Returning university students represent large-scale, transient demographic shifts and a potential source of transmission to adjacent communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this prospective longitudinal cohort study, we tested for IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in a non-random cohort of residents living in Centre County prior to the Fall 2020 term at the Pennsylvania State University and following the conclusion of the Fall 2020 term. We also report the seroprevalence in a non-random cohort of students collected at the end of the Fall 2020 term. Of 1313 community participants, 42 (3.2%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies at their first visit between 07 August and 02 October 2020. Of 684 student participants who returned to campus for fall instruction, 208 (30.4%) were positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies between 26 October and 21 December. 96 (7.3%) community participants returned a positive IgG antibody result by 19 February. Only contact with known SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals and attendance at small gatherings (20–50 individuals) were significant predictors of detecting IgG antibodies among returning students (aOR, 95% CI 3.1, 2.07–4.64; 1.52, 1.03–2.24; respectively). Despite high seroprevalence observed within the student population, seroprevalence in a longitudinal cohort of community residents was low and stable from before student arrival for the Fall 2020 term to after student departure. The study implies that heterogeneity in SARS-CoV-2 transmission can occur in geographically coincident populations.
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