Frequently Asked Questions

Classes and academics for faculty and instructors

With the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and our focus on social distancing and the health and well-being of the community, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, has issued revised standards related to laboratory research. Specifically, all on-campus research has been reduced to essential research-related activities only as of March 24.

Limited access to laboratories will be maintained so that essential research-related activities can continue. Guidance for researchers, including how to define essential research, a check list to ramp down lab operations and other lab protocols, is available at https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_labs.

The University has created an authorization form for unit leads to fill out and request to have employees on site at any campus. When filling out the authorization form, unit leaders involved in research (deans, chancellors and institute directors) will be directed to the required research form for “Gradually Increasing On-Campus Research-Related Activities at Penn State.”

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For support addressing accessibility concerns that students with disabilities may encounter in the remote learning environment, faculty can schedule one-on-one consultations by filling out the Accessibility Consultation Form. The Accessibility Team can offer assistance with accessible digital course materials, lecture technology, Canvas, captioning, or any other accessibility questions.

Accessibility Training for Instructors webinar sessions are also available via Zoom for faculty to learn how to develop and transition summer courses to a remote environment. Log in with your Penn State Access Account on the Learning Resource Network website to register for these sessions.

Additional information and resources for faculty members are available at https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/.

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All University-affiliated international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. Given the uncertainly due to COVID-19, we recommend that University personnel avoid making travel reservations in order to avoid the costs and disruption that might come with future cancellations. If travel is essential, requests should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at provost@psu.edu and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at dean@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

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All University-affiliated domestic air travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended through at least June 30, 2020. Any nonessential travel, including between Penn State campuses, should be avoided in accordance with Pennsylvania’s statewide Stay at Home Order. Virtual meeting options, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are encouraged.

If travel is essential, requests should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at provost@psu.edu and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at dean@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

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Based on the recent U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory and visa services suspension, Penn State is not accepting new Visiting Scholar applications until further notice. This moratorium applies to domestic and international visiting scholars. Applications currently in the system will not be approved.

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Per guidance from the U.S. Department of State, all foreign nationals scheduled to arrive on campus before Aug. 1, 2020, must reschedule their visits. Unit executives should send requests for exceptions to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the visit is essential.

Consistent with travel guidance issued by Penn State, all domestic individuals invited to campus before June 30, 2020, must reschedule their visits. Unit executives should send requests for exceptions to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the visit is essential.

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If you are granted an exception to conduct a search, academic units should use Zoom or other virtual tools for interviews to prioritize the health of candidates, participants and their families. Consistent with guidance issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, all scheduled on-site campus interviews for domestic candidates must be postponed until at least June 30, 2020. On-campus interviews with international candidates should be held virtually or rescheduled after June 30, 2020.

Please note that these dates may change based on future guidance. As a result, units have the authority to postpone a search or conduct an entirely virtual search. As you structure the process, please strive to make interviews as consistent as possible for each candidate. As always, ensure that evaluation of all applicants is based on the extent to which applicants meet the criteria for the position.

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On March 20, the University announced that, in acknowledgement of the COVID-19 crisis and its extraordinary impacts on our faculty, Penn State is extending the provisional tenure period starting with the 2020-2021 academic year for all faculty in their pre-tenure probationary period, as defined in University policy AC23. ALL tenure-line faculty in their probationary period during spring 2020 are eligible. By completing the online form titled “Confirmation of Extension of the Probationary Period Due to COVID-19,” the faculty member’s probationary period will be extended by one year. Confirmation of the extension may be submitted at any time up until April 1 of the penultimate year of the probationary period (April 30 for those whose sixth-year tenure review is scheduled for fall 2020). Email questions about the extension of the probationary period due to COVID-19 to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at vpfa@psu.edu. Comprehensive FAQs pertaining to this guidance are provided online.

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For employees needing support, the Penn State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), through the EAP+Work/Life program, offers short-term counseling from licensed EAP professionals, by phone, email or in person to help employees better cope with personal, family and work issues. EAP also offers access to Personal Health Advocates, who can help navigate healthcare and insurance systems, efficiently and dependably. More information is available at https://hr.psu.edu/health-matters/employee-assistance-program.

