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Colleges Welcome Back Students With Mixed COVID-19 Protocols

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The University of Pittsburgh campus looks a bit different now compared to the fall with fewer students walking around campus.

However, students are thrilled to just be there for the spring semester.

"It does feel nice being back in person," Egan Noel, who is a freshman, said. "We were having some worries of course with Omicron and everything like that, that we weren't going to be able to come back at all."

"It feels good," said Astrid Johnston who is also a freshman, "but it's really empty."

Some students started coming back to campus Saturday. The rest will arrive in phases, with the last group moving in Jan. 21 and 22.

After arriving, students will have to shelter in place for at least five days.

Students can leave their rooms to go to class, pick up food, exercise, work and study in the library.

This means, the Pittsburgh campus will shelter in place through Jan. 26, and regional campuses until Jan. 13.

"I do wish there were more people here, but I understand and respect why they did that," Jake Vasilias, another freshman, said. "I think it's a smart thing to do. I'm just glad we're not completely online."

Students are currently learning remotely, with hopes of returning to in-person classes Jan. 27.

There is an exception.

If a dean approves an in-person class, students will be notified.

"I think the remote learning is a good start," Johnston said.

"With the situation at hand, they're handling the best they can," Noel said. "It's uncertain times. They've been like that for a while. So they're doing the best they can."

Students do have some concerns.

"I'm kind of worried about sports," Noel said. "I really want to go to the basketball games and stuff like that."

"I just want us to be back normally and like [Noel] said, going to basketball games and just in classes, going to the gym, living a normal college life," said Vasilias.

They also do not want COVID-19 to spread on campus.

For now, they are going to enjoy their time together.

"I'm just looking forward to being with my people again," said Noel. "Pitt's basically become my new home, and the people I've been with, I love it. I'm just really happy to see them again."

For those who are unvaccinated, they must have an approved exemption and provide proof of a negative COVID test every week.

Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, and Carlow Universities are also starting with remote learning.

However, universities like Penn State, La Roche, Point Park, and Duquesne will begin with in-person learning.

Click here for more information and detailed plans on COVID-19 protocols for colleges and universities across Western Pennsylvania.

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