As doors open, schools and colleges weigh masking, quarantines and monkeypox

Photos via Adobe Stock. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Update (8/25/22): While masking in Pittsburgh Public Schools buildings remains mandatory while COVID-19 levels are high, as they are on this date, 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

University of Pittsburgh bridge walkway and signage
(Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

With transmission levels high, masks are required in indoor spaces on Pitt’s main campus, except for enclosed offices and residence units.

When transmission returns to medium or low levels, masks are optional. 

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