Will Penn State be testing students and employees for coronavirus?
The University is employing strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community and national levels.
Penn State will be implementing a robust COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program that will consist of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.
The University will conduct surveillance testing of faculty, staff and students on its campuses throughout the semester, testing about 1% of our campus populations (about 700 people) per day. The plan includes random and risk-stratified surveillance testing as well as asymptomatic testing for individuals who are identified in the contact-tracing process.
Penn State is in the process of signing contracts with COVID-19 testing companies, including Vault Health, for elements of the testing plan. Additionally, the University has set up on-campus testing capabilities using existing resources in a new Testing and Surveillance Center, which will be used for surveillance testing at University Park.
Penn State will hire additional staff to serve as contact tracers as needed to support all campuses and plans to enhance access to early health-care consultation and treatment. Contact-tracing supports virus case detection and is designed to help prevent future outbreaks. The University also is building capacity to isolate and quarantine individuals who test positive, including support for isolated persons, to facilitate proper medical care.
More detailed information about symptomatic and asymptomatic testing may be found in this Penn State News story.
What does the University’s contact tracing plan entail?
The University is employing strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community and national levels.
The Penn State contact tracing program will leverage and scale-up existing contact tracing protocols in place at the University. The spoke-and-hub modeled program will be run by the Office of Student Affairs, with representation from Commonwealth Campuses, and will include consistent oversight for all students, faculty and staff. The team of Student Affairs personnel, nurses and contact tracers will support the University community and enhance access to early health-care consultation and treatment. Contact-tracing supports virus case detection and is designed to help prevent future outbreaks.
More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.
What are the pre-arrival requirements for students?
The University has developed requirements for students to meet prior to returning to campus and local communities this fall semester. Before returning to Penn State, all undergraduate and graduate students at every campus location must:
—Read and sign the new required “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” that outlines expectations for the semester.
—Complete mandatory pre-arrival COVID-19 testing, if notified. Select students living in counties across the United States with high infection rates will be contacted by the University on an individual basis in August to complete mandatory testing.
—Self-quarantine for at least 7 days immediately prior to arrival.
—Review Penn State and local requirements for masking and social distancing.
Students who are already living on campus or have moved in to off-campus housing should also complete these steps before the start of classes.
To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, students, employees and visitors are required to practice social physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wear face masks/coverings at all times in campus buildings; outdoors when they cannot be physically distant from others; and whenever state or local laws require.
For more information about these pre-arrival requirements, read this story in Penn State News.
How will I know if I need to complete mandatory pre-arrival testing?
As part of the University’s comprehensive pre-arrival, asymptomatic and symptomatic testing and contact tracing strategy, in August, Penn State will contact 30,000 students, faculty and staff who have been chosen for mandatory pre-arrival COVID-19 testing, based solely on the infection rates in the counties where they reside.
Individuals living in coronavirus “hot spots,” or areas with high or rising virus rates, will receive an email notification from the University with a unique test code and step-by-step instructions for an at-home COVID-19 saliva test, to be supervised by the vendor virtually, that will be sent through the mail overnight.
Students are required to complete the test before returning to campus, moving into on-campus residence halls or beginning classes. Test results will be shared with the student and University Health Services.Those who test positive should not travel to campus until they are cleared to come to campus by a health care provider in accordance with CDC guidance.
All students, including those not selected for mandatory pre-arrival testing, must self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus.
For more information about pre-arrival testing and other pre-arrival requirements for students, read this story in Penn State News.
Will there be a mandatory quarantine before coming back to campus?
All students must self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus. In addition, those who are sick, think you have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing symptoms, should continue to isolate and not return to campus until cleared by a medical professional. It is in everyone’s best interest that students arrive after taking precautionary steps, to reduce the likelihood of community exposure. People in quarantine should .
Additional guidelines for everyone in the Penn State community include:
—If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is suspicious of COVID-19, do not return to your Penn State campus. See your health care provider and get a COVID-19 test. Only travel to campus after you have been cleared by your health care provider, following CDC guidelines.
—All faculty, staff and students should self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus.
—Take every precaution in your travel to your Penn State campus to prevent introduction of COVID-19 to your campus community. If you are using any form of public transportation, follow all CDC guidelines regarding masking, physical distancing and hygiene practices.
—Individuals who have been recently tested as COVID positive should not travel to campus until they are cleared.
What will the on-campus dining experience be like this fall?
Although in-person dining will be available, it will be limited throughout the fall semester, with tables physically distanced and chairs removed in order to promote a safer eating environment for diners and workers in accordance with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines. Residential Dining has put in place enhanced protocols including — but not limited to — the use of masks by all guests and staff; increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms using an EPA-approved disinfectant; additional hand sanitizer stations; installation of Plexiglas in key areas; elimination of self-service options (such as beverages, condiments, etc.); and self-swipe card payments. All items will be served in disposable containers with pre-packaged silverware, condiments and beverages.
Students will actually see more choices and more service styles available than have been offered in previous years. This includes a new mobile ordering and pickup option, and Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations.
Penn State will also be offering additional seating outdoors at University Park campus and other campuses.
Additional information on Residential Dining’s plans for fall can be found here.