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.

All COVID-19 testing data is 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 is 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.

Yes. To celebrate the accomplishments of all graduates, we want to make it accessible to family and friends and to provide options for students and families who prefer a virtual format.

In-person options are being explored for University Park and Commonwealth Campuses. If in-person ceremonies are pursued, Commonwealth Campuses will consider hosting outdoor events on their campuses, or within their campus communities, in line with regulations for gatherings.

The College of Medicine is independently working to create commencement options that are safe. A committee has been developed to start evaluating options that will be best for our students. While safety is of utmost concern, virtual and in-person options are being evaluated and more details will be shared in the coming months.

Penn State Law and Penn State Dickinson Law host their own spring commencement ceremonies to recognize their graduates. No specific plans or announcements have been made yet regarding these ceremonies. These programs will communicate directly with their graduates regarding their plans.

The University is working through many considerations in planning for potential in-person ceremonies across our campuses, including if guests will be possible and if so, what the capacity limits may be. For example, the current Pennsylvania Department of Health regulations permit physically distanced gatherings of up to 2,500 individuals outdoors, thus if we can proceed, all attendance must follow these guidelines, along with other requirements necessitated by the pandemic. Plans and decision-making will be driven by the health and safety of students, their families, and campus communities, along with federal, state and local guidelines for gatherings. Penn State plans to be able to provide more information in March.

Given ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all decisions and plans will be made with the health and safety of students, their families, and campus communities as the priority and in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines for gatherings. Any potential in-person ceremonies will likely take place outdoors, rain or shine, while still offering a virtual option. The format may be structured differently than previous ceremonies, be smaller in size based on gathering limitations, have strict limitations on the number of guests, and occur over a set of dates extending beyond the length of a typical single graduation weekend.

The University plans to provide more specific information in March to give students and families time to make plans. Before making a final decision, we need to progress further into the semester and then assess conditions with the pandemic. More information about spring commencement is available in this Penn State News story.

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.

Additional information about the vaccine is available in this Penn State News article.

The sampling rate for random testing, which is between 1% and 2%, is calculated at the campus level and is based on the total number of employees in the return to work database and the total number of students that have an in-person component to their academic schedule or are living within 20 miles of campus.

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.

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidelines, wearing face masks and adhering to physical distancing practices, including maintaining six feet of physical distance between another person, are critical components in helping to maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community. Students, employees and visitors are required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks/coverings at all times in campus buildings; outdoors when they cannot be physically distant from others; and whenever state or local laws require.

Additional information about masking and physical distancing is available on the Health Guidelines page.

Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor Penn State is requiring the use of a double mask. CDC guidance suggests double masking as a means to improve how individuals can wear their masks. It is important to note, however, that you should not combine two disposable masks or double up on masks if it feels suffocating or difficult to breathe. Individuals seeking means to improve their mask performance can refer to CDC guidance for important ways to make sure your mask works the best it can.

Students, employees and visitors to Penn State are required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks/coverings on campus. Multi-layer cloth masks or procedure masks are the preferred type of face covering in campus buildings, outdoors and whenever state or local laws require. All face coverings must cover the nose and chin. According to the CDC, masks should have two or more layers of washable fabric, completely cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face.

Face coverings to avoid

Masks with exhaust valves are not acceptable. This is because valves allow air and respiratory droplets to escape the mask, which results in less protection for others. Those who are wearing a mask with a valve do not meet Penn State’s mask wearing requirements.

There also is evidence that single-layer face coverings, including many types of neck gaiters, are not as effective in stopping respiratory droplets as multi-layer face coverings.


The CDC also notes that reusable masks should be washed regularly. Reusable masks can be washed individually or with the rest of your laundry with regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the material used to make the cloth mask. The mask is ready to be worn again when it is completely dry.

More about masking

Guidelines surrounding the use of cloth masks are available on the EHS website and also on the University’s health guidelines page.

It is critical to note that a cloth face mask is NOT a substitute for physical distancing. Individuals should stay at least six feet away from others at all times. Keeping space between you and others is one of the effective ways to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it’s important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms.

To help keep students and employees healthy, the Office of Physical Plant is taking a multi-pronged approach to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, labs, offices, restrooms, residence halls and other indoor spaces. This includes increased cleaning and disinfecting of buildings and high-touch surfaces. All desks, podiums, doorknobs, elevators, restrooms and other high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected daily with EPA-approved disinfectants.

OPP also has placed additional hand-sanitizing stations at building entrances and other common areas, installed plexiglass shields where warranted in areas of close personal contact, increased signage and reminders of health and safety requirements, and reduced occupancy limits for 1,700 instructional spaces.

