Penn State Scranton: Back to School During COVID-19

We recently asked Penn State Scranton about the safety measures the school is taking for the 2020-2021 school year. To read how other local schools are handling COVID-19 safety, check out our September issue of Momentum Magazine.

What will your 2020 – 2021 school year look like – in-person, virtual, or a mix of both? How did the school arrive at that decision?

Penn State Scranton will offer a mix of both in-person and remote classes, as well as hybrid classes, which combine in-person classes with remote delivery on alternating days. It is part of Penn State’s coordinated, phased return to on-campus working and learning for students and employees across each of the University’s campuses this fall semester.

What safety measures and guidelines has the school put in place for this year?

Masks covering the nose and mouth are required in all campus buildings, classrooms, and common areas for all students, staff, and visitors. Classroom spaces have been reconfigured to ensure seating is a minimum of 6 feet apart. Hand sanitizers have been installed in multiple areas in all buildings.

All Penn State students and employees are asked to complete a daily symptom checker to self-screen for potential COVID-19 symptoms before returning to campus. Students enrolled for in-person courses or scheduled to be present at on-campus facilities will need to sign in with their Penn State ID to complete the daily student COVID-19 symptom checker through the Penn State Go app.

The University will conduct surveillance testing of faculty, staff, and students on its campuses throughout the semester, testing about 1% of our campus populations per day.

“Our main concern at this time is the health and well-being of our students and employees,” said Dr. Marwan Wafa, Penn State Scranton chancellor. “We are committed to serving and supporting our students and providing them with educational options that best suit them and support their needs at this time. To that end we have taken every precaution to make our on-campus facilities as safe as possible, and have implemented the necessary technology and training to ensure our remote delivery meets their needs. While things do look and feel differently right now, our commitment to ensuring our students receive quality instruction and services remains paramount.”

What do students have to look forward to for the upcoming school year?

Our student services staff is looking for ways to engage students through virtual events that will allow them to interact with fellow students via ZOOM and other virtual mediums.

What additional well-being resources will be available for students?

Upon returning to campus, all students were given safety kits that included masks, hand sanitizer, and educational information, and all faculty and staff were provided with two cloth face masks. In addition, the campus installed multiple hand-sanitizing stations in all buildings and common areas.

Our campus mental health counselor is available for one-on-one appointments with students, and last semester, our counselor ran a number of online well-being sessions for students and staff, such as stress relief, meditation, and yoga sessions. Also, our athletics department has organized a number of outdoor, social-distanced activities to engage students and student athletes.

Penn State Scranton also has a contingent of student public health ambassadors who actively provide guidance to, communicate with fellow students, the importance of practicing the healthy behaviors and social norms related to COVID-19.

Geisinger Unveils Online Information Security Hub to Combat Against Scams

Geisinger has launched a digital information hub dedicated to providing alerts and combating scams, making it easier to help our patients and health plan member protect their personal information. This includes security alerts about phone “spoofing” scams, where a caller deliberately fakes the information that appears on your caller ID display to disguise their identity.

Available at geisinger.org/security, the webpage provides information about the latest security alerts from Geisinger. This includes more information about phone spoofing scams, ways to help protect yourself against becoming a scam victim, and how to contact Geisinger if you have an information security concern.

“Unfortunately, there is no technology solution to prevent the random use of Geisinger phone numbers to scam unsuspecting patients and members,” said Steve Dunkle, Geisinger’s chief information security officer. “Geisinger is empowering our patients and members to stay safe, and that’s why we’ve created this hub.”

The spoofing technique occurs outside of the Geisinger network, taking it out of the system’s sight and control, but there is no “hacking” of Geisinger’s system. Scammers often use a local number, such as a 570 or 717 area code, or they spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust.

Recently, community members reported receiving calls that used this spoofing technique, claiming to be arranging Geisinger appointments. In these cases, the caller isn’t calling from Geisinger and are most likely trying to get personal information from you, which they can later use to commit fraud or identity theft.

“Phone spoofing scams are regularly reported to our information security office, and our best defense is an informed patient and member community,” Dunkle said. “We continue to work with telecommunication providers, and when appropriate local authorities, to do what we can to help in the fight against these scam calls. We still need everyone’s help in staying aware of the deceitful and malicious techniques being used by scammers and how to respond if scammers contact you.”

