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Penn State, Community Leaders Stress Safety Ahead Of Football Season

Ten days ahead of Penn State football’s upcoming season, university and community leaders are teaming up to encourage students, fans, and residents to act safely and responsibly this fall.

In a press release Tuesday, Penn State said its “strong partnership” with the State College community is playing a large role in its plans to support the team this fall. And although fans and tailgaters won’t be at Beaver Stadium this fall, the university is continuously advising against any unnecessary travel into the area come football season.

“Any travel by fans or students — to or from a campus — would detrimentally impact these ongoing efforts,” Penn State said in a statement.

Penn State President Eric Barron argued a “collective commitment” to safety this fall is the only way the football season can be pulled off successfully. He added it’ll take the efforts of everyone involved to make that a reality.

“It will take a continued collective commitment to protect one another during these challenging times. Thanks to our students, faculty and staff; the enhanced safety protocols mandated by the Big Ten; and the strong partnerships across the University and its local communities, another football season can take place this fall,” Barron said.

Dr. Nirmal Joshi, chief medical officer of Mount Nittany Health, echoed Barron’s sentiment and added individual actions can have a widespread impact on the community’s health at large.

“It is up to each and every one of us to take COVID-19 seriously and understand that our individual actions can and do have consequences that affect many,” Joshi said. “It’s important to practice social distancing, even when outdoors. Follow masking protocols and wash your hands often — and carry hand sanitizer with you when you can’t easily access soap and water. The seriousness of this virus cannot be stressed enough, and it’s essential that we all do our part to keep our community safe.”

Last week, Mount Nittany Medical Center adjusted some of its operations following a significant increase in coronavirus-positive inpatients. The hospital was treating 13 individuals between 33 and 96 as of Friday, October 9.

Some officials implored fans and students alike to take part in Penn State’s virtual options, including the “Virtual Valley Experience,” which was announced last week. Fans are also able to purchase cardboard cutouts of themselves to be placed in Beaver Stadium. Each purchase benefits THON and some Penn State equity and inclusion funds and scholarships.

“I’m sure most of us wish we could be physically together with our fellow alumni right now, especially since there is nothing like a Penn State game day to highlight our Penn State pride. I am confident, though, that Nittany Nation will roar just as loudly in our virtual festivities,” Alumni Association President Randy Houston said. “I am excited to see the many creative ways Penn State football fans will find to stay connected and cheer on our Nittany Lions from home. Like all of you, I look forward to us being together again soon. There is no doubt we’ll be a force to be reckoned with!”

Community leaders also touted the borough’s coronavirus mitigation ordinance, which is now enforced on campus by Penn State Police. The ordinance, passed in August, gives law enforcement power to issue civil citations and $300 fines to anyone found not wearing a mask when necessary or violating social distancing protocols when applicable.

“The Borough of State College and surrounding areas have been diligently working with Penn State so that the return of fall Penn State athletics is done with public health as the top concern,” borough manager Tom Fontaine said. “This could not be done without a strong, collaborative and coordinated approach by both the University and the community. This pandemic continues to impact our community, and it will take everyone to have a shared responsibility in limiting the spread.”

Penn State once again floated the idea of an outdoor, socially distanced watch party for students, just like Provost Nick Jones did in a town hall last weekend. It said Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs is working to host one for the Nittany Lions’ Halloween matchup against Ohio State, but more details need to be worked out before plans are set in stone.

“This football season, as unusual and unfamiliar as it may be, promises to again be one in which our Nittany Lions show the nation the amazing talent, character and skills of our student-athletes and coaches,” Barron said. “It also will be a time to show the nation and the world that we value and uphold our responsibility for the health and safety of one another. Not just those in our Nittany Nation, but also those beyond campus borders as we reduce travel and avoid large gatherings for the benefit of all.

“This is our opportunity to remind everyone why we are and always will be Penn State proud – together or apart.”

Penn State football will begin its season with a road matchup against Indiana at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. The game will be broadcast live on FS1.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. He loves Seinfeld, is really into video games, and would wipe the floor with you in Halo. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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