Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty and staff

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 20, 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 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 site, virusinfo.psu.edu, to see if their questions are answered there. The site’s regularly updated FAQs include the latest updates, as well as resources and comprehensive information specifically for Penn State students and families, faculty and staff, and members of campus communities. The University’s “Back to State” webpage also includes a variety of information for students and families and employees.

For direct support, in lieu of calling the COVID-19 Response Center:

— Penn State students with health concerns should call the 24/7 Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463. At University Park, students can make appointments with University Health Services by using myUHS or calling the appointment line at 814-863-0774. Commonwealth Campus students should contact their campus’ health care services. Information about COVID-19 testing options for students at University Park is available here.

— Penn State employees with human resources-related questions can call Human Resources Shared Services directly at 814-865-1473. That office’s hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls received outside those hours will be directed to an online inquiry system (WorkLion) that is monitored.

— Individuals with questions about the University’s technical systems or operations related to COVID-19 can call Penn State Technical Support directly at 814-865-4357 (HELP) at any time.

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Symptomatic individuals selected for surveillance testing should indicate their symptoms via the questionnaire on the COVID-19 surveillance registration website. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be excluded from random asymptomatic surveillance testing.

Due to the fact that surveillance test samples are analyzed in pools, or groups, for efficiency, and in the interest of personal and community health, symptomatic students should instead stay home and schedule an appointment with University Health Services or their campus health center for individual evaluation and testing. Employees with COVID-19 symptoms should stay home, call their primary care provider, and contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 or psuoccmed@psu.edu.

As part of Penn State’s multi-layered COVID-19 testing program, the University is conducting randomized daily testing of a least 1% of the campus population to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Those excluded from testing due to COVID-19 symptoms may be added back into the testing pool and selected again at a later date.

Those with questions about the surveillance testing process can email HealthyState@psu.edu for assistance. For answers to frequently asked questions about the University’s surveillance testing program, visit “Surveillance testing for students” or “Surveillance testing for employees” on virusinfo.psu.edu.

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At University Park, University Health Services provides appointment-based, “on-demand” testing for students who have COVID-19-related symptoms. If a student is symptomatic, they should seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

For University Park students who are asymptomatic but self-identify as having COVID-19 exposure or want to be tested for other reasons, a voluntary walk-up testing site is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena. By allowing students to be tested who feel that they may have been exposed rather than solely those who have been identified by the contact tracing process, these expanded testing efforts will supplement and hasten the University’s existing contact tracing efforts and the deployment of quarantine and isolation.

Both students and employees may be selected by the University for random screening as part of the University’s ongoing surveillance testing program. Students and employees will be provided with instructions via email about where to go for this testing when they are selected.

More information on COVID-19 testing options at University Park is available from Penn State Student Affairs.

For Commonwealth Campus students and employees, random screening is being conducted by Vault Health. Individuals selected for random screening will receive an email that includes specific directions on next steps. It is important that selected individuals register for their test within 48 hours of receiving the email and then complete their test within 48 hours of having the test kit in hand. On-demand testing for Commonwealth Campus students is being conducted by Quest. Symptomatic students should contact their campus health center or testing contact for directions on how to obtain a test kit.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is offering on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff who are working on campus at University Park and wish to be tested.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing for employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database is available on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena starting Oct. 9. The testing center is open for employees only from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, or employees may walk up at any time during the center’s normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Individuals who visit Pegula Ice Arena for walk-up testing must enter through Gate A – the main entry at the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive.

This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. Employees should work with their supervisor to request time to obtain COVID-19 testing. Registration is not required. Employees who wish to be tested must bring identification and a smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free for employees.

Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be tested at the walk-up testing site. Any employee who feels sick with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is conducting a randomized COVID-19 surveillance testing program to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 across all campuses. The University will perform daily testing of at least 1% of the student, faculty and staff population across Penn State’s campuses. 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 surveillance 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.

For additional information about surveillance testing, read this story in Penn State News. Three new COVID-19 surveillance testing sites will be open for Penn State employees and students on the University Park campus starting Oct. 7. These indoor locations replace previous University Park campus testing locations and expand services to include employee-only hours.

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With a focus on health and safety, limiting travel and mitigating the spread of the virus among the community, the spring semester will begin one week later than normal on Jan. 18 to avoid the peak of flu season in Pennsylvania. The 15-week instruction window for the semester will begin on Jan. 18 and end on April 30, with final examinations on May 3 -7, as previously scheduled. MLK Jr. Day (Jan. 18) will be observed, and classes will begin on Jan. 19. There will be no spring break week to reduce travel and limit the spread of the virus into our campus communities. At this time, there is no designated remote-only learning period scheduled for spring, however the University is preparing to be flexible and can pivot, including shifting to a remote start, if needed based on a variety of health and safety factors and data. The spring 2021 semester schedule will be available on Oct. 15 and all students will register for courses before Nov. 20. To learn more, visit this link.

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To maintain social distancing protocols and meet or exceed state and national health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the flexible instructional modes developed for the fall 2020 semester, along with limited classroom capacities, will remain in place at all Penn State campuses in spring 2021, provided that the public health landscape allows for in-person instruction. Course delivery options will include in-person, mixed-mode, remote synchronous and remote asynchronous instruction. To learn more, visit keeplearning.psu.edu.

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Students will be able to access the spring 2021 schedule of classes with information about the instructional mode for each course on LionPATH beginning Oct. 15. Once the schedule of courses is published, students should meet with their advisers to plan their courses and make sure they are on track for important milestones such as entry to major and graduation. Registration will begin on Nov. 1 for graduate students and Nov. 2 for undergraduate students. Students are encouraged to register for classes by Nov. 20 before they leave for Thanksgiving break. Students also are encouraged to consult the “Registration Timetable” on the Office of the University Registrar website to determine when they are eligible to register, based on the number of credits they have earned.

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The University’s top priority for spring planning, as it was for fall, is the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and local community members. A working group with more than 20 members from across the University considered a variety of options for spring to build on strategies from the fall, while considering the need to adapt quickly and make changes on a campus-by-campus basis considering ongoing uncertainties due to the pandemic. Following the exploration of nine scenarios, University leadership finalized a spring plan grounded in continuing to meet or exceed health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Department of Education, as well as providing flexibility to students to help them meet their academic goals and continue their academic progress. The selected spring semester plan also offers instructors choice in how classes are delivered and maximizes the safe use of facilities to support in-person modes of instruction and to give students access to spaces to connect to remote learning. The University is prepared to be flexible and to make potential changes, if needed, including shifting to a remote learning, based on a variety of health and safety factors and continuous monitoring of the virus.

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To support the health and safety of the University and surrounding communities, spring break will not take place, 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.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, Penn State experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases and public health have continued to track current trends and monitor local, state and national disease data. The University is working closely with officials from the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health, as well as local public and private organizations, to prepare for spring and to carefully monitor the prevalence of coronavirus on our campuses and in our local communities. The University has in place required mask wearing and physical distancing requirements, as well as a random surveillance testing program to detect asymptomatic infected individuals and take proactive steps to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Based on these protocols, the guidance from state and national officials, and in consultation with faculty and other experts the University is prepared to adjust its approach for spring given a multitude of factors, including a severe flu season, and will be ready to make changes and shift to remote learning if necessary.

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To continue on-campus learning, work and other activities in the spring, it’s vital that students, faculty and staff at all campuses and in adjacent communities do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear face masks, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings in line with public health guidelines. This spring, students, employees and visitors will be required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks at all times in campus buildings; outdoors when they cannot be physically distant from others; and whenever state or local laws require. The University also requires students and most employees to participate in random surveillance testing of around 1% of a campus population daily in order to detect, track, mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.

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There are two general principles to keep in mind. First, while it is always true that the University does not want people who are ill to come to class, it is particularly true in the midst of a pandemic. Second, flexibility is essential given that some students are in isolation and quarantine. Below is a summary of the relevant policies and guidance related to how to manage student absences during COVID.

Instructors are encouraged to handle student absences with flexibility during this pandemic period. Additionally, it is critical to our health and safety efforts that instructors advise students who are feeling ill not to attend class. FAQs on the keepteaching website and the virus info website provide additional information about how instructors might provide make-up work to students who are unable to participate in class for a short period of time or to engage them remotely with collaborative or communication tools if the period of time is extensive.