Never give out personal information, such as your Social Security number or medical record number, over the telephone — and do not rely on caller ID to be accurate. If you receive a call that is unexpected, suspicious or about which you have any doubts, you should hang up and call Geisinger directly at 800-275-6401 or check your myGeisinger account for messages.

Marywood University’s Ranks Among the 50 Best Architecture Degrees

Marywood University’s School of Architecture was recently ranked among the Top 50 Best Architecture Degrees by Learn.org. According to Learn.org, Maywood University is ranked at #29 because its undergraduate students have several exceptional ways to earn an architecture-focused degree, including bachelor of architecture (B.Arch.), bachelor of environmental design in architecture (BEDA), and bachelor of interior architecture (BIA).

Further, Learn.org stated that while earning their career-enhancing degree, students can access world-class facilities that were built with sustainability in mind and re-use the school’s former natatorium and gymnasium. The Center for Architectural Studies includes wood and metal shops, a reference library, a digital fabrication room, and a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) lab. Students can also round out their academic studies at Marywood with a study abroad program that takes place at the International Studies Institute (ISI) in Florence, Italy.  Additionally, there is a 60-credit master of interior architecture degree program on the graduate level, featuring classes that range from lighting design to sustainability.

Since 2003, Learn.org has been dedicated to helping millions of students and working professionals research potential schools, degrees, and careers by providing reliable and practical answers to their most critical questions. From expert advice and guidance, Learn.org helps students connect to the schools that can help students to reach their goals.

For additional information about Marywood University’s School of Architecture, please visit www.marywood.edu/architecture/, or call the Office of Admissions at (570) 348-6234.

Wright Center for Community Health’s Kingston Practice Welcomes Two Pediatricians

Board-certified pediatricians Kabir Keshinro, M.D., and Vijay Prasad, M.D., have joined The Wright Center for Community Health’s Kingston Practice, where they will treat newborns to 18-year-olds for sick and well visits.

Dr. Keshinro is a graduate of University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Nigeria, and completed his pediatric residency at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, New York. He most recently served as a pediatric hospitalist and faculty member for The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s Regional Family Medicine Residency Program (formerly known as Wilkes-Barre Academic Medicine). He also has served as an assistant clinical professor for The Commonwealth Medical College, now known as Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Scranton.

Dr. Prasad graduated from Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital, India, and completed post-graduation studies in pediatrics at Patna Medical College and Hospital, India. He earned his master’s degree in business administration from Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Prasad completed pediatric residency training at Woodhull Medical Center, an affiliate of SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Brooklyn, New York, as well as two years of neonatology fellowship training at University of Illinois, Chicago. He served as an assistant clinical professor for The Commonwealth Medical College (now Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine), Scranton. Dr. Prasad is a pediatric hospitalist at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and serves as a pediatric faculty for The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education.

Both Dr. Keshinro and Dr. Prasad are accepting pediatric patients at The Wright Center’s Kingston Practice, located inside the First Hospital building at 2 Sharpe St. To schedule an appointment, call 570-491-0126.

NEPIRC to Host Free Virtual Manufacturing Day

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) will host its annual Manufacturing Day event on Friday October 2nd, 2020. This year’s Manufacturing Day is free to all manufacturers and will be streamed virtually thanks to our partner, Coal Creative. When registering, attendees will have the option to select from a number of different sessions, each of which addresses a specific manufacturing best practice or technology.

NEPIRC’s event will feature David Beurle, CEO of Future iQ, as the keynote speaker. Mr. Beurle, a world-renowned strategist, researcher and practitioner, pioneers and applies innovative tools and approaches that assist countries, cities, organizations, regions, tourism destinations and industries to shape their economic and community development futures. As the keynote speaker at NEPIRC’s 2019 Manufacturing Day, Mr. Beurle captivated the audience, and so NEPIRC looks forward to hosting him again in 2020.

In addition to Mr. Beurle, NEPIRC’s Manufacturing Day agenda includes the following presentations: Talent Succession Planning, presented by Leo Gilroy, Director of Strategy & Innovation, NEPIRC; Do Your Part #BECYBERSMART, presented by Marc Gonzalez, Site2; Problem Solving, presented by Gerry Giza, Director of Lean & Continuous Improvement, NEPIRC; Industry 4.0, presented by Brian Matyjevich, Lean Enterprise Consultant, NEPIRC; and ISO 9001:2015 Overview, presented by Brian Matyjevich and Ray Kryeski, Mechanical Engineer, NEPIRC. For presentation descriptions or to register, please visit the Training and Events tab on NEPIRC’s website by visiting www.nepirc.com or by calling 570.704.0018.