For a full list of resources available to students and other members of the Penn State community, visit https://virusinfo.psu.edu/resources.

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The U.S. Department of State has issued a worldwide Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and is advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends avoiding all nonessential international travel. Penn State is extending the same guidance to all students, faculty and staff.

Penn State is urging faculty, staff and students to be vigilant and to continue to exercise good judgment to stay as safe as possible, and to follow the latest stay-at-home orders from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. We have placed restrictions on University-affiliated travel, and though we cannot dictate decision-making pertaining to other professional and personal travel, such travel is strongly discouraged. In addition to the risk to their personal health, travelers should be aware of the elevated risk to other members of the community — including individuals with compromised immune systems and the elderly — should they become infected.

Travelers should consult the CDC’s website for the latest travel health notices, and research the restrictions imposed in the country they plan to visit, as well as any U.S. government restrictions that could impact their return to the United States, as the global travel situation is changing frequently. With widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide, if you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days, stay home and monitor your health.

The CDC recommends that individuals stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact, especially if they are at higher risk of severe illness. If you must travel for personal reasons, follow any state and local travel restrictions currently in place.

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Penn State’s Office of the Vice President for Research has released comprehensive guidance, available at https://www.research.psu.edu/covid.

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Yes, a faculty member may do this, but must also securely store the recordings and destroy them at the end of the semester. If a faculty member intends to use the recordings after the end of the semester, any type of identifying information must be removed. In addition, a faculty member must inform students that they are being recorded by sharing the following language with them: “Video and audio recordings of class lectures will be part of the classroom activity. The video and audio recording is used for educational use/purposes and only may be made available to all students presently enrolled in the class. For purposes where the recordings will be used in future class session/lectures, any type of identifying information will be adequately removed.”

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Instructors whose required course materials are not currently available digitally via Canvas should submit an electronic reserve request using the University Libraries’ request form https://libraries.psu.edu/psulib_eres/eres for required materials.

Should physical course materials on reserve be available in digital form in the Libraries’ catalog, those materials will be linked to the course upon request. If physical content is not in the catalog in digital form, the Libraries will scan portions of required course material for short-term, temporary use, in a manner that respects Fair Use rights, the rights of copyright holders, and current copyright law.

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Visit https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/ for resources and varying approaches for instructors to quickly adapt courses through Canvas, Kaltura and Zoom.

The University has multiple resources available to help faculty members successfully make this transition. Instructors have the following available options:

—Reach out to colleagues who have experience in teaching remotely and online.

—Instructional design support to help develop alternative methods and pedagogies.

remoteteaching@psu.edu offers a quick start to delivering courses remotely through tools such as Canvas, Kaltura, and Zoom.

For answers to frequently asked questions about remote teaching, visit https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/faq/.

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No. 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 remoteteaching.psu.edu/training. If a faculty member chooses to record a Zoom session, student participation during the session should not be required. Students should be provided the choice to opt-out from identification in the recording by muting their audio, disabling video, and not typing into the chat window. In these cases, students should still be considered in attendance and should not penalized in any way.

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Penn State IT and Teaching and Learning with Technology have developed a knowledge base article that provides step-by-step instructions for securing Zoom sessions from would-be hijackers. Additionally, if one of your courses is hijacked, report the incident to University Police.

Additional details are available on Penn State News.

The University also implemented new default security changes to Zoom on May 11.

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How can I address accessibility concerns in the remote learning environment?

For support addressing accessibility concerns that students with disabilities may encounter in the remote learning environment, faculty can schedule one-on-one consultations by filling out the Accessibility Consultation Form. The Accessibility Team can offer assistance with accessible digital course materials, lecture technology, Canvas, captioning, or any other accessibility questions.

