Working on Campus

As the national vaccination campaign continues to advance, Penn State is announcing plans for a phased return to on-campus work over the summer for Penn State employees, including a full return of staff and faculty to on-site work and instruction in fall 2021.

Informed by University, state and federal guidance, this page is dedicated to providing the latest information about Penn State’s plans to transition back to in-person work, and will be updated regularly.

Penn State's plans for summer and fall

As the national vaccination campaign continues to advance, Penn State is announcing plans for a phased return to on-campus work over the summer for Penn State employees, including a full return of staff and faculty to on-site work and instruction in fall 2021. All plans continue to evolve based on federal and state guidelines and include employee health and safety as the top priority.

Beginning in fall 2021 and consistent with pre-pandemic curriculum needs, schedules and practices, the University expects faculty to provide in-person rather than remote instruction for the start of classes on Aug. 23.

For now, remote work for staff continues where possible, however, the University’s Staff Transition Strategy Guidance outlines a path for units to return additional staff to on-site work during the summer and plans for a full return of staff to on-site work by Aug. 16.

Staff that need to continue remote working arrangements should visit the “Fall 2021 Process for Return to Work On-site for Staff.”

For additional information, please visit the Human Resources website.

Employee on-site work may need to be staggered in order to comply with these guidelines, which are dependent on state guidance.

It is critical that all employees monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms daily before coming on campus to work and, if they are symptomatic, stay home and follow the University’s COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Employees must follow all public health guidelines to limit the potential for virus transmission.

Faculty guidance

The pandemic temporarily altered expectations regarding in-person instruction and other on-campus work by faculty and instructors beginning in spring 2020. As a result, the University implemented COVID instructional modes that provided a range of instructional options for courses during the course of the year and into 2021.

Beginning the first day of classes for fall 2021, and consistent with the transition strategy and pre-pandemic curriculum needs, schedules and practices, the University expects faculty to provide in-person rather than remote instruction. Learn more about Penn State's transition strategy here. The transition strategy is informed by health and safety guidance issued by the state of Pennsylvania and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and incorporates necessary flexibilities due to the changing situation of the pandemic.

Faculty exceptions

If a faculty member or a household member of the faculty member has a health condition that they believe precludes them from teaching in person in fall semester 2021, then they should complete the Faculty Work Adjustment Request Form and send it to their unit Human Resources Strategic Partner.

For more information on the adjustments process, please visit the adjustments process guidance.

Faculty members who are approved by the unit for a work adjustment may not teach or work remotely from another country. Faculty members with documented disabilities still may request reasonable accommodations under the ADA by contacting the University’s ADA Coordinator. For more information, please visit the faculty guidance page.

Staff guidance

The pandemic temporarily altered expectations regarding in-person work by staff beginning in spring 2020. As a result, the University implemented COVID work from home policies for the remainder of 2020, as well as spring 2021.

Beginning in fall 2021 and in accordance with Penn State’s transition strategy, the University expects staff to return to in-person work by Aug. 16. Learn more about Penn State's transition strategy here. The transition strategy is informed by health and safety guidance issued by the state of Pennsylvania and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and incorporates necessary flexibilities due to the changing situation of the pandemic.

Staff exceptions

Staff members who need to continue remote work during the fall may make a request to their supervisor to continue remote work on an interim basis for fall 2021. The supervisor will evaluate the request using specific criteria and after supervisor review, unit executives and human resources strategic partners will give final approval. Additionally, employees with documented disabilities may still request reasonable accommodations under the ADA by contacting the University’s ADA Coordinator.

For additional information, please visit the Human Resources website.

Research on campus

Penn State is committed to providing the safest possible environment for our researchers to continue their critical work. On-campus research is continuing in accordance with established safety procedures. The Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with the vice dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Medicine, has provided guidance and protocols for safely conducting on-campus research activities.

During the pandemic, research-related activities that can be conducted remotely should continue in that manner when possible, and all researchers and units must have a responsive plan for conducting research safely. Environmental Health and Safety has also provided guidance for the proper cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch work areas and equipment in laboratory and research settings.

Cleaning and disinfecting

Many of the health and safety measures that have been put in place during the pandemic will continue for summer 2021 as the University begins its transition to fully on-site operations in fall 2021. Penn State will continue to align with CDC guidance for the cleaning and disinfecting of our facilities , including classrooms and other on-campus spaces. The Office of Physical Plant (OPP) cleaning guidance is available on the EHS COVID-19 website for Cleaning Resources and will be updated as recommendations and expectations from the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health continue to evolve.