Each year, Manufacturing Day is recognized nationally on the first Friday of October with events taking place all month to celebrate the manufacturing industry and is contributions to local, regional and national economies. Additionally, Manufacturing Day serves to bring awareness of the industry to students, parents and educators to help bolster interest in manufacturing jobs.

Wolf Administration Announces the Opening of Swiftwater CNG Transit Fueling Station

Today, the Wolf Administration announced the formal opening of service at one of the 24 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling stations planned as part of a Public Private Partnership (P3). Officials from PennDOT, Trillium CNG, and Monroe County Transit Authority (MCTA) marked the start of fueling at the facility at 134 MCTA Drive in Swiftwater, Monroe County.

“This innovative program continues to expand, helping transit agencies save on fuel costs and improve sustainability,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “These are important steps to keeping Pennsylvanians moving and improving quality of life.”

Through the $84.5 million statewide P3 project, Trillium is designing, building, financing, and will operate and maintain CNG fueling stations at 24 public transit agency sites through a 20-year P3 agreement. Other stations will be constructed over the next several years, and Trillium is also making CNG-related upgrades to existing transit maintenance facilities.

“PennDOT is excited to continue expanding this program, to help make transit agencies more sustainable, and create public benefits for years to come,” said PennDOT Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation Jennie Granger. “Compressed natural gas provides a cost savings in comparison to diesel fuel, and it burns cleaner.”

Under the program, Monroe County Transit Authority will convert up to 42 vehicles to CNG, with some vehicles already in service. The authority estimates saving roughly $200,000 annually based on current diesel costs and their diesel usage of roughly 180,000 gallons per year.

PennDOT’s overall P3 project includes CNG fueling accessible to the public at six transit agency sites, with the option to add to sites in the future. PennDOT will receive a royalty, excluding taxes, for each gallon of fuel sold to the public at public sites, which will be used to support the cost of the project.

Using the P3 procurement mechanism allows PennDOT to install the fueling stations faster than if a traditional procurement mechanism were used for each site, resulting in significant estimated capital cost savings of more than $46 million.

To date, stations have opened at:

  • Cambria County Transportation Authority, Johnstown Facility, includes public fueling;
  • Mid Mon Valley Transportation Authority;
  • Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, York Facility, includes public fueling;
  • Cambria County Transportation Authority, Ebensburg Facility;
  • Westmoreland County Transportation Authority;
  • Centre Area Transportation Authority;
  • Beaver County Transit Agency;
  • Crawford Area Transportation Authority;
  • New Castle Area Transportation Authority, includes public fueling;
  • Altoona Metro Transit;
  • Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Allentown Facility;
  • Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Gettysburg Facility;
  • Indiana County Transportation Authority, includes public fueling;
  • Lebanon Transit, Lebanon Facility;
  • Butler Transit Authority;
  • Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation System; and
  • Mercer County Regional Council of Governments.

A list of other agencies participating in the P3 project, in order of construction-start timeline, follows:

  • Erie Metropolitan Transportation Authority; includes public fueling;
  • Luzerne County Transportation Authority;
  • Schuylkill Transportation System;
  • Hazleton Public Transit;
  • County of Lackawanna Transportation System, includes public fueling; and
  • Capital Area Transit.

When the project is completed, the fueling stations will supply gas to nearly 700 CNG buses at transit agencies across the state. To learn more about this and other P3 projects visit www.P3.pa.gov

Over 200 Attend Scranton Area Community Foundation’s Virtual NEPA Learning Conference

The Scranton Area Community Foundation, through its Center for Community Leadership and Nonprofit Excellence in partnership with Moses Taylor Foundation and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, hosted the 2020 NEPA Learning Conference completely virtually on Thursday, September 17, and Friday, September 18, 2020, offering over 200 nonprofit organizations and professionals across the region an opportunity to receive in-depth training from local and nationally-recognized presenters.

