Updates for the Penn State Community

Coronavirus Information

This website will continue to serve as a resource for the University community as leaders at Penn State and around the world respond to the global coronavirus pandemic. It will be updated regularly with critical information and links to key resources.

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Resources for the remote learning period

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Read answers to our community’s most frequently asked questions.

Orders issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine on Nov. 23 amend previous COVID-19 orders to allow for adjusted capacity to gathering limits. Note: The order does not apply to classrooms, per the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The guidance below applies to any Penn State-sponsored event, either on or off campus. At this time, events organized or sponsored by organizations external to Penn State are not permitted on campuses. In general, meetings and events should be held remotely if feasible.

Student organizations

Student organizations wishing to hold an event or meeting should consult with the Office of Student Activities (University Park) or the chancellor’s office (Commonwealth Campuses).

Indoor meetings and events

Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests to hold indoor meetings or events of more than 10 participants, following the Governor’s order, Section 9, “Requirements for Events and Gatherings” related to room occupancy, must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below).

Outdoor meetings and events

Outdoor meetings of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests for outdoor meetings of more than 10 participants, following the Governor’s order, Section 9, “Requirements for Events and Gatherings,” related to maximum occupancy, must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below).

Approval process

Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor or outdoor meeting or event of more than 10 participants, must:

— Explain how the proposed event is in alignment with the mission of the university.

— Provide justification as to why the meeting or event cannot take place virtually or in a hybrid format (some participants in person and others virtually).

— Provide the total number of individuals attending the meeting or event, which must include the employees working the event.

— Include a plan that outlines how the organizers will meet the state of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn both indoors and outdoors and plans for abiding by social distancing guidelines must be included.

— If the event is on campus, work with the Office of Physical Plant to determine the room capacity that allows for social distancing.

— Keep a list of all attendees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

— Check with the unit’s human resources strategic partner to determine whether employees at the meeting should be entered into the Return to Work database.

— Provide evidence that the meeting organizers have worked with relevant campus leadership to ensure that the gathering is in compliance with local ordinances pertaining to COVID-19.

— Attendees who are not employees or students are required to sign an Acknowledgment of Risk document when feasible, in advance of their arrival if possible. If the unit wishes to make changes to this document other than to add the unit name, it should contact the Office of General Counsel.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas

Meetings that include participants from states with high levels of COVID-19 should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel guidance, including Pennsylvania’s Nov. 17 travel order.

Unit executives should elevate meeting/event requests to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs if there is uncertainty about whether the meeting/event should be approved.

Additional COVID-19 guidance and resources are available from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs.

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Campus buildings and classrooms: For those students who were unable to return home for the remote learning period, general purpose classrooms in Boucke, Hammond, Osmond, Thomas and Willard buildings will be open for access beginning Nov. 30 through the end of final exams. Students that remain on campus are welcome to use these classrooms to attend online classes, study and attend exams as needed. Social distancing and masking protocols must be followed. The schedule will be as follows:

Monday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 4: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 7, to Friday, Dec. 11: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 12, to Friday, Dec. 18: 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

All other Education and General Buildings will be locked/secured during this period of time, except for those individuals with card or key access. Faculty members who wish to continue teaching from a classroom after Nov. 20 must make arrangements in advance. Information on classroom use by faculty members during the remote learning period is available in this FAQ. Buildings that remain in use will continue to be cleaned in accordance with all Environmental Health and Safety guidelines.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, each campus will manage and communicate classroom availability directly to students and faculty.

Housing and Food Services: Market Pollock at Pollock Commons will be open during the remote learning period from Nov. 23 through Dec. 19 to accommodate students remaining on campus at University Park. Hours of operation for Market Pollock Kitchen and the Market can be found online. Penn State Go mobile ordering will be active for Market Pollock convenience store orders only. Other Penn State locations will communicate directly with their on-campus students about dining hours and availability. Contact information for Housing and Food Services is available by campus.

HUB-Robeson Center: The HUB will remain open 24/7, with the exception of Nov. 26-27 and Dec. 23 through Jan. 4, when the facility will be closed for Thanksgiving and the winter break. HUB Dining will be operating with reduced hours and menu availability.

University Libraries: Penn State University Libraries will be offering adjusted availability and hours after Nov. 20.

Libraries hours and locations at University Park

Libraries hours and locations at Commonwealth Campuses

University Health Services at University Park will continue to be available to students living on campus or in the local community. Use myUHS online to schedule an appointment. UHS will be operating on a modified schedule during the week of Thanksgiving, and the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463 will continue to operate as normal. The advice nurse line is available to students at all Penn State campuses. Students living on or near other Penn State campuses should seek care at their campus’ health services or a local provider.

Campus Recreation: The following University Park recreation facilities will remain open, except as noted below:

IM Building: closed Nov. 21, 26-27, and Dec. 12-TBD

Hepper Fitness Center: closed Nov. 22-TBD

McCoy Natatorium: closed Nov. 21, 26-27, and Dec. 12-TBD

Tennis Center: closed Nov. 21, Nov. 25-28, and Dec. 12-TBD

— The schedules and availability of recreational facilities at the Commonwealth Campuses will be managed at the campus level.

