La Salle University is turning to online learning this week after experiencing what university officials are describing as a "concentrated increase" of positive COVID-19 infections in the past 48 hours.
The 5,000 student university will conduct remote learning Tuesday, Sept. 7 through Friday, Sept. 10, Tim O’Shaughnessy, the school's interim president said in an online message posted Sunday.
"We are experiencing a number of positive cases and presumed-positive cases among our campus community—almost entirely from within our student population. These cases are across vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals," O'Shaughnessy said.
He added that the high volume of travel for the Labor Day holiday coupled with the outbreak warranted the move to online instruction.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
The school, located in Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood, had a full vaccination rate of 85% across the entire campus community as of Friday and another 5% were partially vaccinated, O'Shaughnessy said.
The school is operating a COVID-19 testing center in the Treetop Café and a COVID-19 Response Team. O'Shaughnessy said the university would make a decision later in the week about when to return to in-person learning.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 40 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States and over 651,000 people have died. The highly-contagious delta variant has spread rapidly across the country leading to a spike in cases.
A recently-released CDC study found unvaccinated University of Chicago students who traveled for spring break earlier this year fueled an outbreak at the school in the weeks following the holiday period.
Most of the new infections are connected to unvaccinated individuals as public health officials continue to battle vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Breakthrough infections – when someone who is fully vaccinated contracts the virus – have also been reported, though the rate is smaller and the vaccine is extremely effective in preventing severe illness requiring hospitalization or death.
Federal health officials are expected to start allowing booster shots to increase immunity among fully vaccinated people in the coming weeks. The Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine to be approved for boosters so far.