Accessibility Training for Instructors webinar sessions are also available via Zoom for faculty to learn how to develop and transition summer courses to a remote environment. Log in with your Penn State Access Account on the Learning Resource Network website to register for these sessions.

Additional information and resources for faculty members are available at https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/.

Permalink

Yes, a faculty member may do this, but must also securely store the recordings and destroy them at the end of the semester. If a faculty member intends to use the recordings after the end of the semester, any type of identifying information must be removed. In addition, a faculty member must inform students that they are being recorded by sharing the following language with them: “Video and audio recordings of class lectures will be part of the classroom activity. The video and audio recording is used for educational use/purposes and only may be made available to all students presently enrolled in the class. For purposes where the recordings will be used in future class session/lectures, any type of identifying information will be adequately removed.”

Permalink

Instructors whose required course materials are not currently available digitally via Canvas should submit an electronic reserve request using the University Libraries’ request form https://libraries.psu.edu/psulib_eres/eres for required materials.

Should physical course materials on reserve be available in digital form in the Libraries’ catalog, those materials will be linked to the course upon request. If physical content is not in the catalog in digital form, the Libraries will scan portions of required course material for short-term, temporary use, in a manner that respects Fair Use rights, the rights of copyright holders, and current copyright law.

Permalink

Visit https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/ for resources and varying approaches for instructors to quickly adapt courses through Canvas, Kaltura and Zoom.

The University has multiple resources available to help faculty members successfully make this transition. Instructors have the following available options:

—Reach out to colleagues who have experience in teaching remotely and online.

—Instructional design support to help develop alternative methods and pedagogies.

remoteteaching@psu.edu offers a quick start to delivering courses remotely through tools such as Canvas, Kaltura, and Zoom.

For answers to frequently asked questions about remote teaching, visit https://remoteteaching.psu.edu/faq/.

Permalink

No. 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 remoteteaching.psu.edu/training. If a faculty member chooses to record a Zoom session, student participation during the session should not be required. Students should be provided the choice to opt-out from identification in the recording by muting their audio, disabling video, and not typing into the chat window. In these cases, students should still be considered in attendance and should not penalized in any way.

Permalink

Penn State IT and Teaching and Learning with Technology have developed a knowledge base article that provides step-by-step instructions for securing Zoom sessions from would-be hijackers. Additionally, if one of your courses is hijacked, report the incident to University Police.

Additional details are available on Penn State News.

The University also implemented new default security changes to Zoom on May 11.

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Can I travel internationally?

All University-affiliated international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. Given the uncertainly due to COVID-19, we recommend that University personnel avoid making travel reservations in order to avoid the costs and disruption that might come with future cancellations. If travel is essential, requests should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at provost@psu.edu and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at dean@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

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All University-affiliated domestic air travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended through at least June 30, 2020. Any nonessential travel, including between Penn State campuses, should be avoided in accordance with Pennsylvania’s statewide Stay at Home Order. Virtual meeting options, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, are encouraged.

If travel is essential, requests should be screened by and submitted through unit executives to Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones at provost@psu.edu and include a description of why the travel is mission critical. For the Applied Research Laboratory, essential travel will be reviewed by Senior Vice President for Research Lora G. Weiss at OSVPRTravel@psu.edu. For the College of Medicine, essential travel will be reviewed by Interim Dean of the College of Medicine Kevin Black at dean@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.

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The U.S. Department of State has issued a worldwide Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory and is advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends avoiding all nonessential international travel. Penn State is extending the same guidance to all students, faculty and staff.

Penn State is urging faculty, staff and students to be vigilant and to continue to exercise good judgment to stay as safe as possible, and to follow the latest stay-at-home orders from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. We have placed restrictions on University-affiliated travel, and though we cannot dictate decision-making pertaining to other professional and personal travel, such travel is strongly discouraged. In addition to the risk to their personal health, travelers should be aware of the elevated risk to other members of the community — including individuals with compromised immune systems and the elderly — should they become infected.