Penn State guidelines pertaining to class attendance are available from two sources. First, the Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual states that “in the case of illness, students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel.” University Health Services does not provide medical notes to students. Second, the University Faculty Senate’s Policies and Rules for Undergraduate Students states, “Instructors also should provide, within reason, the opportunity to make up work for students who miss classes for other legitimate but unavoidable reasons. Legitimate, unavoidable reasons are those such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, or religious observance.” In addition, the Faculty Senate’s syllabus guidelines discuss student attendance and explain that syllabi should “emphasize that students should NOT come to class physically when they are feeling ill.”

If a student is taking a CP or CM course and has tested positive for COVID, the instructor will receive an email. Please note that it is possible that a student will notify you of a positive test result before you receive this email. This is explained in depth in an FAQ in the Sept. 4 Faculty Digest. Instructors teaching CR or CW courses will not receive an email if a student in their class tests positive, but should still work with these students to make up any missed work if the student is too ill to attend class remotely.

Students may report to you that they are feeling ill or feel that they may have been exposed. Students who feel ill should be advised to not attend class in person and to get tested through Penn State’s walk-up testing process. Students who feel that they may have been exposed should be advised to complete the Student COVID-19 Self-Referral Form on the COVID-19 support page for students and can also be tested through walk-up testing.

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Random and risk-stratified samples of employees will be selected and tested for COVID-19 as part of our multi-pronged testing program. This will allow us to identify employees who may have the virus but are not displaying symptoms (asymptomatic). Asymptomatic cases require isolation and assessment of the level of any potential spread of the virus in our employee population. By testing as many people as possible, we hope to minimize the risk of infection on our Penn State campuses and in our communities.

Surveillance testing of approximately 1% of our campus population began on Aug. 24 and will be conducted each day throughout the semester.

If an employee is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link in the email will expire the following day. Upon registering, employees will have the option of scheduling their test within the next two days. Participation in the surveillance testing program is required (except for pre-determined exceptions). There will be no cost for this program.

For answers to additional employee questions about the University’s random surveillance testing program, visit “Surveillance testing for employees.”

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Employees are selected to participate in surveillance testing based on the “Return to Work on Campus” database. If you are working remotely and wish to be removed from surveillance testing, you should speak with your supervisor or academic leadership and ask to be removed from the “Return to Work on Campus” database.

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If an employee is selected, they will be notified via an email from HealthyState@psu.edu. The registration link within the email will expire the following day. Upon registering, individuals will have the option of scheduling their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

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Testing locations vary. When you register for your surveillance test, you will be provided with a list of locations where you can be tested.

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The test will be performed using saliva sampling. After you check in for your appointment, a staff member will guide you through the self-collection process.

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Wait time is estimated to be less than 15 minutes throughout the day.

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Please bring your Penn State ID card.

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Be well-hydrated on the day of your test. However, do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, brush your teeth, etc. in the 30 minutes prior to your test.

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To reschedule your appointment, log back into the registration system and reschedule (covid.apps.psu.edu). You can only reschedule during your eligibility window.

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There is no cost to the employee. The test is completely free and will not be charged to your insurance.

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At the time of testing, you will register with Vault Health using your psu.edu email address. You will receive an email from hello@updates.vaulthealth.com with your results at your psu.edu email address within 48-72 hours of taking your test.

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Test results will be emailed to your Penn State email account (psu.edu).

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Yes. A COVID-19 test can only tell us your health status at a single point in time. Thus, testing is required regardless of previous testing history.

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If you have a previous positive test, please log into the registration system (covid.apps.psu.edu). Your specific circumstances will be assessed, and you will be informed whether you need to continue with testing.

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The data is stored in HIPAA-compliant software and databases. Any questions related to privacy should be directed to the Office of Information Security.

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Walk-up COVID-19 testing for employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database is available on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena starting Oct. 9. The testing center is open for employees only from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, or employees may walk up at any time during the center’s normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be tested at the walk-up testing site. Any employee who feels sick with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Regardless of your symptom profile, a positive test will result in isolation. The University’s office of Occupational Medicine will contact you and discuss guidelines for isolation and will provide you with the date you can return to work.

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Most employees are required to participate in surveillance testing. The surveillance invitation will specify whether an employee has been selected for mandatory or voluntary testing.

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No. If you test positive, Occupational Medicine will provide guidance and advise you and your family to seek medical care from your personal health care provider.

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After being tested by the surveillance program, you will be returned to the testing pool seven days later. This is because someone’s COVID status can change at any time. We are committed to providing ongoing testing for the campus community that provides an accurate estimate of the disease prevalence.

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Faculty and staff have the same rights to privacy of their health information as everyone else (see AD22 and AD53). Employees, including faculty, do not have an obligation to share their protected health information or testing status with students.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive or have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you should leave work if you are at work, notify your academic administrator (department head/school director/CAO/DAA), contact Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492, and contact your personal healthcare provider. Do not hold classes or meet with students in-person if you have symptoms or have been told to quarantine or isolate. You may hold your class remotely as you are able. If you are ill and not able to have class, work with your academic administrator to plan an alternative. You do not need to share the reason why you are ill with your academic administrator. Some colleges/campuses have class cancellation policies that will need to be followed.

You do not need to share with your class that you are absent due to a COVID diagnosis or symptoms or that you are in quarantine or isolation. As explained in an FAQ in this Digest on Friday, Sept. 11, if you test positive for COVID-19, then contact tracers will work with you to identify your close contacts. Generally speaking, in traditional classroom settings with proper masking and physical distancing, instructors and students will not be considered close contacts of each other.

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Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, as well as faculty and staff, to get a flu vaccine before the onset of flu season, or certainly before the start of the spring semester, to help alleviate the complicated season that is likely to include flu along with COVID-19. According to the CDC, September and October are good times to get vaccinated, but as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue into January or later. Penn State is encouraging flu vaccination in order to both protect the health of the University community and reduce demand on health care resources in and around Penn State campus communities to maintain capacity for the severely ill.

Student flu vaccine clinics will begin on Sept. 21 and run through Nov. 10 at the University Park campus.

Flu vaccines are free for all Penn State employees, regardless of participation in a University-sponsored health care plan. Employees can choose one of the three options for receiving the flu vaccine in late September through late October, and will receive more information via their Penn State email address.

For additional information about the flu vaccine, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.

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For fall 2020, faculty have been preparing their courses for many months, around half of all courses are already being delivered remotely, and students, faculty and staff have all been aware of the need to prepare for a potential pivot to more fully remote instruction if required for health and safety considerations. Therefore, it is very unlikely that alternative grading will be implemented under the current circumstances or in the event that we must pivot to greater use of remote instruction prior to the planned Nov. 20 switch.

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The flexible instructional modes developed for the fall 2020 semester, along with limited classroom capacities, will remain in place at all Penn State campuses in spring 2021, provided that the public health landscape allows for some in-person instruction. The University is taking these measures to maintain social distancing protocols and to meet or exceed state and national health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Course delivery options will include the following, with LionPATH codes listed in parentheses:

In-Person Instruction (COVID In-Person) — Students meet in the assigned classroom at the time assigned in the course schedule.

Mixed-Mode Instruction (COVID Mixed Mode) — Instructors deploy a combination of instructional modes to meet social distancing requirements.

Remote Synchronous Instruction (COVID Remote) — Students attend all classes remotely at the scheduled time.

Remote Asynchronous Instruction (COVID Web) — Course material is made available for students to work through on their own schedules.

Students will be able to access the spring 2021 schedule of classes with information about the instructional mode for each course on LionPATH beginning Monday, Sept. 28.

Additional information about the spring 2021 semester is available at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/spring-2021-planning/ and in this Penn State News article.

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If you are having COVID-19 symptoms, you should 1) leave work immediately if you are at work and self-isolate, 2) notify your supervisor, and 3) contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 or psuoccmed@psu.edu. Occupational Medicine will determine whether you need to be tested and whether the test should be ordered through your family physician or through Occupational Medicine. It is important to contact Occupational Medicine, because its staff will contact your supervisor and the University’s Absence Management on your behalf to inform them about when you will be out of the office and when you may be able to return. If you are working remotely, Occupational Medicine will still be able to advise you about testing. You may also wish to consult this chart if you have questions about how to proceed if you feel ill or feel that you may have been exposed.

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On June 2, the University charged a Health Resources Task Group to develop options and recommendations for testing and contact tracing that could minimize the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission and enable a return to working and learning on campuses. A seven-person steering committee, with support from 30 individuals from University Park, the College of Medicine, and the Commonwealth campuses, submitted a report on July 2, which informed the sample testing and contact tracing strategy adopted by the University. The report is accessible via this link.

There has been interest in the University’s simulation modeling that informed its pre-arrival testing strategy. The University based its approach on modeling that showed that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood of avoiding an outbreak that would exceed local hospital capacity. The report provides greater detail. The pre-arrival process is complete. The following analysis suggests the number of potentially infectious students returning to University Park to start the semester would have been less than or equal to 38.

