What will our return look like for course instruction? Will instruction be in person, remote or a hybrid model?
There will be changes to the academic schedule focused on enhancing safety, minimizing travel and lowering the risk of spread of the virus. To meet these goals, the fall semester will begin on the originally scheduled date of Monday, Aug. 24, and campus-based residential instruction will end Friday, Nov. 20, with the remainder of the semester—including finals—being delivered remotely and/or online when classes resume after Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30. Some units, such as Dickinson Law and Penn State Law, have different start dates and will also begin as originally scheduled. To minimize travel and lower the risk of spreading coronavirus on campuses, classes will be held on Labor Day (Sept. 7). The semester will end following finals on Dec. 18, as originally planned.
Delivery of the curriculum will occur through a highly flexible mix of in-person, remote and online instruction throughout the semester, with all courses with enrollment over 250 at University Park and over 100 at a Commonwealth Campus delivered remotely, in line with the governor’s requirements for higher education. Most classes will be scheduled through synchronous delivery (faculty member is present at same time as students). This is based on strong evidence of greater academic success by establishing robust learning communities and environments. Campuses and academic units will determine how to deliver smaller classes, following University guidance.
Faculty are expected to be flexible in their interpretation and management of in-person class attendance so that sick students can stay home, and the University will work with immunocompromised and other at-risk students to develop appropriate accommodations. 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.
Penn State is focused on supporting students and helping them to meet their desired educational outcomes no matter the method of delivery, and advisers will be available to assist students on crafting their individual class schedules and curricula options.