Travelers should consult the CDC’s website for the latest travel health notices, and research the restrictions imposed in the country they plan to visit, as well as any U.S. government restrictions that could impact their return to the United States, as the global travel situation is changing frequently. With widespread, ongoing transmission of novel coronavirus worldwide, if you have traveled internationally in the past 14 days, stay home and monitor your health.

The CDC recommends that individuals stay home as much as possible and avoid close contact, especially if they are at higher risk of severe illness. If you must travel for personal reasons, follow any state and local travel restrictions currently in place.

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A visiting scholar is coming to campus. Can they still come? (UPDATED 4/20)

Based on the recent U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory and visa services suspension, Penn State is not accepting new Visiting Scholar applications until further notice. This moratorium applies to domestic and international visiting scholars. Applications currently in the system will not be approved.

Permalink

Per guidance from the U.S. Department of State, all foreign nationals scheduled to arrive on campus before Aug. 1, 2020, must reschedule their visits. Unit executives should send requests for exceptions to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the visit is essential.

Consistent with travel guidance issued by Penn State, all domestic individuals invited to campus before June 30, 2020, must reschedule their visits. Unit executives should send requests for exceptions to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the visit is essential.

Permalink

If you are granted an exception to conduct a search, academic units should use Zoom or other virtual tools for interviews to prioritize the health of candidates, participants and their families. Consistent with guidance issued by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, all scheduled on-site campus interviews for domestic candidates must be postponed until at least June 30, 2020. On-campus interviews with international candidates should be held virtually or rescheduled after June 30, 2020.

Please note that these dates may change based on future guidance. As a result, units have the authority to postpone a search or conduct an entirely virtual search. As you structure the process, please strive to make interviews as consistent as possible for each candidate. As always, ensure that evaluation of all applicants is based on the extent to which applicants meet the criteria for the position.

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Can I continue to conduct laboratory research? (UPDATED 5/22)

With the rapidly evolving circumstances regarding COVID-19 and our focus on social distancing and the health and well-being of the community, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, in consultation with the Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Medicine, has issued revised standards related to laboratory research. Specifically, all on-campus research has been reduced to essential research-related activities only as of March 24.

Limited access to laboratories will be maintained so that essential research-related activities can continue. Guidance for researchers, including how to define essential research, a check list to ramp down lab operations and other lab protocols, is available at https://www.research.psu.edu/covid_labs.

The University has created an authorization form for unit leads to fill out and request to have employees on site at any campus. When filling out the authorization form, unit leaders involved in research (deans, chancellors and institute directors) will be directed to the required research form for “Gradually Increasing On-Campus Research-Related Activities at Penn State.”

Permalink

On March 20, the University announced that, in acknowledgement of the COVID-19 crisis and its extraordinary impacts on our faculty, Penn State is extending the provisional tenure period starting with the 2020-2021 academic year for all faculty in their pre-tenure probationary period, as defined in University policy AC23. ALL tenure-line faculty in their probationary period during spring 2020 are eligible. By completing the online form titled “Confirmation of Extension of the Probationary Period Due to COVID-19,” the faculty member’s probationary period will be extended by one year. Confirmation of the extension may be submitted at any time up until April 1 of the penultimate year of the probationary period (April 30 for those whose sixth-year tenure review is scheduled for fall 2020). Email questions about the extension of the probationary period due to COVID-19 to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at vpfa@psu.edu. Comprehensive FAQs pertaining to this guidance are provided online.

Permalink

Penn State’s Office of the Vice President for Research has released comprehensive guidance, available at https://www.research.psu.edu/covid.

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I’m a faculty or staff member in need of support. Who should I contact?

For employees needing support, the Penn State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), through the EAP+Work/Life program, offers short-term counseling from licensed EAP professionals, by phone, email or in person to help employees better cope with personal, family and work issues. EAP also offers access to Personal Health Advocates, who can help navigate healthcare and insurance systems, efficiently and dependably. More information is available at https://hr.psu.edu/health-matters/employee-assistance-program.

For a full list of resources available to students and other members of the Penn State community, visit https://virusinfo.psu.edu/resources.

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