Penn State Berkey Creamery: The Creamery is open from noon to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Nov. 27. Limited curbside pickup also available.

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Classrooms will be available at Commonwealth Campuses after the shift to remote learning on Nov. 20, but hours and availability will differ from campus to campus. Campuses will be communicating directly to their students and faculty about classroom availability. Students can also use the Penn State Go mobile app to find available classrooms or visit a campus’ website for more information.

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For those students who were unable to return home for the remote learning period, general purpose classrooms in Boucke, Hammond, Osmond, Thomas and Willard buildings will be open for access beginning Nov. 30 through the end of final exams. Students that remain on campus are welcome to use these classrooms to attend online classes, study and attend exams as needed. Social distancing and masking protocols must be followed. The schedule will be as follows:

  • Monday, Nov. 30, to Friday, Dec. 4: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 7, to Friday, Dec. 11: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 12, to Friday, Dec. 18: 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, each campus will manage and communicate classroom availability directly to students and faculty.

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There will be no random surveillance testing for students and employees at all Penn State locations, except Hershey, between Nov. 30 and Jan. 18.

Penn State Hershey will continue random surveillance testing for students and employees due to the campus’ clinical focus. Students at Hershey will be required to submit to COVID-19 testing upon return from the Thanksgiving break, and classes will be fully remote during the first week before returning to in-person instruction.

Additional details about the status of the University’s surveillance testing program will be announced prior to the start of spring classes.

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University Park walk-up testing: Walk-up testing will be available at the Hintz Family Alumni Center for all students — living either on or off campus — and for employees listed in the University’s Return to Work database from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Nov. 30 through Jan. 18. Regular use of the walk-up testing site is strongly encouraged for any student living off campus. Prior to Nov. 30, employees in the Return to Work database at University Park can opt to receive a Vault Health mail-in kit for asymptomatic testing.

Walk-up testing at other Penn State campuses: At Penn State Altoona, Behrend and Harrisburg, walk-up testing will be available to all students, living on or off campus, from Nov. 30 to Jan. 18. Walk-up testing will be available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with hours varying by campus. Testing locations will be communicated directly to campus students. Voluntary opt-in testing via a Vault Health mail-in kit will be available for students living on and off campus at all other Penn State campuses, and for all employees listed in the Return to Work database.

Please continue to be mindful of wearing a mask, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, as these are the best prevention measures to avoid contracting COVID-19.

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University Park: Through the month of November, all faculty and staff employees who are in the University’s “Return to Work” database may take advantage of a new process for voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. Employees can initiate this testing process online through Vault Health. Test kits will be mailed to home addresses and the test will be completed under virtual observation with Vault Health to complete the process. Starting Nov. 30 through Jan. 18, walk-up testing will be available from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Hintz Family Alumni Center for University Park employees listed in the Return to Work database.

Other Penn State locations: For faculty and staff at other Penn State locations who work on site, opt-in asymptomatic testing via a Vault Health mail-in kit is available. This program will continue through Jan. 11, 2021. Testing will continue to be available only to employees who are listed in the University’s “Return to Work” database. Employees can initiate this testing process online through Vault Health. Test kits will be mailed to home addresses and the test will be completed under virtual observation with Vault Health to complete the process.

Employees who are not in the Return to Work database or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test, or schedule an appointment at a publicly available COVID-19 testing site.

Please continue to be mindful of wearing a mask, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, as these are the best prevention measures to avoid contracting COVID-19.

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Nov. 17 identified new mitigation strategies the state is taking to slow the spread of COVID-19, including heightened masking and travel requirements. On Nov. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf and the Department of Health issued another order strongly advising against travel within and outside of Pennsylvania.

All faculty, staff, students and parents should familiarize themselves with the Nov. 17 order before traveling. Additional travel details are available in this Penn State News article.

Travel order

Beginning Friday, Nov. 20, and until further notice, Pennsylvania will require anyone who visits from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before entering the commonwealth or, if an individual cannot get a test or chooses not to be tested, that individual must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Pennsylvanians who are visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before their return to the commonwealth or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.

— For students and parents: This order does not apply to “individuals in transit through the Commonwealth to another destination, provided that the time spent in the Commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections,” according to the order. Individuals in transit through the commonwealth to retrieve a student from a Penn State campus are encouraged to spend only the time necessary at the campus to complete this activity, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make any necessary travel connections.

— For student workers/graduate students: This order does not apply to individuals who have been approved to travel to and from another state or country for work or medical treatment.

— For employees: This order does not apply to individuals who have been approved to travel to and from another state or country for work or medical treatment.

— Employees should contact their supervisors with any questions regarding expectations for the remainder of the year and for the upcoming spring semester. For employees whose duties require them to keep working on campus, the University will follow health and safety measures, which include the strengthened masking guidelines, practicing social distancing and other similar actions.

— Penn State has suspended all University-affiliated international travel until further notice, and also strongly discourages personal travel abroad by Penn Staters. Absent exceptional circumstances, Penn State is not approving requests to work remotely while living in another country. Employees approved for University-affiliated travel are expected to return to the U.S. by their approved return date and must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours before their return to the commonwealth or if an individual cannot get a test, must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.

