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Villanova University Sign
Photo from Villanova University

Villanova University has asked students to stay within their residences except for limited reasons, entering a new phase of restrictions similar to Penn's Alert Level Three: Safer at Home.

Students will not be permitted to leave their residences or interact with others outside of their household outside of instruction and essential purposes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Villanova is currently offering in-person and hybrid courses, but the University threatened to return to entirely remote instruction if its current spike in COVID-19 cases continues. 

Approximately 5,000 students returned to the school’s campus on Jan. 19, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Since then, the school has recorded 597 cumulative cases of COVID-19, or nearly 12% of students living on campus. There are currently 504 active cases, according to Villanova's COVID-19 dashboard.

Daily COVID-19 cases at the school were initially in the single digits, but cases quickly shot up on Jan. 29, which saw 31 cases. Between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, more than 60 new COVID-19 cases were recorded each day. The sudden surge in positive cases has not been traced to any particular event,  Villanova spokesperson Jonathan Gust told the Inquirer

Villanova warned students that if the trend continues, it will end the on-campus semester.

In an alert sent to students on Feb. 5, Penn administrators warned that the University may move to Alert Level Three in its four-level alert system, which requires students to quarantine at their place of residence. The warning was prompted by a “worrisome” trend in the undergraduate positivity rate.

Penn recorded 111 positive cases in the last week of January, double the number of positive cases from in the previous week. 

Penn is currently at Alert Level Two, which places restrictions on gatherings and social events.