The University expects students to self-monitor their health, including for example by taking their temperature before going to class or campus. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it is only one of the potential symptoms individuals may have. Individuals with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and reach out to their health care provider.

The University has launched a COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app as another resource in which all members of the University community are strongly encouraged to check symptoms they may be having and receive instructions for how to proceed. The app also will contain updated information about CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health resources and helpful information, such as dining arrangements.

In addition, students, faculty and staff are urged to download and use the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s COVID Alert PA app to assist with early detection of possible COVID-19 exposure. Learn more about the COVID Alert PA app in this Penn State News article.

To support the health and safety of the University and surrounding communities, spring break will not take place during the spring 2021 semester, and classes will be held, to reduce travel and limit the possible spread of the virus into our campus communities and beyond. During the semester, students should avoid travel and not invite visitors to campus or to stay with them in off-campus housing. In lieu of spring break, Penn State has announced plans to hold three non-instructional wellness days to support the mental well-being of students, faculty and staff.

We are dedicated to supporting students who are immunocompromised or at-risk and helping them to identify and develop appropriate accommodations, for both on-campus housing and academic needs. Students in need of housing assistance can contact their campus’ Housing and Food Services. Students in need of academic assistance should reach out to their college or campus advising office.

For students who are unable to return to any campus, there are flexible options for semester planning so that they can continue to make progress toward their degrees.

The health of the Penn State community is our top priority, and we must all do our part in preventing the possible spread of coronavirus. Faculty are expected to be flexible in their interpretation of class attendance policies. Sick students are expected to stay home and call their health care provider. In-residence courses will be delivered in a flexible format to allow students who miss class due to quarantine or illness to continue to make critical academic progress. Additional information on what to do if you feel sick is available on the Health Guidelines page.

In the event of a change in normal campus operations due to weather, instructors teaching in any mode of instruction may opt to deliver instruction asynchronously. When a change in normal campus operations due to weather or other local emergency circumstances occurs, students, faculty and instructors may not have the same access to University facilities and resources and may have other commitments such as child care.

— COVID In-Person (CP) courses may not be moved to a synchronous online meeting per Faculty Senate policy. In the event of a change in normal campus operations, the instructor can choose to offer content asynchronously or may cancel class altogether.

— Because there are differences in how Hybrid/COVID Mixed-Mode (CM) courses are structured, instructors need to specify in their syllabi how class content will be delivered.

— COVID Remote (CR) courses may continue to meet remote synchronously at the usual time, or the instructor may choose to offer content asynchronously or cancel class altogether.

— Web and COVID Remote Asynchronous (CW) courses will continue with no changes.

More information is available in this document.

To protect the integrity of exams and other assessments, instructors may require students to turn on their webcams in order to monitor the assessment. Visit the Use of Webcams page on Penn State's Keep Teaching (faculty) and Keep Learning (students) websites for more information about webcam usage during exams and assessments. 

Outside of exams and assessments, faculty should adopt a camera-optional practice for teaching through Zoom. A camera-optional approach respects student issues such as access and equity (some may not have cameras on their devices), safety and security (some may be deployed military or in need of safety or privacy), and religious strictures. Faculty members who previously did not take attendance in their in-person classrooms should continue to respect that their students will attend remotely. Faculty who took attendance previously should explore manual and automatic options for taking attendance through Zoom. For help with these options, visit Penn State’s Keep Teaching website. If a faculty member chooses to record a Zoom session, recorded student participation during the session should not be required. Other forms of participation, e.g., private chat, can be required and assessed. Students should be provided the choice to opt out from identification in the recording by muting their audio, disabling video and not typing public chats.

There are no additional COVID-19 testing requirements for conducting on-campus research. Students must have a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to campus as part of their return for the spring 2021 semester. However, there are no additional test requirements for entering research facilities.

All students, including students who remained on campus or in their campus communities during the semester break, are required to complete pre-arrival testing before returning to campus for any activity, including lab or studio work. It is appropriate for a lab or studio leader to be clear about the expectation that the student complete the required testing and ask whether the student has completed the testing; however, a lab or studio leader should not ask for a test result. If a student tests positive, then supervisors will be notified as part of Penn State’s contact tracing process.

To provide an uninterrupted educational experience for students, all classes will be delivered remotely beginning Jan. 19 and continue through Feb. 12. Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be observed on Jan. 18, and there will be no classes that day. At this time, classes will transition to their regularly scheduled mode and resume across all campus locations on Feb. 15, though this date could change based on health and safety factors and guidance from the state. As currently scheduled, the 15-week semester will end on April 30, with finals week following from May 3-7. There will be no spring break week to reduce travel and limit the spread of the virus into our campus communities.

Additional details about the spring 2021 semester are available in this Penn State News story.