Lion Shrine line

The line of graduates waiting to get their picture taken at the Nittany Lion shrine stretches hundreds of feet at the Penn State University main campus ahead of graduation this week.

Penn State students, faculty and staff have recently been asked to complete anonymous surveys on their COVID-19 vaccination status, in the hopes the university can form an accurate estimate to “inform ongoing plans” for the fall.

University spokesperson Wyatt DuBois said in an email Friday that the university plans to share the survey results prior to the start of the fall semester.

The university sent students an email Wednesday with a URL to complete the survey, a little more than a week after sending a similar email to faculty and staff. In a news release, the university said such surveys are “vital” to “inform what, if any, additional mitigation strategies may need to be implemented when on-campus activities fully resume in August.”

Penn State announced in May that it intended to incentivize the vaccine, rather than require it, despite resolutions from both the University Park student government and the faculty senate that supported such a mandate. Without the requirement, the university does not know students’ vaccination rates for certain — although it previously asked students to voluntarily upload proof of their vaccinations through myUHS in exchange to be entered into weekly contests through Aug. 23 for cash payments, gift cards and football memorabilia.

It’s not known how effective the incentivization model has been, though the survey results could offer a glimpse.

Last fall, more than 5,100 University Park students and employees tested positive for the coronavirus. Since Dec. 19, the number of new infections has decreased to a little more than 2,750.

Centre County, home to the University Park campus, currently boasts a weekly testing positivity rate under 1% and an incidence rate of 5.5 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. To date, more than 76,000 residents have been fully vaccinated.

Penn State’s first day of class is Aug. 23. New students are set to arrive on campus Aug. 16.

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