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Colleges Plan Return To Campus With New Health And Safety Guidelines

Gene J. Puskar
Carnegie Mellon University and other local colleges and universities have created their own plans to bring students back to campus for the fall semester.


On today's program: Local colleges and universities plan to welcome students back to campus amid the pandemic; a Pittsburgh-based research firm says one third of parents surveyed are uncomfortable sending their children back into classrooms; and experiences with racism take a toll on the mental health of people of color.

“Not a lot of consistency” in colleges’ return to campus plans
(00:00 — 4:42)

Fall classes will start in the coming weeks for many colleges and universities, despite concerns about COVID-19, students are moving back to campus.

Sarah Schneider, who covers education for 90.5 WESA, reports local institutions are trying to make the best decisions for their communities based on COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations.

While all of the colleges and universities in the city of Pittsburgh will offer some kind of hybrid option for classes with in-person or virtual learning, the schools have been left to decide the best course of action.

“There’s not a lot of consistency in the state and university by university, they’re all doing this a little bit differently,” says Schneider. 

Support for reopening schools falls along income lines, says CivicScience
(4:49 — 9:40)

More than one third of parents across the country say they’re not comfortable sending their kids back to school this fall, according tonew data from Pittsburgh-based research firmCivicScience

Casey Taylor analyzes consumer trends for Civic Science. He says income is a dividing line among people surveyed, with households making less than $50,000 a year being “much more likely than higher earners to be NOT comfortable” sending their kids back to school.

“Ignorance is bliss in some capacity,” he tells The Confluence. While affluent people have not completely escaped the effects of the pandemic, Taylor says “Disproportionately, this is impacting lower-income consumers, and that’s going to fuel that divide.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools postponed in-person return to schools till at least the end of August. 

Racial trauma’s impact on mental health
(9:46 — 17:48)

COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color in the United States, with Black Americans experiencing mortality rates about 2.3 times as high as the rates for white Americans and Asian Americans.

This is just one example of the trauma Black Americans experience. They are also often reminded of racial inequities and face trauma from racism.

These experiences can take a toll on a person’s mental health, saysNeal Holmes, a therapist working with patients who have experienced racial trauma. He says speaking with a professional can be beneficial even if people may be hesitant to seek help.

“One might not think ‘I need to engage in therapy. I’m making it every day.’ But I really try to stress that I want my clients to be empowered to live the life that they would like to live, and to live it abundantly. And it’s really important that people know they can do that.”


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at
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