Pre-arrival testing estimation:

Following initial risk modeling we determined the likelihood of an outbreak in the community surrounding the University Park campus that would exceed the inpatient capacity at Mount Nittany Medical Center prior to the semester break in November was highly sensitive to the initial number of infectious students returning to campus as the start of the semester. Specifically, stochastic model situations suggested that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood that such an outbreak could be avoided through a combination of preventive actions (masking and distancing), routine asymptomatic screening of 1% of the campus population each day, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

A review by our testing task force established that the time required to conduct pre-arrival testing for all Penn State students would render the strategy inviable. In order to complete testing within a short time window, as close to student return as possible, we established a plan to test a subset of returning students. To maximize the impact per test conducted, we modeled the expected prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at the county level across the U.S. To estimate the total prevalence in each U.S. county we counted all reported COVID cases assuming that 1 in 10 infections are detected and reported. We assumed that the probability that a student returning to campus from any U.S. county was infectious was equal to the estimated prevalence in their home county (e.g. a student is a randomly chosen individual from the county) [NOTE: the methods we used are analogous to those here https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu, which have been widely used elsewhere and covered in the media]. Thus, tests allocated to counties with the highest estimated prevalence would have the highest probability of preventing an infectious student returning to campus. Each test allocated reduced the expected number of returning infectious students by a value equal to the county prevalence (which itself was considerably less than 1). Thus, we prioritized the allocation of tests to those U.S. counties with the highest estimated prevalence to maximize the reduction in infectious students returning to campuses.

If no pre-arrival testing were done, we estimated that the number of students returning infectious to the University Park campus would be approximately 300. Thus, for University Park, we allocated pre-arrival tests such that the expected number of infectious students returning to campus was less than 50. After targeted allocation of tests to students that were serving as RAs or in other high contact roles during move-in and orientation, we expected that number of potentially infectious students returning to the University Park campus would be less than or equal to 38; thus, reducing the expected number of infectious students returning by 87%.

For the smaller Commonwealth Campuses, we set a lower target threshold of 10 infectious students returning. Many of the smaller Commonwealth Campuses had a total expected number of infectious returning students less than 10 in the absence of any pre-arrival testing. In this case we allocated pre-arrival testing proportional to campus size to guarantee pre-arrival testing at all campuses.

As test results were returned, we were able to evaluate whether or not our predicted county-level prevalence was consistent with the observed prevalence among our tested students. This analysis revealed that students residing in high prevalence counties outside of Pennsylvania were positive at rates lower than we predicted. The rate of positive students residing in high prevalence counties within Pennsylvania was strongly correlated with our estimates — counties that we prioritized as high-risk had higher proportions of infected students. However, we found that our estimates had under-estimated the expected number of infected students in these counties. Because we invited all students in the high prevalence counties to be tested, our strategy was robust to this underestimation; that is, by testing 100% of students in a county we expected to catch all infected students whether the number was 10 or 15.

Operational delays in test results (some due to unforeseen events, such as a tropical storm causing transport delays) meant that less than 100% of invited students were tested prior to campus return. Using our analysis of observed COVID prevalence among the tests that had been returned, we were able to prioritize subsequent testing of returning students through additional efforts, including on-campus testing some students at the time of arrival. The very large number of tests done at the University Park campus also allowed us to identify high-risk Pennsylvania counties based on our testing results, rather than our a priori model, and allocate additional pre-arrival tests to students returning to Commonwealth Campuses from these counties.

Health Resources Task Group Membership:

Kevin Black, MD (Co-Lead)
Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Steve Tracey (Co-Lead)
Smeal College of Business
Professor of Practice, Supply-Chain and Information Systems (SC&IS)
Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Research
Executive Director, Penn State Executive Programs

Mark A. Bates
Medical Director for Penn State’s Occupational Medicine Program
Division of the Office of Human Resources

Lauren Bechtel (admin. support)
Program Director, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Michael Brignati
Associate General Counsel
Office of the President

David M. Callejo Pérez
Associate Vice President and Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Programs

James Crandall
Director of Environmental Health and Safety

Duane Elmore
Director Procurement Services

Cara Exten, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Matthew Ferrari
Associate Professor of Biology

Patty Franklin
Associate Vice President for HR Operations

Melissa George, MD
Interim Chair Department of Pathology, College of Medicine

Frank Guadagnino
Vice President for Administration
Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Kevin Harter
Associate Dean for Medical Innovation Professor of Practice, Entrepreneurship
Penn State College of Medicine

Nirmal Joshi, MD
System Chief Medical Officer
Mount Nittany Health

Dovizia Long
Labor Relations Strategist

Cindy Lynch (admin. support)
Chief of Staff for Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Stanley Martin, MD
Infectious Diseases, Geisinger

John Mason
Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg

Robin Ella Oliver-Veronesi, MD, CPE
Senior Director of University Health Services

Catharine Paules, MD
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases
Penn State College of Medicine
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Nick (Vittal) Prabhu
Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair Service Enterprise Engineering

Andrew Read
Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology; Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

Kusumal Ruamsook
Research Associate and Teaching Professor, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Jennifer Santiago
Assistant Vice President of Risk Management and University Risk Officer

Wayne Sebastianelli, MD
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Penn State College of Medicine
State College Regional Medical Campus

Dennis Scanlon
Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration

Jen Stedelin
Associate Vice President, Enterprise Applications Penn State Information Technology

Michael Stefan
Director of State Relations
Office of Government and Community Relations

Richard Sparrow
Acting Chief Information Security Officer Office of Information Security

Lisa Vavala
Director of Nursing, Assistant Clinical Director of University Health Services

Kelly A. Wolgast
DNP, RN, FACHE, FAAN COL (R), US Army
Director of COVID-19 Operations Control Center
Associate Teaching Professor, College of Nursing
Assistant Dean for Outreach and Professional Development, College of Nursing

Hui Yang
Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering PI & Site Director: NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT)
Affiliate Faculty: Bioengineering, Institute of Cyberscience, CIMP-3D

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To support the health and well-being of the University community this fall, Penn State has implemented a contact tracing process in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as part of a layered tracing and testing approach for students and employees across all campuses. To limit community spread and transmission, the University’s contact tracing process focuses on identifying, notifying and monitoring students and employees who came in close contact with a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is presumed positive, while they were infectious.

The Penn State contact tracing program scales up existing contact tracing protocols and support services in place at the University. Tracing is directed by the COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC) and operated centrally by the Office of Student Affairs, with support and representation from the Commonwealth Campuses. The University and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are working in tandem to support state requirements for case investigation, which is the process of contacting those who test positive for COVID-19, or are presumed positive, and then reaching out to their close contacts.

The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students and employees can expect:

— Step 1: Penn State will identify individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or presumed positive.

— Step 2: Nursing staff will initiate contact with positive or presumed positive students and employees.

— Step 3: Contact tracers will communicate with employees and students identified as close contacts about health quarantine expectations and offer support.

— Step 4: Case managers will reach out daily, or on an as-needed basis, to students in isolation and/or quarantine to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not permitted to attend class.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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Penn State’s contact tracing process consists of multiple layers of outreach. This process prioritizes getting the COVID-positive individual into isolation. The first layer involves reaching out to the individual who has tested positive for COVID. Next, contact tracers contact those who have been identified by the COVID-positive individual as close contacts. Finally, contact tracers will notify others who might need to know, such as faculty members and instructors via an email from a “Student Support Services” address via our Maxient system. An example of the notification letter is provided here. We will continue to refine and improve this process as we learn more this semester.

The contact tracing process begins within 24 hours of the University learning of a positive case. Instructors and faculty will be notified that a student in their class has a health-related issue that necessitates their absence from class, unless that students has signed a release allowing for more information to be shared. It is possible, even likely, that a student who has tested positive will notify their professors before the University is able to do so. If a faculty member receives notification from the student prior to receiving formal notification from Penn State, they do not need to contact UHS. The good news is that if a student advises their faculty member directly, then the faculty member will have additional time to work with that student on any adaptions needed to help the student be successful in learning while in isolation or quarantine.

Recently, the University introduced electronic processes that enable someone to self-identify that they have tested positive for COVID or that they may be a close contact of a COVID-positive individual. This may shorten the amount of time that passes before a faculty member is notified of a positive case in their class.

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Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has been gearing up for months for the return to campus by carefully evaluating 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 (CDC) and undertaking intensive corrective and preventive maintenance for every building at every campus. Learn more about OPPs procedures and plans here.

