What consequences will students experience if they violate COVID-19-related expectations or laws in the residence halls?
Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). 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.
How are students going to live together in residence halls?
To help limit prolonged person-to-person contact, this fall, 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, and social or 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; all lounge space will be closed initially – all in accordance with the governor’s guidance. Over time, relaxation of that status will depend on the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Elevator usage may be discontinued initially, except for special circumstances; at a minimum, occupancy in elevators will be more restricted than usual. One-way traffic for each stairwell, up or down, will be communicated and expected.
What about the dining commons? How will students get their meals? How can you prevent the spread in the dining commons?
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 encourage physical distancing, in accordance with governmental mandates and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
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.
What is the program for the University maintaining and sanitizing all buildings (residence halls, office buildings, classrooms, etc.)?
To support the health and well-being of students and employees, there will be extensive, daily cleaning of high-touch surface areas, classrooms, labs, offices, restrooms and other common spaces across the University. Desks, podiums, conference tables, interior doorknobs, interior doors, push plates, handrails, light switches and other identified high-touch areas will be cleaned and disinfected at an appropriate frequency. The University has procured several thousand hand-sanitizer stations, which have been placed in high-traffic areas, and hand sanitizer and/or cleaning wipes will be available for each classroom and classroom building. Enhanced cleaning practices also will be implemented for these spaces. At this link, you can read more about the steps being taken by Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant to reduce the potential for spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, offices, restrooms and other indoor areas.
In addition, units will develop 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 and 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.
With the in-residence portion of the fall semester ending on Nov. 20, will room and board rates be adjusted accordingly?
What is the status of the Nittany Lion Inn and the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center?
At this time, the University is utilizing the Nittany Lion Inn on campus for additional classroom space and single-occupancy housing for on-campus resident students. The Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center has reopened with updated health and safety measures.
For questions about current reservations, call 800-233-7505 or email email@example.com.
What will the on-campus dining experience be like this fall?
Although in-person dining will be available, it will be limited throughout the fall semester, with tables physically distanced and chairs removed in order to promote a safer eating environment for diners and workers in accordance with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines. Residential Dining has put in place enhanced protocols including — but not limited to — the use of masks by all guests and staff; increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms using an EPA-approved disinfectant; additional hand sanitizer stations; installation of Plexiglas in key areas; elimination of self-service options (such as beverages, condiments, etc.); and self-swipe card payments. All items will be served in disposable containers with pre-packaged silverware, condiments and beverages.
Students will actually see more choices and more service styles available than have been offered in previous years. This includes a new mobile ordering and pickup option, and Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations.
Penn State will also be offering additional seating outdoors at University Park campus and other campuses.
Additional information on Residential Dining’s plans for fall can be found here.
What if I am a student who is immunocompromised?
We are dedicated to supporting students who are immunocompromised or at-risk to identify and develop appropriate accommodations, for both on-campus housing and academic needs. Students in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses. 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 this fall, there are flexible options so that they can continue to make progress toward their degrees.