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Keeping campus COVID numbers low

While some colleges and universities in our area have had to make major adjustments after outbreaks of COVID-19 on campus, others are keeping the numbers low.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Between Wilkes University and King's College, there are about 5,200 students studying in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Since the beginning of August, only 13 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported between the two schools.

Students tell us they think that's because of a commitment to safety, both on- and off-campus.

Even the statue of John Wilkes on Wilkes University's campus is wearing a mask. Students think it's that commitment that has led to a low number of COVID-19 cases on campus so far this semester.

"For all the students that will I see everybody wearing a mask, no matter where they are on campus, whether it's walking outside or in the library or in the student center where we have lunch and everything like that," said senior Niamh Harkins.

Since August 11, only 12 students or employees at Wilkes have tested positive for the virus.

"At any given point in time at this snapshot Wilkes is doing very well, we'd like to believe that all of the steps that we put in place along with a community effort has helped to keep our cases down, but we realize that next week we could be a different situation or the week after," said Mark Allen, dean of students at Wilkes University.

Senior Niamh Harkins thinks the commitment to staying safe has been made off-campus, too.

"I think the Wilkes students, off-campus especially, are following the statewide regulations about 25 less than a house and there's really, I wouldn't say there's any big parties going on on campus at all right now because of that. It's more like small friend groups if anything that are hanging out, and you're kind of sticking to the same group of friends that you're around most of the time," said Harkins.

"Our students, faculty, and staff do daily health assessments. We have an app that helps them do that and to track that. And we also have continuous reminders, either by signage, or emails going out regarding good personal hygiene," said Justin Kraynack, assistant vice president of operations and compliance.

Signs can be seen around neighboring King's College campus too. So far King's has only had one student test positive for the virus. Sophomore Kaitlyn Yesik thinks it has something to do with off-campus behavior, too.

"People still want to have their college experience but I haven't seen much of people like with big parties. Like people will get together on the weekends, and have fun with their friends but it's not big parties or anything," Yesik said.

Every week, the number of student and employee tests and their results are posted on our area college and university websites.

Wilkes University COVID-19 Dashboard

King's College COVID-19 Dashboard