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Penn State has launched an integrated effort to remind faculty, staff and students at all campuses and in adjacent communities of the importance of doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Mask Up or Pack Up” is a research-based campaign that is also launched in State College to create a seamless message for students and other members of the community. The creative execution, “Mask Up or Pack Up,” is grounded in insights from surveys and focus groups comprised of students, faculty, staff and the community, and is a direct expectation for everyone to take personal actions to help create a safer environment as students return to campuses across the commonwealth. Research revealed that the top two concerns from key stakeholders include being forced to return to a fully remote environment, as well as the critical need to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our community. The intent is to reinforce the Wolf Administration and University safety guidelines, shift attitudes and behaviors of the hard-to-persuade, and make essential preventative behaviors widely practiced.

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Students and employees should become familiar with guidelines and expectations for quarantine and isolation for this semester, as part of the University’s comprehensive multi-layered approach to testing, contact tracing and monitoring in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While isolation and quarantine are both intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.

The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.

Quarantine:

— Since symptoms typically develop between two to 14 days after exposure, students and employees who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and/or been identified during the University’s contact tracing process must quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the individual, in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.

— Faculty and staff should quarantine at home, students living on campus will quarantine in space identified on their campus, and case managers will evaluate quarantine needs for students living off campus as part of the contact tracing process. During quarantine, you may or may not develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you do experience symptoms, please contact your health care provider; students can contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or their primary care provider.

Isolation:

— Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate. Faculty and staff should isolate at home, students living on campus will stay in isolation space on campus, and students living off campus will be accommodated with on-campus isolation space to the extent that the University is able. Individuals should not return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.

— According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be with others after at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared, after at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and after symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, your health care provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).

During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or primary care provider. Faculty and staff who test positive will need to report their positive status to their supervisor, so their unit can begin the contact tracing process, and self-isolate off campus. For more information about the University’s testing and contact tracing plan, read this story in Penn State News.

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The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors announced Sept. 16 that fall sports will resume, beginning with football on Oct. 23, following adoption of stringent medical protocols and guidelines. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling, are forthcoming.

University leaders have affirmed that health and safety is of the utmost priority as fall sports resume this semester, in a message to the community. Steps being taking include prohibiting tailgating; working with student leaders and organizations; following masking, social distancing and other COVID-related health guidelines; and continuing to partner with local and community leadership.

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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.

Multi-layer cloth masks or procedure masks are the preferred type of face covering. There 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. At this time, it is recommended that all faculty, staff and students wear a multi-layer mask or procedure mask. All face coverings must cover the nose and chin.

Guidelines surrounding the use of cloth masks are available on the EHS website and also on the University’s virus information website. If you encounter someone wearing a mask with an exhaust valve in the instructional or work setting, respond to the person as though they forgot to wear a mask. Offer them an extra mask and remind the individual to not wear a mask with a valve in the future.

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In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidelines, wearing face masks and adhering to social 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.

To aid in this effort, the University purchased 500,000 masks to be distributed across all campuses for people who need them. In addition, distance markers, directional arrows, signs and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations, which also will be reconfigured with social-distancing principles in mind. Tables, chairs and lounge furniture will be rearranged and/or blocked for use in some locations, and posting of maximum occupancy and do-not-congregate signs for most areas will become the norm, in accordance with the governor’s higher education guidance.

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Above all, the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff is the University’s top priority. Individuals who are sick, think they have been exposed to coronavirus, exhibit symptoms, and/or test positive for COVID-19 are expected to stay home and/or leave work right away. Employees should isolate, monitor their symptoms and seek medical care as needed. The University has developed isolation guidance for employees. Employees should notify their supervisors, so their unit can begin a process to conduct contact tracing, notify individuals in the unit to monitor for symptoms, and begin temperature checks and health screenings for those who have been in contact with the sick individual. Policies and programs will be in place to support employees who are recovering from and/or caring for partners and family members with COVID-19. Most individuals who need to miss work due to COVID-19 to care for themselves or another individual are eligible to receive pay (up to certain maximums) for up to the first 80 hours, depending on full-time or part-time status, regardless of available sick time. Additional time off will be paid through accrued sick leave or short-term disability, if elected.

Penn State Absence Management will answer questions and assist employees with additional needs.

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When a student or employee is identified as being positive for COVID-19, Penn State nursing staff will reach out to them to provide support and isolation guidance and to collect information about that person’s close contacts. A Penn State contact tracer will then reach out to students and employees identified as close contacts to gain additional information and provide directions and health precautions. As part the University’s partnership with the Pennsylvanyia Department of Health, a contact tracer from the state also will reach out to Penn State students and employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify close contacts who are not affiliated with the University; the state will follow up with those close contacts.

In accordance with state guidance, close contacts are defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick (or when they test positive, if asymptomatic) until the time the patient was isolated.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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The University is employing strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community and national levels.

Penn State has put in place a robust COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program consisting of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

The University will conduct surveillance testing of faculty, staff and students on its campuses throughout the semester, testing about 1% of our campus populations (about 700 people) per day. The plan includes random and risk-stratified surveillance testing as well as asymptomatic testing for individuals who are identified in the contact-tracing process.

Additionally, the University has set up on-campus testing capabilities using existing resources in a new Testing and Surveillance Center, which will be used for surveillance testing at University Park.

Penn State will hire additional staff to serve as contact tracers as needed to support all campuses and plans to enhance access to early health-care consultation and treatment. Contact-tracing supports virus case detection and is designed to help prevent future outbreaks. The University also is building capacity to isolate and quarantine individuals who test positive, including support for isolated persons, to facilitate proper medical care.

More detailed information about symptomatic and asymptomatic testing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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Maintaining the health and safety of the campus and local communities is the top priority driving Penn State’s decision-making and policy changes as it relates to the pandemic.

As part of a layered approach, Penn State has implemented a COVID-19 testing program that consists of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

In addition, the University has developed requirements for students to meet prior to returning to campus and local communities this semester. For example, all students must self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus. Those who are sick, think you have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing symptoms, should continue to isolate and not return to campus until cleared by a medical professional.

Penn State also will encourage flu shots for all students before the onset of flu season, or certainly before the start of the spring semester, with an eye toward addressing the complicated season that is likely to include flu along with COVID-19, and to reducing as much as possible, a demand for health facilities in order to maintain capacity for the severely ill. At University Park, Penn State’s largest campus, officials are working closely with Mount Nittany Medical Center as part of collaboration with local public health entities, in accordance with state guidance. In addition, partnerships in the communities in which Commonwealth Campuses are situated also are taking place.

All actions being implemented are based on guidance from Penn State health experts and scientists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, among others. The University will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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The University has reopened campus child care centers, consistent with all state and public health guidelines, to facilitate employees’ return to working on campus. The Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Center at University Park reopened on Aug. 19. Daybridge, which is managed by Bright Horizons, on the University Park campus reopened on Aug. 17. Information regarding Penn State child care centers will continue to be shared with families and employees.

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As part of a layered approach to mitigating the spread of coronavirus, Penn State committed to conducting surveillance testing on all of its campuses. The University plans to test at least 1% of its population of students, faculty, and staff who are on campuses this fall. Surveillance will be adapted based on lessons learned and testing resources will pivot as needed based on surveillance data outcomes. The results of that testing will be reported on the COVID-19 dashboard and will be updated every Monday. The dashboard also incorporates data from symptomatic testing on campus, results of student-athletes tested through Intercollegiate Athletics and test results from private health care providers that are reported to University Health Services (UHS) or Occupational Medicine.

Please note that the surveillance testing protocol begins on Aug. 24, the first day of classes, so data on the dashboard will be limited for the first week until test results are returned. Additionally, the dashboard does not include pre-arrival testing results, as those tests were not conducted on campus and individuals who tested positive were notified to stay at home to isolate for 10 days and until all symptoms resolve and be cleared by a health professional before returning to a campus location.

Visit this link to review Penn State’s COVID-19 dashboard.

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​The Internal Revenue Service recently allowed employers to offer workers flexibility with their health care plans and Flexible Spending Accounts, including health care and dependent care. Penn State is allowing employees to make some adjustments to their health care plans. More details can be found at https://news.psu.edu/story/626070/2020/07/22/administration/irs-allows-benefits-changes-response-covid-19.

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To help create a safer learning, living and working environment for all students, faculty and staff, new classroom policies will be in effect this fall across Penn State’s campuses in alignment with public health recommendations and Gov. Tom Wolf’s requirements for higher education institutions. Specific policy guidance has been posted to the Office of Student Conduct website.

To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required for all students and employees in all University buildings, including in classrooms, labs and offices, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible.