In addition, units have cleaning protocols and schedules to disinfect high-touch surfaces and shared equipment within their areas and offices. Guidance is available on the Environmental Health and Safety website. 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 disinfection protocols between uses. Individual employees also will be 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.

From a building systems perspective, OPP has carefully evaluated all building mechanical and life safety systems to determine that they are fully functional and ready for occupancy, meeting or exceeding all of the building systems requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and undertaking intensive corrective and preventive maintenance for every building at every campus.

University Health Services (UHS) continues to take enhanced precautions and has implemented additional guidelines to help protect student health and safety. To learn more about how UHS is responding to the pandemic, view available services, or schedule an appointment, visit University Health Services online.

Violations of the University’s expectations for students or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). Specific policy guidance has been posted to the Office of Student Conduct website.

For violations in the residence halls, OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including loss of housing or separation from the University. It is important to note that any gathering exceeding residence hall restrictions (typically only two guests allowed per room) will be considered to be a serious violation and will likely result in a loss of housing, at minimum. Students should also be aware that guests from other residence halls are not permitted, and they may not visit other residence halls. In addition, as stated previously, visitors from other areas, universities, regions, etc. also are not permitted in the residence halls. This includes parents and family members. Violations of these expectations will be considered a serious violation.

For violations on or off campus, OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions, up to and including separation from the University. It is important to note that any large gathering in violation of local ordinances will be considered a serious violation and will likely result in a suspension.

Penn State is exploring options for potential in-person spring 2021 commencement ceremonies to recognize the many accomplishments of our graduates at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses. Of course, any in-person ceremony may look very different from past ones and will depend on health and safety guidelines and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic closer to May. The University will plan for an entirely virtual ceremony as an alternative option based on public health conditions. Penn State plans to be able to provide more information in March to give students and families time to make plans.

For commencement-related questions, email

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.

Penn State is conducting a randomized COVID-19 testing program to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 across all campuses. The University will perform daily random testing of between 1% and 2% of the University’s population of students and employees living, learning or working on campus as well as those who access campus. This includes all employees who are working on campus and students who are taking in-person classes or living within 20 miles of a campus. Except for Penn College, all Penn State campuses will be included, including Dickinson Law and College of Nursing and College of Medicine students at Hershey.

Students and employees who are learning, working or living on campus will be selected randomly and contacted by email and text message to answer a few screening questions and to schedule an appointment at University Park or to participate in their campus location’s specific random testing process. If selected, students and employees are required to complete the free testing and should plan to do so within 48-72 hours after being contacted.

Learn more about random testing on the Testing and Support page.

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.

As a result of University efforts to engage in physical distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all on-campus and off-campus visit programs are virtual.

Prospective students can engage with Penn State through virtual visits, watching presentations, taking virtual tours, connecting with your campus of interest, and more. Information is available at

Individual questions about the admissions process can be directed to or 1-814-865-5471. For additional information, visit

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.

As part of a flexible delivery model, all courses with enrollment over 250 at University Park and over 100 at a Commonwealth Campus will be delivered remotely, per federal and state guidance. Campuses and colleges will have the latitude to decide how best to deliver courses with smaller enrollments. To enable social distancing, as needed, desks and seating in classrooms will be marked if they should not be used. If they were not equipped already, all classrooms on campus are being equipped for remote instruction via Zoom and other technologies. More information for instructors related to the return to campus is available on Penn State’s Keep Teaching website.

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.

It is Penn State’s goal to make on-campus dining as comfortable and convenient as possible while maintaining the safety of our students and visitors.

Here are the steps we’re taking to meet those goals:

a. Capacity in campus dining facilities is limited, with seating and tables removed to promote physical distancing, in accordance with governmental mandates and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. Masking and physical distancing guidelines must be observed, along with posted occupancy restrictions. Eating is only permitted in posted, designated areas in dining commons buildings, residence halls and in a student’s residence hall room.

b. Mobile ordering and carryout options have been expanded to reduce patron wait times.

c. To enhance safety, the dining commons are not offering self-serve options, and menu selections have been streamlined to increase speed of service.

d. In addition, there is extensive and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces, and restroom spaces are cleaned at least two times each day; these restrooms have been configured to encourage distancing among users.

To help limit prolonged person-to-person contact, no residence hall room or space may be occupied by more than two residents. To the extent possible, single rooms will be provided to immunocompromised or at-risk students, or a student requesting one, although immunocompromised or at-risk students will receive priority consideration. Roommate requests also will be honored.

Residence hall bathrooms will be cleaned at least two times each day; masks are expected to be worn in bathrooms, except when showering or brushing teeth. General facility cleaning regimens will be based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American College Health Association, the Department of Health and others.

Residence Life will significantly modify its programming and interactions with students to minimize risks associated with transmission of the virus. Mask wearing and physical distancing requirements in the residence halls will be strictly enforced.