Units also have protocols and schedules to clean and/or disinfect high-touch surfaces and shared equipment within their areas and offices. As part of these efforts, employees should avoid sharing tools and equipment as much as possible. Supervisors should stagger shifts, if possible, for high-use shared equipment and establish cleaning protocols between uses. Individual employees also are responsible for helping to maintain a clean work environment for themselves and others by cleaning and disinfecting desks, equipment, and materials before and after use.

More information about cleaning protocols is available on the University’s Environmental Health and Safety website.

Instructional spaces

At this time, masking outdoors and physical distancing are not required. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear face masks indoors, however, individuals who are not fully vaccinated are expected to wear face masks inside University buildings. While classrooms will begin to be reconfigured on June 28, students who are not vaccinated will continue to have to wear masks. Employees who are not vaccinated are also expected to continue to wear masks inside campus buildings.

Masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) are available to all faculty teaching in-person classes. Guidance on PPE use and other health and safety considerations in classroom and laboratory spaces is available on the Keep Teaching website. The University will provide updates for this guidance as the CDC and PA Department of Education requirements and expectations continue to evolve.

The Office of Student Conduct also has developed two guidance documents to help faculty and staff members address situations when students do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements in Penn State instructional spaces and offices. The Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs has provided similar guidance around violations of mask-wearing requirements by instructors and researchers in instructional and research settings.

Workplace safety

At this time, cloth masks are still expected to be worn by unvaccinated employees inside University buildings. Additionally, soap and hand-sanitizer stations, cleaning products and disinfecting wipes are available for all units to purchase through Penn State General Stores. The University also maintains several thousand hand-sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas on its campuses.

In accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Health requirements, each Penn State college, campus, institute, or research or administrative unit is required to designate a pandemic safety officer for each work location, such as a building or worksite, to respond to questions about the University’s COVID-19 safety plan requirements. The pandemic safety officer serves as a first level of contact to help implement unit-level COVID-19 safety plans and respond to questions and concerns raised by faculty and staff in their respective units. If individuals do not adhere to the University’s safety requirements, disciplinary measures will be elevated to the employee’s supervisor and human resources representative.

Human resources and employee information

​As of June 28, masks are optional inside University buildings for individuals who are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks indoors at all times. If you want someone to wear a mask when interacting with you in your private office, you can request they do so, but cannot require it. It is important to note that those who are visiting designated health care environments must continue to wear masks indoors and maintain physical distancing regardless of vaccination status.

In individual offices, staff members may post this sign if they wish to request that people entering wear a mask.

Students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccine information now into the MyUHS portal and are encouraged to do so as soon as their vaccine series is complete.

Employees and World Campus students can provide their vaccination status to the University using SalesForce Health Cloud, a secure online platform for collecting health data.

Your vaccine status is only available to University personnel directly involved in the COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts and to public health officials.

If you want to participate in the weekly drawings for vaccine incentive prizes, you must also complete an online form to become eligible for the incentive program. Weekly drawings will be held through August 23 for the following prizes, which are subject to taxes:

  • $1,000 payment
  • $100 gift card to Barnes & Noble (four winners per week)
  • a football signed by Penn State Football coach James Franklin

Yes, unvaccinated individuals who have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive or suspected of having COVID-19 must quarantine for 7 to 10 days. They must quarantine for 10 days without testing if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring, or after seven days with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine and if they have no symptoms.

No. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated individuals do not have to be tested or quarantine but should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days. If symptoms develop, employees should contact their personal health care provider.

Yes. Supervisors may ask about an employee’s vaccination status for adherence to current University masking protocols. Supervisors are not to take proof of vaccination, rather employees are encouraged to confirm their vaccination status via Salesforce Health Cloud. Supervisors are not to ask questions specific to reasons behind receiving or not receiving the vaccination.  If supervisors or employees should have any questions, they should contact their unit HR. Technical services employees and other employees represented by a collective bargaining agreement should check with their unit HR to determine if there are other requirements applicable to them.

Learn More

Faculty and staff

Explore

Travel guidelines

Explore

Commonwealth Campus resources

Explore