Guidance has been updated and released to inform faculty and instructors of on-campus work expectations and the work adjustments process for spring 2022. A document describing the work adjustment process and criteria is available here. Faculty with an approved work adjustment for fall 2021 may apply for an extension of their work adjustment to spring 2022 here. Faculty who do not currently have a work adjustment can request a work adjustment for spring 2022 here. The deadline to apply for a spring semester work adjustment is Oct. 29.

While there have been processes in place since early in the pandemic for accommodating COVID-19 absences, a committee composed of faculty and administrators from across the University has generated a new guidance document to assist academic unit heads in planning for instances of extended faculty absences or multiple student absences in a single class.

Instructors may encounter situations when the instructor, a student or multiple students need to be absent for an extended time for reasons related to COVID-19, like quarantine or isolation. Such issues may strain unit instruction capacity or complicate course delivery, further generating questions on how to proceed.

Units across the University have put forth great efforts and found creative solutions to meet departmental needs for maintaining an optimal learning environment during such challenges. The new guidance aims to assist unit heads in their continued efforts of managing and supporting contingency planning for their faculty and instructors.

More information on the guidance is available via the Keep Teaching.

At University Park, nearly 94% of course sections for fall — 13,973 out of 14,903 course sections — are expected to be delivered as in-person classes.

In comparison, during a typical, non-pandemic fall semester, the University Park campus offers approximately 15,200 course sections with about 97% of those sections taught in person.

Penn State in June opened a faculty work adjustment request process for instructors who are immunocompromised or live with someone who is immunocompromised, instructors with children who are unvaccinated and are at high risk for complications from COVID-19, and instructors who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated. Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, the University reopened the process for faculty work adjustment requests for an additional week from Aug. 5 to 12.

Over the two work adjustment request periods, 149 requests were approved at University Park, leading to about 165 courses — or 1.1% of all University Park courses — being moved to remote delivery for the semester.

Students and their families should also know that as part of a longstanding University policy, instructors are permitted to offer up to 24% of any in-person class via remote instruction. This flexibility enables faculty members to use innovative pedagogies that incorporate digital learning and to manage potential absences due to illness or health concerns, travel or other unavoidable circumstances.

Penn State officials diligently monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, including the spread of the Delta variant and rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and within Pennsylvania. The University will continue to adjust its plans as circumstances change and will share any changes to the current guidance as appropriate with the community.

With the University providing a fully in-person experience this fall, most courses will not have a standing remote participation option. 

Students who test positive and need to enter isolation, as well as students who need to quarantine because of a possible exposure to COVID-19, will be encouraged to reach out to their course faculty. While students will be expected to contact their instructors and make every effort to work with the instructor to complete the work and stay on track, faculty are encouraged to work with students to the extent possible, given the challenging circumstances. Additionally, faculty should receive a message from Student Support Services whenever a student must be absent from class to quarantine or isolate. Academic advisers will also be alerted when one of their advisees must miss classes due to quarantine or isolation and students are encouraged to reach out to their advisers for assistance. Student Affairs will be providing support to these students and may be in touch with faculty to assist with the coordination necessary to encourage continued academic progress for these students. For students who are unable to attend class because of quarantine or isolation requirements, faculty have many options for meeting their needs.

Per University Faculty Senate policy 42-27, instructors should work with students to provide, within reason, an opportunity to make up work that they have missed, recognizing that not all work can be made up. Many of the tools that have been used during the last year may assist in helping students continue learning while temporarily absent. Providing live lecture-streaming or recorded lectures, though not required, can be useful in supporting absent students; these are also great examples of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in that they can support a variety of students beyond those who are absent (e.g., English language learners, those with undisclosed learning disabilities, etc.). It is important to emphasize that while the creation of these materials is good practice, they should be temporary and not used to provide fully remote instruction to students for an entire semester, as it creates reporting and regulatory issues, especially for international students.

Due to federal laws (HIPAA), faculty should not ask the COVID-19 testing status of students, as faculty are not responsible for monitoring or enforcing testing requirements. Learn more about testing information here.

Faculty who are teaching will receive an email from studentsupportservices@psu.edu if one of their students is in quarantine or isolation, including information on when the student may return to the classroom. CDC guidelines and University testing procedures may permit students to leave isolation and quarantine earlier than expected if specific criteria are met. Faculty will be notified a second time if their student is permitted to leave quarantine or isolation earlier than previously communicated; however, there may be a slight delay in that process as contact tracers notify Student Support Services, which in turn will notify the faculty member of the change. If the student attends class in person before the end of the quarantine or isolation period that was communicated to the faculty member, it may be because the student tested out. However, if a student attends an in-person class before they complete their quarantine or isolation period without having tested out, then a referral should be made to the Office of Student Conduct.

Detailed information and guidance on inviting visitors to campus is available on the campus visitors, meetings and events, and tours page.