation after a positive test. The COVID-19 Medical Team at Pitt suggests that individuals confirmed or suspected of exposure wear masks for 10 days around others in enclosed areas and then get tested five days after exposure.
The university also issued a statement this month indicating that it is working with the county Health Department to monitor monkeypox levels. The statement also provided information on symptoms, vaccination and testing.
Carnegie Mellon University
“Facial coverings both indoors and outdoors are optional but strongly recommended,” according to CMU’s Student Health website. The university stresses the importance of reporting any positive COVID-19 test received by any student, staff member or affiliate.
According to the University Quarantine and Isolation Requirements, anyone who tests positive is required to spend seven days in isolation. People who have up-to-date vaccinations and are exposed to others who test positive need not quarantine, but those who are exposed and unvaccinated must isolate for seven days.
CMU issued a brief statement urging students who show symptoms of monkeypox to call University Health Services.
Robert Morris University
RMU students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend in-person classes, live in on-campus housing and participate in club and intercollegiate athletics.
Though masks are optional per campus policy, individual faculty and staff members are able to choose whether to require masks in their classrooms or during office hours.
RMU’s website did not include a statement about monkeypox earlier this week.
Chatham University students, faculty, and staff must have COVID-19 vaccination to attend face-to-face classes and participate in campus activities.
University health officials require students that test positive stay home for at least five days and isolate themselves from others, then wear face coverings for five more days.
Chatham’s website did not include any statement regarding monkeypox.
While the university does not require masks in indoor spaces, it is up to the discretion of faculty if they require masks in their classes, office hours or labs. “Unvaccinated and individuals at high risk are strongly encouraged to continue to wear masks,” Duquesne Health Services advises.
Duquesne’s website did not include any statement regarding monkeypox.
COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all students and staff who are not fully remote. Boosters are encouraged.
The university requires indoor masking until Sept. 9, and after that will require face coverings when community COVID-19 levels are high, and always in the Early Learning Center and Trinity Hall.
The university follows CDC guidelines and protocols for quarantine and isolation.
Carlow’s website did not include any statement regarding monkeypox.
Ashanti McLaurin is a PublicSource editorial intern.
This story was fact-checked by Terryaun Bell.
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