While high levels of compliance are expected based on feedback from recent student and employee University surveys, those who put others at risk by not following the University’s requirements will be held accountable in a manner consistent with how other violations of Penn State guidelines and policies are managed.

To learn more, read this Penn State News story.

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Governor’s Guidance

An order issued by Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine on July 15 prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 25 and outdoor gatherings of more than 250. (Note: The order prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 25 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.

Indoor meetings and events
Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required. All participants must wear masks and meeting/event organizers must take into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests to hold indoor meetings and events of between 11 and 25 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below). No indoor meetings or events of more than 25 participants are permitted.

Outdoor meetings and events
Outdoor meetings of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Masks are required when six feet of distance between participants cannot be maintained. Requests for outdoor meetings of between 11 and 250 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below. No outdoor meetings or events of more than 250 participants are permitted.

Approval Process
Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor meeting of between 11 and 25 participants, or an outdoor meeting or event of between 11 and 250 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 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn if the event is indoors and plans for abiding by social distancing guidelines must be included;
—Provide evidence that employees requesting to attend the meeting or event have been approved via the Return to Work process. A request must be made to return employees to the workplace at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/;
—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 ‘return to work’ approval status of employees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

Events should be scheduled with the full understanding that if the county in which the campus is located moves to the Yellow or Red phase or if state guidance otherwise changes, the guidelines for the county must be followed and the event may need to be cancelled.

Campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red Phase
At campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, no meetings or events of any kind with more than 10 attendees may be scheduled. For essential indoor events of between 11 and 25, or outdoor events of between 11 and 250, at campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, approval to hold the event must be sought from Executive Vice President and Provost, Nicholas P. Jones, at provost@psu.edu. All requests must include a description of how social distancing will be maintained at the event.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas
Meetings that require travel between campuses that are in the Yellow or Red phase, or where participants are from states where cases of COVID-19 are rising, should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel 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.

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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 reservations@psu.edu.

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The University is working with the Wolf Administration on its Back to State plans and has confirmed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the order limiting indoor gatherings to fewer than 25 people does not apply to classrooms. Other indoor gatherings, however, cannot exceed 25 individuals and must adhere to masking and social distancing requirements. The University will continue to work closely with the Wolf Administration on its return-to-campus plans and is prepared to shift quickly as the pandemic and resulting orders and guidelines evolve, all with a focus on the health and safety of Penn State campuses and surrounding communities

All schools in Pennsylvania, including universities, continue to be subject to guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which are designed to aid in safely resuming in-person instruction. These guidelines allow for larger groups in classrooms as long as face masking and social distancing are in place. The University has committed to meeting and, where possible, exceeding the Wolf Administration’s guidelines.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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Beginning July 1, 2020, employees must seek permission for University-affiliated domestic travel, including air travel, from their unit executive (e.g., dean, chancellor). Employees are asked to limit travel where possible and consider virtual options that might replace or reduce the need to travel. College of Medicine faculty at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, both clinical and basic science, are expected to follow the shared guidelines issued together by Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Penn State Health.

Employees wishing to travel should:

• Carefully review the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance.

• Research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling and ensure that they can comply with the restrictions.

• Obtain permission to travel from their unit executive.

• Arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, when possible.

Once approved for travel, employees must comply with the following:

• Practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.

• Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of their work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others and as advised by the area(s) to which they are traveling.

• Travel one person per vehicle unless an exceptional circumstance dictates otherwise.

• Observe the following guidelines when returning home:

Domestic travel to/from other states, or to/from a yellow/red county:

Asymptomatic individuals who have been given permission for on-site work can continue to work following the “Health Monitoring and Temperature Screening” process in the COVID-19 Supervisors Instructions.
—For 14 days after returning home, employees must take their temperature at home within one hour before reporting to work and report “ok” status to supervisor or designee before arriving to work.
—Individuals who become ill/symptomatic must stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Domestic travel between green counties within PA:
—No restrictions for asymptomatic individuals. Employees who become ill should stay home and follow COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Employees commuting to the workplace between counties within Pennsylvania or other states:

• Employees returning to the workplace at this time must have prior approval.

• Individuals should monitor their health; if they become ill/symptomatic, stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

• Individuals do not need to report health condition unless they become ill/symptomatic.

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Deans, chancellors and institute directors are responsible for faculty, staff and student compliance with each of their unit’s plans. If an individual is aware of any noncompliance, they should report it to the appropriate dean, chancellor or institute director. Alternatively, they can report the situation to their facility coordinator, who will then communicate with the appropriate unit leader. Persistent noncompliance, when confirmed, may result in removal of the individual’s approval for conducting research on campus or at other facilities.

Additional information regarding return-to-research plans can be found at https://www.research.psu.edu/COVID_return_research.

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The University is concerned by the current trends and continuously monitoring state and national disease data and following guidance from state and local health officials. Based on that guidance, and in consultation with faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health, the University is prepared to adjust its approach as necessary, including the possibility that Penn State would need to shift the semester to a fully remote learning environment once again. The University and Governor Wolf have previously stressed the importance of following guidelines to protect community health and minimize the spread of the virus, and cautioned that lax behaviors could undo progress toward reopening campuses.

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Classroom Guidance for Instructors is posted on the website for the Office of Student Conduct. This document describes the steps that faculty can take to provide a positive learning environment and manage COVID-related concerns in the classroom. The guidance includes a sample statement for faculty to include in their course syllabi as well as a series of steps that faculty can take if a student fails to adhere to health and safety requirements. Students who fail to comply with requirements will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and will not be allowed to return until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process. For more information on how to prepare to manage classrooms this fall, watch this video featuring Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

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If an exception to conduct a search is granted, academic units should use Zoom or other virtual tools for interviews whenever possible to prioritize the health of candidates and interview participants and their families. On-campus interviews with international candidates should be held virtually with campus visits postponed until Penn State permits international travel. Interviews should be as consistent as possible for each candidate and ensure that evaluation of all applicants is based on the extent to which applicants meet the criteria for the position.

Candidates for faculty positions must follow Penn State’s travel guidance. Employees arranging and/or attending in-person meetings or events related to a candidate’s on-campus visit must comply with meeting and event guidance. Non-employees who participate in meetings or events associated with a campus visit must be approved to attend by the sponsoring unit’s executive per the guidance pertaining to visitors.

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Existing Visiting Scholars

Those Visiting Scholars whose applications have been approved and have a visa stamp may come to Penn State as planned. Those who have not yet obtained a visa stamp are asked to reschedule their arrival until July 1, 2021. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

New Applications

Based on the U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory and suspension or limitation of visa services in many countries, Penn State will begin processing new domestic and international Visiting Scholar applications on March 1, 2021 for arrival on or after July 1, 2021. Applications currently in the system will not be approved until March and prospective Visiting Scholars should be contacted and their arrival rescheduled until on or after July 1, 2021. Requests for exceptions may be made to vpfa@psu.edu by the college or campus executive. If circumstances change due to COVID, the March 1 date may be revisited.

Extensions for Current Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholar extension requests will continue to be reviewed. If a Visiting Scholar is scheduled to depart but wants to stay at Penn State due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extension request must be submitted in DocFinity. Please work with the staff in the academic unit who submit Visiting Scholar requests. Questions from units regarding extensions and required documentation should be directed the dean or chancellor designee in each unit. If assistance is needed from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, contact Mindy Kowalski at msk22@psu.edu.

Paid J-1 Scholars

DISSA will work with new post-doc foreign nationals to determine a realistic start date, taking into consideration: U.S. embassy services limitations, current travel restrictions, and the needs of the department. Unit executives should send exception requests to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the appointment is essential. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

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The University developed plans to support the health and safety of all employees during the transition back to in-person work functions. These plans include enhanced disinfecting protocols, required mask-wearing, and alterations to classroom and office environments to allow for proper social distancing. Even with these measures, Penn State recognizes that employees who are part of a vulnerable population, such as those who are immunocompromised, or those who live with individuals who are part of a vulnerable group, may have concerns about returning to the workplace.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who are in this situation and have concerns about returning to on-site work should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

Employees who believe that they have a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation or leave should contact the Affirmative Action Office or Absence Management, as appropriate.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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Faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Additional information is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is prepared to be nimble and responsive based on the latest information, monitoring and evolving virus infection rates. The University will employ strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community, state and national levels to see if a pattern is emerging so leaders can act accordingly.

All classes that are planned to have in-person meetings will have contingency plans for reverting to remote instruction modalities if health circumstances require ending in-person learning earlier than Nov. 20. All future decisions will be based on the best available public-health information, in the interest of the safety and well-being of Penn State students, faculty and staff.

