As of April 13, all Pennsylvania adults are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to sign up to get the first vaccine available to them as soon as a dose is available. The Department of Health website features a map of vaccine providers that includes hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

Penn State was allotted nearly $85 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II as part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), which was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. As prescribed by law, at least $27.5 million of Penn State’s allocation will be awarded to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants, matching the dollar amount Penn State students received last year under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Penn State will again distribute the student grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University will award grants to more than 23,000 students. These first-round grants prioritize students with exceptional financial need, as required by the CRRSAA, based on data from the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who are Pell Grant-eligible will each be offered $1,200, and all other students identified for an award will be offered $1,000 each.

The University also will award grants via a second round of funding that will use an application process to support students in need who were not identified to receive funding during the first round. Details about this application-based second round of funding will be shared broadly in the near future.

At University Park, random tests are processed at the on-campus Testing and Surveillance Center (TASC) Lab and at Commonwealth Campuses, tests are processed off campus in Vault Health labs. Results from random testing will be available to individuals approximately 24 to 48 hours after the tests are received at the lab for processingResults will be emailed to your Penn State email address.

The University will continue to follow all virus mitigation guidelines from local, state and federal government and public health authorities. During the summer semester, residence hall occupancy will continue to be limited to two occupants per room, and to the extent possible, single rooms will be provided to students who are immunocompromised or at higher health risk. Information on residence halls and the arrival schedule for the fall semester will be communicated closer to the fall semester.

The University’s priorities continue to be the health and well-being of its students, faculty, staff and local communities, and the plans for substantially expanded in-person classes have the flexibility built in to quickly respond to changing pandemic conditions, if necessary. Penn State is committed to notifying students, faculty and staff as quickly as possible if conditions require the University to pivot to a remote or hybrid teaching and learning model.

The University will continue to follow all virus mitigation guidelines from local, state and federal government and public health authorities. Testing will continue to be available under the University’s spring testing plan through May. More information on the testing strategy for the summer and fall will be communicated as the testing plans are finalized. It will continue to evolve as circumstances warrant and capabilities are enhanced.

As Penn State’s priority is the health and well-being of its students, employees and local communities, the University is preparing for a variety of scenarios if circumstances or guidance from the government and public health authorities requires a reassessment of the plan before the start of the summer and/or fall semesters. Expanded in-person learning is contingent on the latest health and safety guidelines, including physical distancing requirements, as they are adjusted over the summer and fall in response to the state of the pandemic.

The health and safety of our employees remains our priority, and the University is mindful that individual circumstances may make some faculty members or members of their household more vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Our expectation is that faculty members who are able to teach in person will return to the classroom, but a committee is currently being formed to define the exception process.

At this time, employees who are currently working from home should plan on continuing to do so through at least the spring semester. Penn State’s Return to Work Task Group is reconvening to discuss employee guidelines and outcomes for future semesters, and more guidance will be forthcoming for the summer and fall.

All COVID-19 testing data are stored in software/databases that are approved for this level of information, per Penn State’s Information Assurance and IT Security Policy (AD95) and Privacy Policy (AD53), and in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws. Testing data are only shared to inform individuals of their status, and as necessary to accomplish legitimate business purposes/needs, including, but not limited to, diagnostics, treatment, contact tracing, and public health and safety activities.

Vaccination does not exempt students, faculty and staff members from participating in the University’s COVID-19 testing programs this spring. The vaccine is a tool in our fight against COVID-19, and students and employees must continue to practice other mitigation efforts, like wearing a mask, hand-washing and physical distancing. Find additional information about vaccines on Penn State's vaccine information page.

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 contacttracing@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.

Faculty, staff members, students and families across all Penn State campuses can call the Penn State COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121. The center’s normal hours of operation (all Eastern Time) are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Before calling, individuals are encouraged to review the University’s official coronavirus information website to see if their questions are answered there. The site includes links to Penn State COVID-19 resources, as well as a comprehensive list of COVID-19 FAQs for students and families, faculty and staff, and members of campus communities.

Click here for more information about the Penn State COVID-19 Response Center.

By following University and CDC guidelines for masking, social distancing and hand hygiene, students can have a direct impact in mitigating the potential for the virus’ spread. Students are asked to take personal responsibility both on and off campus, as agreed to in the Penn State COVID-19 Compact, to help uphold the health of the community by following University guidelines.

Mask wearing and social distancing is required in class and there is guidance available to help maintain a safe classroom environment. Classroom Guidance for Instructors is posted on the website of the Office of Student Conduct. This document describes steps faculty can take to provide a positive learning environment and manage COVID-related concerns in the classroom and includes steps that faculty can take if a student fails to adhere to health and safety requirements. For more information on how to manage classrooms, watch this video featuring Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

Instructors and faculty should first ask any unmasked or non-socially distant students to comply. When students fail to comply in the classroom, faculty members can refer students to the Office of Student Conduct, or call 814-863-0342, and students will not be allowed to return to class until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process. Additionally, if a faculty member should become aware of a COVID-19 related violation, a referral may be made to the Office of Student Conduct. Faculty do have the authority to, and will be supported in, asking non-compliant students to leave class.

Similarly, Penn State staff should report student violations of COVID-19 safety requirements within office settings to the Office of Student Conduct, which has posted COVID-19 Office Guidance on its website.

For now, we are strongly encouraging everyone in our community to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and a dose is available. We are continuing to monitor developments and vaccine availability carefully and may alter our approach in the future if it is determined to be in the best interest of our community or called for by public policy. More information will be forthcoming through the Pennsylvania Department of Health (which is overseeing the vaccine distribution) and the University, and as we weigh the pandemic’s continuing impact on our communities. To learn more, visit the Vaccine Information page.

As of April 13, all Pennsylvania adults are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to sign up to get the first vaccine available to them as soon as a dose is available. The Department of Health website features a map of vaccine providers that includes hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

Limiting the density of our on-campus population reduces the chances of incidental contact that spreads illness. To further reduce the chances of exposure, we have developed protocols to limit public access to campus buildings. Units are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with visitors remotely whenever possible. Click here for full guidance on bringing visitors to campus, including guidelines for individual visitors, group events, employee travel between campuses and hiring.

Employees wishing to have a non-employee visit campus for any period of time must first make a request to their unit executive and are strongly encouraged to consult with Risk Management and the Office of General Counsel prior to the visit. These individuals may 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.

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

Visitors must comply with all COVID-19 health and safety guidelines during travel and while on campus. An individual’s vaccine status does not impact their obligation to adhere to these guidelines.

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 also 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:

Events and gathering guidance

Approval process for events and gatherings

Penn State COVID acknowledgements

COVID acknowledgements for third-party organizations

Organizers 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.