Seating will be substantially reduced in common areas and lounges to accommodate physical distancing. Occupancy in elevators will be limited, with individuals encouraged to use the stairs.

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.

With virtual ceremonies having served as the first step in recognizing the academic achievements of members of the Class of 2020 during this global pandemic, as we have previously shared, the University remains committed to inviting these recent graduates and their guests back for in-person gatherings. We are exploring when and how these may take place, bearing in mind that any gathering must adhere to all required guidelines. As plans are developed, more information will be shared with the Class of 2020, including graduates from spring, summer and fall, and posted to Penn State News and the University’s commencement website.

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.

At this time, the vaccine is not yet available to the general public. When vaccines do become widely available, Penn State strongly encourages participation as part of the effort to mitigate the long-term impact of COVID-19 on our campus communities. 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.

The University’s plans include an augmented testing strategy with required testing for all students prior to their arrival, post-arrival testing within the first two weeks of the semester for all students, on-demand testing for students and on-campus employees, and daily random testing of between 1% and 2% of the University’s population of students and employees living, learning or working on campus as well as those who access campus. This includes all employees who are working on campus and students who are taking in-person classes or living within 20 miles of a campus. The University also is continuing with strategic screening to identify location-based rises in cases, data monitoring, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation, which reflect new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

Additional details are available on the Testing and Support page.

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.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and are not in a current isolation period, you have developed antibodies to the virus and your next test result could continue to appear as positive, even though you are no longer symptomatic or contagious.

Students who have a positive test result in the myUHS portal from within the last 90 days do not need to participate in required University testing and should not seek testing within this time period. Students, except for World Campus students, can upload evidence of a positive third-party COVID test from within the last 90 days. Negative test results may not be uploaded.

If you received a positive result from a test administered by Penn State, your result is on record with the University and you do not need to submit it through myUHS.

Yes. View Penn State’s COVID-19 dashboard here. The dashboard is updated three times per week — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — during the spring semester.

Students can find detailed information and guidance on the Health Guidelines, Contact Tracing, and Quarantine and Isolation pages.

Governor’s guidance

The time-limited mitigation orders that went into effect on Dec. 12, 2020, expired at 8 a.m. on Jan. 4, 2021. With the expiration of the time-limited orders, mitigation efforts will revert to mitigation orders in place on Dec. 11, 2020. Orders issued by Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine on Nov. 23 amend previous COVID-19 orders to allow for adjusted capacity to gathering limits. (Note: The order does not apply to classrooms, per the Pennsylvania Department of Education.)


The guidance below applies to any Penn State-sponsored event, either on or off campus. At this time, events organized or sponsored by organizations external to Penn State are not permitted on campuses. In general, meetings and events should be held remotely if feasible.

Student organizations

Student organizations wishing to hold an event or meeting should consult with the Office of Student Activities (University Park) or the chancellor’s office (Commonwealth Campuses) regarding student meeting/event policies and the procedures for requesting to hold a meeting or event.

Indoor meetings and events

Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests to hold indoor meetings or events of more than 10 participants, following the Governor’s order, Section 9, “Requirements for Events and Gatherings” related to room occupancy, must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below).

Outdoor meetings and events

Outdoor meetings of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests for outdoor meetings of more than 10 participants, following the Governor’s order, Section 9, “Requirements for Events and Gatherings,” related to Maximum Occupancy, must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below).

Approval process

Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor or outdoor meeting or event of more than 10 participants, must:

— Explain how the proposed event is in alignment with the mission of the University.

— Provide justification as to why the meeting or event cannot take place virtually or in a hybrid format (some participants in person and others virtually).

— Provide the total number of individuals attending the meeting or event, which must include the employees working the event.

— Include a plan that outlines how the organizers will meet the state of Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn both indoors and outdoors and plans for abiding by social distancing guidelines must be included.

— If the event is on campus, work with the Office of Physical Plant to determine the room capacity that allows for social distancing.

— Keep a list of all attendees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

— Check with the unit’s HRSP (human resources strategic partner) to determine whether employees at the meeting should be entered into the Return to Work database.

— Provide evidence that the meeting organizers have worked with relevant campus leadership to ensure that the gathering is in compliance with local ordinances pertaining to COVID-19.

— Attendees who are not employees or students are required to sign an Acknowledgment of Risk document when feasible, in advance of their arrival if possible. If the unit wishes to make changes to this document other than to add the unit name, it should contact the Office of General Counsel.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas

Meetings that include participants from states with high levels of COVID-19 should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel guidance. All meeting and event attendees from outside of Pennsylvania must follow Pennsylvania’s “COVID-19 Information for Travelers” guidance.

Unit executives should elevate meeting/event requests to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs if there is uncertainty about whether the meeting/event should be approved.