A number of factors may lead to additional distancing measures or adjustments to campus-based residential course delivery. These factors include changes in addition to the virus caseload of a campus or region such as community spread, quarantine and isolation capacity, a county’s status under the governor’s red-yellow-green guidelines, the capacity of the local health care system, community compliance with health and safety protocols, and additional risks such as the onset of an early virulent flu season. Faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health are continuously monitoring county, state and local disease data, which will allow the University to respond to any changes in the pandemic that would require proactive steps to mitigate and manage any potential outbreak. Decisions about potential changes will be made on a campus-by-campus basis, taking into consideration guidance from public health officials.

As Penn State planned for a return to campus and work, University leaders and the University’s 16 coronavirus task groups developed numerous contingency strategies to support health and safety, including a number of “off and on ramp” scenarios that will allow Penn State to quickly respond and continue its teaching and learning mission if changes are needed during the semester.

These scenarios focus on health and safety, flexibility to change course as circumstances require, continuing to provide critical services, and following local and state COVID guidance and requirements. Examples of possible off-ramps include suspending use of specific buildings and spaces, quarantining a program or cohort, suspending or curtailing some in-person programs, quarantining residents of a specific hall, pausing in-person classes for a defined period, pausing programs and reducing operations at a specific campus, and transitioning all programs and classes at a campus to remote delivery. These scenarios include one in which Penn State must send students home from a campus and revert to remote learning. If our public health advisers become concerned that it is no longer safe for students and employees to be on our campuses, we are prepared to quickly take action and change course.

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The health and well-being of the Penn State community is the University’s first priority as we welcome the community back to our campuses. Significant prevention and public health procedures have been implemented to help maintain the health and safety of our students, employees and local communities. Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Specific to public health, as part of a “new normal” for returning to campus, all students, faculty and staff members will be expected to take personal actions to help protect themselves and others on campus — the success of the University’s plans will be largely dependent on everyone doing their part. While on campus, students, employees and visitors are required to wear face masks or coverings, practice social distancing, practice hand hygiene by frequently washing and sanitizing, follow protocols for covering coughs and sneezes, stay home if sick, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. The University will employ enhanced cleaning and sanitation, hygiene stations, plexiglass, signage and various other measures to provide for physical distancing and other health and safety needs.

Additional guidance for members of the University will continue to be provided at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/, which will be updated regularly with the latest information and guidance as we all work together toward a safe return.

Since March, more than 250 individuals serving on 16 task groups and subcommittees have prepared for a coordinated return to on-campus working, learning and living for students and employees across each of the University’s campuses. Penn State has taken a robust public health and science-based approach to inform how it is managing social distancing, limiting the size of events, and providing learning environments that are as safe as reasonably possible. Penn State will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities that have been outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

University leadership and the task groups have worked with governance and advisory bodies, including the University Faculty Senate and the University Staff Advisory Council, to work through the details of course delivery, classroom and workplace safety, and other aspects of the return to campus.

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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 flexible mix of remote, in-person, or a hybrid of both modes, mixing remote and in-person, 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. Following University guidance, campuses and academic units will determine how to deliver smaller classes, which may need to be offered remotely due to health and safety considerations for faculty and students, restrictions that physical distancing places on class size and room availability, and the status of virus spread in local communities.

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.

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On-campus research activities have resumed using a phased approach. As part of the return to on-campus research, unit-specific processes and protocols have been developed to prioritize the health and well-being of researchers, faculty, staff, students and the community. The return to on-campus research will be gradual, and all researchers who are able should continue to work remotely. The specifics of returning to on-campus research will look different for each college, campus, institute or unit. Investigators with questions regarding the specifics of returning to on-campus research activity should contact their dean, chancellor or institute director. Guidance for return-to-research plans are updated regularly and can be found at https://www.research.psu.edu/COVID_return_research.

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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. University Park students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should begin the screening process for coronavirus over the phone by calling the UHS Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463. Students at Commonwealth Campuses should contact their on-campus health services office or a local physician’s office. Penn State urges faculty and staff to contact their health care provider if they have a cough, respiratory symptoms, a fever or have concerns related to COVID-19, and to stay home as well.

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Penn State has significant prevention and public health procedures and strategies in place to support the health and safety of students, employees and local communities – the top priority in resuming on-campus activities. Given Pennsylvania’s county-by-county phased pandemic management plan, the status of each Penn State campus may vary, particularly for those that may be located in an area of the commonwealth where various restrictions are in place due to the number of COVID-19 cases in that region.

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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.

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The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) announced operational plans for the fall 2020 semester on July 24 that will impact both campus and community transit service beginning Saturday, Aug. 22.

Service changes that will be in effect throughout the fall semester include:

—No Blue Loop or White Loop campus transit service.

—No Sunday transit services.

—All CATA services will begin at 6 a.m. and end no later than 12:30 a.m. each day, with reduced service between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

While Blue Loop and White Loop campus service will not be available, CATA will continue to operate the Red Link and Green Link campus routes, with additional service to be added to the Green Link. Penn State Transportation Services will also continue to operate its two Campus Shuttle routes, though with reduced capacity.

In the interest of health and safety, Penn State and CATA made a joint decision not to run the Blue and White Loops this fall. The Blue Loop and White Loop are University-contracted services, and Penn State instead made those buses and drivers available to CATA for other service routes in the community that transport students, faculty and staff to and from campus. By redirecting these resources to peak demand periods for these routes, CATA expects to reduce the average number of riders per vehicle to help mitigate COVID-19 risk associated with longer wait periods in densely populated areas and confined spaces.

CATA’s passenger protocols

CATA, however, will not be specifically restricting the number of riders on each vehicle but will require all passengers to wear a face covering while waiting for or riding on CATA services, and to practice social distancing when and where possible, as part of its fall 2020 passenger protocols. CATA has also implemented a daily schedule of disinfecting all vehicles through rigorous industrial electrostatic cleaning and sanitation. Individuals will need to determine if use of CATA services during the COVID-19 pandemic is right for them, but it is strongly encouraged that use be limited to essential trips. Students, faculty and staff living closer to campus are encouraged to walk or bike where possible.

To provide the best opportunity for a more socially distanced riding experience, riders are encouraged to plan trips in advance and to ride during off-peak times. Real-time bus locations and arrival predictions are available through the MyStop, TransLoc or Penn State Go mobile apps.

Full details on CATA’s fall 2020 operational plans and passenger protocols can be found at the CATA website. For questions related to CATA service, call 814-238-2282 or email cata@catabus.com. CATA is a joint municipal authority that serves the six Centre Region municipalities, as well as Bellefonte Borough and Spring and Benner townships.

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This is understandable and there are resources available for both students and employees who are struggling and who need support with the transition back to campus. Students can contact their academic advisers for guidance. The Red Folder initiative is a guide to help faculty, staff and others who interact with students to recognize, respond effectively to, and refer distressed students at Penn State. Students at University Park can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 814-863-0395 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students at Commonwealth Campuses can contact the CAPS office at their campus location. When CAPS is closed, both the Penn State Crisis Line (877-229-6400) and the Crisis Text Line (text “LIONS” to 741741) are still available 24/7 for students at all campuses who are in crisis or need support. Faculty and staff who are in distress are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program, a free, confidential resource to be used as a first line of defense for personal or work-related concerns for yourself or your family.

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Yes, social distancing will be required for all in-person activities on campus this fall, including in classes and labs, as a means to reduce possible virus transmission and to reduce the potential disruption to students’ learning by needing to quarantine close contacts. When in class, both students and instructors should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arm lengths) between one another. The task groups continue to review all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Changes will be communicated for those that have already registered, and opportunities to work with advisers will be made available. Some non-classroom spaces will be repurposed for instruction and every class that meets in person will allow for appropriate social distancing. Additional measures — for example, assigned seating and monitoring of attendance to help facilitate contact tracing will be deployed as considered necessary. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, and classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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Leading up to the fall semester, the University conducted a review of all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Based on a variety of factors, for example the needs and size of a class, in-person classes were reassigned to larger rooms to accommodate social distancing requirements.

Other changes to classrooms included revising room layouts; establishing a distanced space for instructors; and identifying room capacities and potential alternative spaces for classes to take place. These efforts, along with the fall’s flexible educational model with some classes delivered remotely, will lower classroom population density, allow for social distancing and meet both educational and safety goals.

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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 here: https://keepteaching.psu.edu/instructional-issues-for-return-to-resident-instruction/

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By following University and CDC guidelines for masking, social distancing and hand hygiene, students can have a direct impact in achieving an extended return to learning and living on campus this fall. Upon returning to campus, students are asked to take personal responsibility both on and off campus and to sign the Penn State COVID-19 Compact to help uphold the health of the community by following University guidelines.

