Campus visitors, meetings and events, and tours

Penn State’s strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to limit the density of its on-campus population to help reduce contacts and limit the spread of the virus. The University has instead focused on maintaining critical activities that could continue to be performed in person, such as some classes, student support functions, and essential research work. As more individuals receive COVID-19 vaccines and as Penn State prepares to transition to a full on-campus learning environment for the fall semester, the University has provided updated guidelines for engaging with visitors and scheduling in-person meetings and events.

Inviting visitors to campus

With Penn State preparing for a return to a full in-person campus environment for the fall 2021 semester, and with the summer serving as a period of transition, the University has provided updated guidance about inviting visitors to campus during the summer months, including guidelines for individual visitors, group events, employee travel between campuses and hiring. Units inviting visitors to campus should continue to evaluate whether remote options are available, as well as continue to follow all health and safety guidelines.

Employees or student organizations wishing to have a non-employee or non-student visit campus for any period of time must make a request to their unit executive. The visitor should not meet the definition of a Visiting Scholar (guidance about Visiting Scholars is available here). Examples of visitors include, but are not limited to, those wishing to audit a class, those wishing to participate in a meeting in person, invited speakers, guest lecturers/speakers in a class, or research collaborators making a short-term visit. The request to the unit executive should include where the visitor is traveling from, why the interaction cannot take place virtually, and the length of the proposed visit.

When reviewing requests, unit executives should give attention to the locations from which visitors are traveling and the COVID-19 rates in those locations. Acknowledgments of risk may be utilized to communicate the institution’s expectations regarding COVID-19 and require visitors or participants to agree to follow safety protocols. Administrators may consider consulting with Risk Management and the Office of General Counsel regarding their in-person or other programming.

Individual visitors still bear responsibility for adhering to guidelines and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during travel and while on campus, including wearing masks and physical distancing. A visitor or participant’s vaccination status does not impact their obligation to adhere to these guidelines; however, visitors should consider and evaluate how their own vaccination status impacts the level of risk they are comfortable accepting before visiting campus.

Students are reminded that guests also are not allowed in any on-campus residence hall, due to COVID-19 safety rules.

In-person meetings, events and gatherings

At this time, the University continues to strongly encourage groups to host virtual meetings and events whenever possible.

All meetings, events and gatherings with more than 10 participants require University approval. Meetings, events and gatherings with 10 or fewer total participants — including all of those who are present, such as employees working at the event — do not need prior permission. Regardless of event size, face masks and physical distancing continue to be required for all, and occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor venues must be followed.

For Penn State units and organizations seeking to host an event or gathering, approval must be granted from the unit executive. For student organizations and student-run events, permission will need to be sought by the Office of Student Activities at the University Park campus, or the campus chancellor’s office at Commonwealth Campuses.

More information about the approval process is available here.

Event organizers must develop and submit a detailed program safety plan, which includes:

  • A communications plan for attendees and participants that outlines all safety protocols and expectations.

  • A pre-event COVID-19 screening process for participants and attendees.

  • Details on how the program will disseminate specific COVID-19 spread and prevention information.

  • How the event will adhere to all local and state COVID-19 guidelines, as well as Penn State requirements.

  • Safety logistics, including cleaning and disinfecting high-contact surfaces; distribution of hand-sanitizer stations and other personal protective equipment and supplies; foot-traffic flow; transportation considerations; and adherence to state and local occupancy limits.

The University has created the following planning resources, including guidance for safely holding events and gatherings, the approval process for events and gatherings, and acknowledgement documents for organizers and attendees:


Organizers also must follow all existing COVID-19 safety procedures as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania Department of Health, the University’s COVID-19 website and Penn State’s Return to Work website.

Campus tours and information sessions

Due to University efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of current students, faculty and staff, Penn State is only offering a limited number of on-campus tours at this time. Campus visits require pre-registration, are subject to availability, and all COVID-19 safety protocols must be followed. Click here to learn more about visit opportunities for each campus. At University Park, limited on-campus tours are being offered in June. Tours of University Park will be available in July and August, but registration is not yet open.

Prospective and admitted students who are currently unable to visit in person are encouraged to experience Penn State online by registering for virtual visits and appointments, watching presentations, taking virtual tours, connecting with their campus of interest, and more.

Individual questions about the admissions process can be directed to admissions@psu.edu or 1-814-865-5471. For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions, visit Undergraduate Admissions online.

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