Keynote speakers included Jessamyn Shams-Lau, Executive Director of the Perry Foundation and coauthor of Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits & Foundations Can Build EPIC Partnerships; and Wes Moore, bestselling author, Army combat veteran, social entrepreneur, and Robin Hood’s Chief Executive Officer. Moore’s book, The Other Wes Moore, a perennial New York Times bestseller, has captured the nation’s attention on the fine line between success and failure in our communities and in ourselves, and has been optioned by executive producer Oprah Winfrey and HBO to be made into a movie. Plenary speakers included Dr. Barbara Larson, Executive Professor of Management at Northeastern University, whose research on remote working environments and virtual work has been published in Harvard Business Review and many other journals.

Attendees of this two-day learning conference had an opportunity to learn from local and national experts in a variety of fields, network and connect virtually with peers, and discover how they can create a learning culture within their organization. The conference shared strategies for staying solvent during unprecedented times, taught how to maximize resiliency to thrive during tough times, and shared useful tips on how to visualize an organization’s impact and sustainability. Over 200 representatives from nonprofit organizations across the region attended this virtual event.

“This conference was a great opportunity to hit the pause button on our daily operations and reflect on our current situation mid-COVID,” stated Bill Kern, Executive Director of Countryside Conservancy in La Plume, Pennsylvania. “Hearing how other organizations are adapting to our new reality and planning for an unknown future has been both enlightening and encouraging.”

Julie Schumacher Cohen, Assistant Vice President of Community Engagement & Government Affairs at The University of Scranton, participated as an attendee and also a moderator for one of the conference sessions at the conference. “It was wonderful to participate in this year’s conference, including introducing and moderating a session with guest speaker Dr. Danielle Gadson from Villanova University on making meaningful community connections in times of racial unrest,” Cohen stated.  She added, “We were able to learn and discuss together how we can work toward a more equitable community in the context of racial injustice—these conversations and so many other conversations during the conference will no doubt lead to even more collaboration and engagement across our region.”

“It is more important now than ever to prioritize learning so that nonprofit organizations can be better poised to manage change,” said Laura Ducceschi, President and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation. “Our goal at this conference is to provide high quality training opportunities so that nonprofits can be able to continue to effectively meet their important missions.”

Sponsors for the 2020 NEPA Learning Conference included Moses Taylor Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, The William C. McGowan Charitable Fund, Geisinger, The Luzerne Foundation, McGrail Merkel Quinn & Associates, Goodwill Industries of Northeastern Pennsylvania, United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, Edwards + Strunk, Penn State Scranton, Center City Print, Agile Strength Fitness, AllOne Foundation and Charities, and GiveGab.

This event was originally scheduled to take place in person in downtown Scranton but due to the public health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to support the health and well-being of the region, the event took place virtually through Whova, an online conference platform.

For more information on the 2020 NEPA Learning Conference, please contact Brittany Pagnotti, Communications Manager of the Scranton Area Community Foundation at 570-347-6203.

Leadership Lackawanna Core Team Celebrates YMCA Project

The Leadership Lackawanna Core Class team celebrates the new play area at the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Early Learning Center. Pictured (l to r): Leadership Lackawanna Core Program team members Suzanne Kennedy, Community Bank NA; Patrick Lindmeier, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials; Megan Kofira, Weiler Abrasives Group; Alonzo Baker, Penn Foster; Nicolette Stine, Tobyhanna Army Depot; Dawn Talley, Saint Joseph’s Center.

One of this year’s Leadership Lackawanna Core Program teams recently celebrated the completion of their community service project for the Greater Scranton YMCA’s Early Learning Center in Dunmore.

The team assisted the YMCA’s Early Learning Center by providing enhancements to the existing play area which was designated for riding tricycles. The improvements included creating a track for the preschool-aged children to ride tricycles, as well as multi-themed decorations for the playground that is located at the front of the facility.

“The Greater Scranton YMCA project team planned and created an interactive play area that features a tricycle track. The play area incorporates multiple educational activities and enhancements,” said Dawn Talley, Core team member. “The team hopes that the children of the Early Learning Center will enjoy many hours of fun while using the enhanced play area.”

Each year, the Leadership Lackawanna Core Program class completes various service projects helping to fulfill a need in our community. By working with fellow non-profit organizations, class participants expand their leadership abilities and further develop their skills. “The Greater Scranton YMCA appreciates the partnership it has with Leadership Lackawanna. This leadership class stepped up during these unprecedented times, followed through with their project well beyond the set deadlines, and helped the YMCA take a required space for our Early Learning Center children to work on gross motor skills – making it a space for the children to spend time working on those skills while having fun,” said Wayne Stump, executive director, Greater Scranton YMCA.