More information and FAQs about travel restrictions are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.

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The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued international COVID-19 travel advisories and recommend reconsidering or avoiding travel to many destinations. Penn State is extending the same guidance to all students, faculty and staff. If an employee decides to travel internationally for personal reasons during the remote period after Nov. 20 and/or during the holiday break, Penn State’s expectation is that they will return to the U.S. at the beginning of the spring semester. While minor travel delays can likely be accommodated, employees who are unable to return to the U.S. by the beginning of the spring semester will not be approved to work remotely from another country and will have to go on unpaid leave until they return to the U.S. Requests to work remotely from another country — even for a short period of time — can create significant tax, regulatory, and other issues for the University and involve complex legal analysis and expenditure of significant amounts of time and resources. All University-affiliated travel continues to be suspended until further notice. If travel is essential (i.e., mission critical), the request must be approved by the unit executive and then screened by the Provost’s office (or Lora Weiss for ARL/Kevin Black for the College of Medicine).

In addition, all faculty, staff and students should familiarize themselves with Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine’s Nov. 17 travel order, which requires that “individuals traveling into and returning to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from any other State or Commonwealth or an international location, must produce evidence of a negative SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) test from a specimen collected within 72 hours prior to entering the Commonwealth, or quarantine for 14 days upon entering.”

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Undergraduate and graduate students are permitted to continue working in labs if they are in town. Students may not request to remain in an on-campus residence hall solely for the purpose of working in a lab. Undergraduate students, graduate students, external visitors, and visiting scholars must receive prior approval from the relevant academic dean for them to continue on-campus research. Those who are already approved to work on campus do not need to be re-approved. All students and visitors must adhere to the standard operating procedures of the lab and be part of the person-count for square footage, scheduling, and any other relevant considerations. Instructors cannot and should not require undergraduate or graduate students to come to campus, and undergraduate and graduate students who conduct on-campus research must be included in the research reductions and approaches to de-densification.

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At University Park, general purpose classrooms (GPCs) will be closed during the student Thanksgiving break period, from Nov. 21 to 29. GPCs in Thomas, Willard, Boucke, Osmond and Hammond buildings will be reopened for student study use on Nov. 30 through the end of finals week on Dec. 18. Instructors needing to use classrooms in other buildings, or to reserve a GPC in the five open buildings, should work with their unit scheduler. The unit scheduler will add the class in 25Live in order to ensure that the building and the specific classroom will be unlocked at the necessary times.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, GPCs will remain open to instructors for use after Nov. 20, but instructors should check with local campus officials regarding availability of specific facilities. 

If an instructor is alone in the classroom, then they do not need to wear a mask. Masks must be worn in the presence of others, and shared equipment such as microphones, keyboards and other items should be wiped down in accordance with Environmental Health and Safety’s “Guidelines’s for Cleaning Computer Products.”

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Faculty, staff members, students and families across all Penn State campuses can call the Penn State COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121. The center’s hours of operation (all Eastern Time) are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The center will continue to be available during Thanksgiving break during these hours:

—Nov. 21: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

—Nov. 22: closed

—Nov. 23-25: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

—Nov. 26: closed

—Nov. 27-28: noon to 2 p.m.

—Nov. 29: closed

Before calling, individuals are encouraged to review the University’s official coronavirus information website to see if their questions are answered there. The site includes links to Penn State COVID-19 resources, as well as a comprehensive list of COVID-19 FAQs for students and families, faculty and staff, and members of campus communities. The University’s “Back to State” webpage also includes a variety of information for students and families and employees.

For direct support, in lieu of calling the COVID-19 Response Center:

— Students who are concerned about COVID-19 exposure or who are experiencing symptoms are urged to utilize the University’s health care resources to seek out testing and facilitate contact tracing. At University Park, students can schedule an appointment with University Health Services via myUHS. Other COVID-19-related services can be found on the UHS website. Campus students should contact their campus’ health care services to schedule an appointment. Students can learn more about COVID-19 testing options at University Park online.

— Penn State employees with human resources-related questions can call Human Resources Shared Services directly at 814-865-1473 or select option 1 when calling the Penn State COVID Response Center. That office’s hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls received outside those hours (directly or via the COVID Response Center) will be directed to an online inquiry system (WorkLion) that is monitored.

— Individuals with questions about the University’s technical systems or operations related to COVID-19 can call Penn State Technical Support directly at 814-865-4357 (HELP) at any time.

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Latest News

Stay up to date with the latest coronavirus-related news from Penn State.
11/24: COVID-19 dashboard updated with results from departure, weekend testing

More than 17,500 students University-wide completed COVID-19 testing prior to Thanksgiving break

Resources available as University shifts to remote instruction

COVID testing continues to be available; Students reminded of virtual resources for remote learning, health and wellness, and staying connected

How does the Nov. 17 Pennsylvania Department of Health order impact my travel?

Commonwealth travel, enhanced masking mandates in effect until further notice

For students

Key information and resources for students and families.

For faculty and staff

Key information and resources for faculty and staff.