Mask wearing and social distancing will be required in class, and faculty members have discretion to make delivery modality adjustments if they have concerns about adherence to University requirements. Faculty members have long had considerable influence over behavior in the classroom, either through informal conversations with students or through grading and class participation polices. Students will be warned first, but faculty have the authority to remove students from class if they refuse to comply. Where students fail to comply despite these efforts, faculty members can refer students to the University’s conduct process through the Office of Student Conduct, and students will be required to participate in a disciplinary process before they can return to the classroom. Faculty have received guidance on enforcement, and they will be supported in these critical measures.

To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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Many facilities are open, however, there may be occupancy limits in place and hours of operation may be adjusted for various buildings and facilities to support the health and safety of the campus community. Individuals are encouraged to check a building of facility’s website for specific hours and availability. For the latest updates on Campus Recreation facilities at University Park, visit studentaffairs.psu.edu/campusrec.

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As always, the safety of faculty, staff, students and the community is our top priority. A return to work for employees is being approached deliberately and is being organized into phases. Some employees have continued to work on campuses to perform mission-critical work and others have begun returning in stages, including researchers who are unable to perform their work from home. Moving forward, other employees whose work must be completed on site will continue to return to campuses. Employees who are currently telecommuting but whose work can be more effectively performed on campus will be the next group to return to on-site work.

As the semester unfolds and the University continues to monitor the situation, employees who can effectively work remotely will be the last group to return to their workspaces, if needed. More information will be shared with individual units and employees regarding when they should expect to return to campus. In these cases, managers will be asked to develop plans that will facilitate the safe return of staff members, which will include social distancing, wearing appropriate face coverings, limiting the numbers of people in offices at any time and plans for additional cleaning.

Additional and up-to-date information related to return to work is available at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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At this time employee temperature screening requirements will only apply in units with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, employees are strongly encouraged to self-monitor their temperature and complete the COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app daily before coming to campus for work. Anyone who has a fever or feels sick should stay home and consult their health care provider. Additional protocols to uphold employee health include social distancing and masking requirements in the workplace. To learn more, visit https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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For the safety of all employees and to align with social distancing to maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance among employees, supervisors have been asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating, including moving furniture, removing excess chairs, and reconfiguring seating as appropriate. In cases where necessary, such as spaces where employees interact face-to-face with students and customers, plexiglass or other dividers have been installed. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues have been installed in high-traffic areas, common areas, and other shared locations across the campuses.

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.

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Changes will be made to offices and workspaces, as needed, to support social distancing and prioritize employees’ health and well-being. For example, supervisors will be asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating or stagger work shifts, breaks, and arrival and departure times to align with social distancing and maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance between employees. Meetings should be conducted virtually when possible, and employees should avoid use of break rooms, kitchens and other shared spaces as a gathering area. To learn more, visit sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

As a reminder, unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

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Yes. Employees will receive two cloth face masks. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all employees will be required to wear masks — ideally cloth — while on campus, including outdoors, in hallways, classrooms, shared work areas, and other public spaces. Masks should be worn at all times, even while practicing social distancing. However, masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, when isolated in a private office or vehicle, or when use adversely affects an employee’s safety or health.

Employees isolated in their personal office space, which is not shared with any other colleagues, do not need to wear a mask, per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. However, when an employee leaves their individual office or has invited a colleague into their office, they must wear a mask. Wearing masks while working at one’s desk is required in a shared office or cubicle setting, even when social distancing is maintained. Additional information on universal masking is available in the “Employee Guidance for Working on Campus” resource on the Penn State Environmental Health and Safety COVID-19 website.

Face shields are not considered an adequate substitute for masks, but should be worn in combination with a cloth or procedure mask in certain circumstances outlined in the “PPE and Instruction Recommendations per Learning Environment” section of the Universal Masking and PPE Recommendations document. Additional information related to PPE and the use of face shields also is available on the University’s Keep Teaching website.

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Yes. Face masks, soap and hand-sanitizer stations, disinfectant sprays and wipes will be available for all units to purchase through General Stores. The University also has procured several thousand additional hand-sanitizer stations, which will be placed in high-traffic areas.

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The health of faculty and staff members remains the University’s top priority as part of a phased return, and processes and protocols are being put in place to help support safe working environments across the campuses.

The University does not expect faculty who are immunocompromised, live with someone who may be, or have other special circumstances to teach in a physical classroom. Faculty who have concerns about teaching in person should work with their unit executive (dean, chancellor or a designee) to request work adjustments and discuss available options. Units are being advised that faculty requests to work remotely due to such concerns should be allowed if feasible.

Faculty members are urged to consider a variety of available instructional modalities that may give them the flexibility to fulfill their teaching duties. In addition, faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with their supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Units are encouraged to remain flexible and think creatively about work adjustments while continuing to meet their educational goals.

Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who have concerns about returning to on-site work, including those who are immunocompromised, live with someone who may be, or have other special circumstances, should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for faculty, staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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As part of the planning process for a phased return to work, processes and protocols have been put in place to support supervisors and employees when a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19. Among these protocols, contact tracing will begin and employees and students who have been in close contact with the individual will be notified, asked to quarantine while the individual is tested (even if asymptomatic), and to begin monitoring for symptoms. The individual’s work area will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedure in compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols.

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Given uncertainties about the status of local schools for the upcoming school year, as well as the individual circumstances of employees, the University is asking supervisors to be flexible in working with employees who find themselves without child care. Telecommuting may be an option for employees currently working remotely who can continue to perform the duties of their jobs from home. Faculty members teaching in-person classes in the fall should discuss their circumstances with their academic supervisors. However, all employees need to have individual conversations with their supervisor/HR regarding their specific circumstances. For some employees, FMLA-Public Health Emergency leave also may be available. (Please visit https://psu.app.box.com/s/6i0inw2xdp8viazb75tz68hz4gwgnp1c for more information.)

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Once classes transition to remote delivery, each unit leader will determine who needs to be on site based on work responsibilities and unit needs at the time. Employees should work with their direct supervisor to determine if they should continue to report to campus or if they will be able to work remotely.

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There are no changes to the University holiday schedule. The University will continue to observe the staff holidays set in Penn State policy and respective collective bargaining agreements.

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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. 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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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 are developing protocols to limit public access to campus buildings. Units are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with visitors remotely whenever possible. Students should not have visitors, and information for prospective students about virtual campus visits is available here.

Employees wishing to have a non-employee visit campus for any period of time must make a request to their unit executive. 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.

Visitors must comply with all COVID health and safety guidelines during travel and while on campus.

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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 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://keepteaching.psu.edu/.

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The following provides information about the availability of campus and local transportation offerings. To support social distancing is strongly encouraged that transit services be used for essential trips only. Students, faculty and staff who are able are urged to walk or bike.

Campus Shuttle:

Penn State Transportation Services will operate its two Campus Shuttle routes this fall with reduced capacity of a maximum of five riders per vehicle. Masks are required. It is strongly encouraged that use of the campus shuttles be limited to essential trips only to maintain space for those with mobility disabilities. For more information, visit: transportation.psu.edu/campus-shuttle.

Hershey Shuttle:

The Hershey Shuttle will not operate until further notice. For the latest information, visit research.psu.edu/shuttle.

CATA:

CATA announced service changes for the fall, which went into effect on Saturday, Aug. 22, and will remain in place through the end of the fall 2020 semester. CATA’s fall schedule is available here.

Service changes that will be in effect throughout the fall semester include:

—No Blue Loop or White Loop campus transit service.

—No Sunday transit services.

—All CATA services will begin at 6 a.m. and end no later than 12:30 a.m. each day, with reduced service between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

While Blue Loop and White Loop campus service will not be available, CATA will continue to operate the Red Link and Green Link campus routes this fall, with additional service to be added to the Green Link.

Full details on CATA’s fall 2020 operational plans and passenger protocols can be found at the CATA website, as well as in this Penn State News article.

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All University-sponsored international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

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. After this review, all travel requests will be sent to the Global Safety Office for review by the International Restricted Travel Committee prior to final approval.

Employees wishing to travel internationally must request approval at least one month prior to the expected date of departure. Requestors must must receive approval prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. Once approved, all international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist approved international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).

Requests must contain the following elements:

1. Identify why the travel is critical.
2. Provide a proposed travel itinerary with the expected dates of travel and country or countries to be visited.
3. Review health and safety information for the country or countries you plan to visit, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

—Please describe the prevalent risks currently present in the country or countries where you are proposing to travel. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory for the country you are traveling to as well as United Healthcare Global WorldWatch report to research current risks associated with your travel.
—For the risks you have identified, please explain how you would prepare for and mitigate those risks and respond to possible emergencies.
—Please indicate any previous travel experience and/or language skills that may be relevant to the country in which you plan to travel.

4. Carefully review the PA Dept of Health Travel guidance.
5. Review the Penn State COVID-19 site.
6. Please research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which you are traveling and ensure that you can comply with the restrictions.
7. Provide documentation that the institution/organization you will be visiting has provided you with permission, if applicable.
8. Your unit executive should submit this request on your behalf and indicate their approval and indicate their approval and affirmation that the research being conducted is essential.

Please note the following:

1. All requests to travel must be submitted at least one month prior to the date of departure.
2. All international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel.
3. Practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.
4. Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of your work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others and as advised by the area(s) to which you are traveling.
5. A quarantine of 14 days should still be required upon arrival at their destination and a similar instruction to remain at home and monitor health for 14 days will apply should they return to the United States under current guidelines.
6. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

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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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Penn State Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in coordination with University Health Services and Human Resources, has developed new protocols related to COVID-19 to help protect the health of employees who are working on campus.

These processes include instructions for supervisors who are responding to reported COVID-19 cases, the University’s cloth mask requirement, cleaning procedures, and guidance for employees working on campus. In addition, they include direction for employees to contact Penn State Absence Management at absence@psu.edu or 814-865-1782 if they are self-quarantining, exposed to or develop symptoms of the virus.

Additional information is available on Penn State News and at https://ehs.psu.edu/covid19.

For additional health and safety FAQs for employees working on campus, visit https://ehs.psu.edu/sites/ehs/files/employee_working_on_campus_questions.pdf. 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.

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The health of the Penn State community is our highest priority, and we must all do our part in preventing the possible spread of coronavirus. Penn State faculty and staff are encouraged to stay home if they feel sick, particularly if they have a fever. We are asking faculty and employee supervisors to be flexible with work and class absences.

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See HRG11 Family and Medical Leave.

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What are the dates for the spring 2021 semester?

With a focus on health and safety, limiting travel and mitigating the spread of the virus among the community, the spring semester will begin one week later than normal on Jan. 18 to avoid the peak of flu season in Pennsylvania. The 15-week instruction window for the semester will begin on Jan. 18 and end on April 30, with final examinations on May 3 -7, as previously scheduled. MLK Jr. Day (Jan. 18) will be observed, and classes will begin on Jan. 19. There will be no spring break week to reduce travel and limit the spread of the virus into our campus communities. At this time, there is no designated remote-only learning period scheduled for spring, however the University is preparing to be flexible and can pivot, including shifting to a remote start, if needed based on a variety of health and safety factors and data. The spring 2021 semester schedule will be available on Oct. 15 and all students will register for courses before Nov. 20. To learn more, visit this link.

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To maintain social distancing protocols and meet or exceed state and national health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the flexible instructional modes developed for the fall 2020 semester, along with limited classroom capacities, will remain in place at all Penn State campuses in spring 2021, provided that the public health landscape allows for in-person instruction. Course delivery options will include in-person, mixed-mode, remote synchronous and remote asynchronous instruction. To learn more, visit keeplearning.psu.edu.

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Students will be able to access the spring 2021 schedule of classes with information about the instructional mode for each course on LionPATH beginning Oct. 15. Once the schedule of courses is published, students should meet with their advisers to plan their courses and make sure they are on track for important milestones such as entry to major and graduation. Registration will begin on Nov. 1 for graduate students and Nov. 2 for undergraduate students. Students are encouraged to register for classes by Nov. 20 before they leave for Thanksgiving break. Students also are encouraged to consult the “Registration Timetable” on the Office of the University Registrar website to determine when they are eligible to register, based on the number of credits they have earned.

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The University’s top priority for spring planning, as it was for fall, is the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and local community members. A working group with more than 20 members from across the University considered a variety of options for spring to build on strategies from the fall, while considering the need to adapt quickly and make changes on a campus-by-campus basis considering ongoing uncertainties due to the pandemic. Following the exploration of nine scenarios, University leadership finalized a spring plan grounded in continuing to meet or exceed health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Department of Education, as well as providing flexibility to students to help them meet their academic goals and continue their academic progress. The selected spring semester plan also offers instructors choice in how classes are delivered and maximizes the safe use of facilities to support in-person modes of instruction and to give students access to spaces to connect to remote learning. The University is prepared to be flexible and to make potential changes, if needed, including shifting to a remote learning, based on a variety of health and safety factors and continuous monitoring of the virus.

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To support the health and safety of the University and surrounding communities, spring break will not take place, 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.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, Penn State experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases and public health have continued to track current trends and monitor local, state and national disease data. The University is working closely with officials from the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health, as well as local public and private organizations, to prepare for spring and to carefully monitor the prevalence of coronavirus on our campuses and in our local communities. The University has in place required mask wearing and physical distancing requirements, as well as a random surveillance testing program to detect asymptomatic infected individuals and take proactive steps to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Based on these protocols, the guidance from state and national officials, and in consultation with faculty and other experts the University is prepared to adjust its approach for spring given a multitude of factors, including a severe flu season, and will be ready to make changes and shift to remote learning if necessary.

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There are two general principles to keep in mind. First, while it is always true that the University does not want people who are ill to come to class, it is particularly true in the midst of a pandemic. Second, flexibility is essential given that some students are in isolation and quarantine. Below is a summary of the relevant policies and guidance related to how to manage student absences during COVID.

Instructors are encouraged to handle student absences with flexibility during this pandemic period. Additionally, it is critical to our health and safety efforts that instructors advise students who are feeling ill not to attend class. FAQs on the keepteaching website and the virus info website provide additional information about how instructors might provide make-up work to students who are unable to participate in class for a short period of time or to engage them remotely with collaborative or communication tools if the period of time is extensive.

Penn State guidelines pertaining to class attendance are available from two sources. First, the Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual states that “in the case of illness, students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel.” University Health Services does not provide medical notes to students. Second, the University Faculty Senate’s Policies and Rules for Undergraduate Students states, “Instructors also should provide, within reason, the opportunity to make up work for students who miss classes for other legitimate but unavoidable reasons. Legitimate, unavoidable reasons are those such as illness, injury, military service, family emergency, or religious observance.” In addition, the Faculty Senate’s syllabus guidelines discuss student attendance and explain that syllabi should “emphasize that students should NOT come to class physically when they are feeling ill.”

If a student is taking a CP or CM course and has tested positive for COVID, the instructor will receive an email. Please note that it is possible that a student will notify you of a positive test result before you receive this email. This is explained in depth in an FAQ in the Sept. 4 Faculty Digest. Instructors teaching CR or CW courses will not receive an email if a student in their class tests positive, but should still work with these students to make up any missed work if the student is too ill to attend class remotely.

Students may report to you that they are feeling ill or feel that they may have been exposed. Students who feel ill should be advised to not attend class in person and to get tested through Penn State’s walk-up testing process. Students who feel that they may have been exposed should be advised to complete the Student COVID-19 Self-Referral Form on the COVID-19 support page for students and can also be tested through walk-up testing.

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For fall 2020, faculty have been preparing their courses for many months, around half of all courses are already being delivered remotely, and students, faculty and staff have all been aware of the need to prepare for a potential pivot to more fully remote instruction if required for health and safety considerations. Therefore, it is very unlikely that alternative grading will be implemented under the current circumstances or in the event that we must pivot to greater use of remote instruction prior to the planned Nov. 20 switch.

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The flexible instructional modes developed for the fall 2020 semester, along with limited classroom capacities, will remain in place at all Penn State campuses in spring 2021, provided that the public health landscape allows for some in-person instruction. The University is taking these measures to maintain social distancing protocols and to meet or exceed state and national health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Course delivery options will include the following, with LionPATH codes listed in parentheses:

In-Person Instruction (COVID In-Person) — Students meet in the assigned classroom at the time assigned in the course schedule.

Mixed-Mode Instruction (COVID Mixed Mode) — Instructors deploy a combination of instructional modes to meet social distancing requirements.

Remote Synchronous Instruction (COVID Remote) — Students attend all classes remotely at the scheduled time.

Remote Asynchronous Instruction (COVID Web) — Course material is made available for students to work through on their own schedules.

Students will be able to access the spring 2021 schedule of classes with information about the instructional mode for each course on LionPATH beginning Monday, Sept. 28.

Additional information about the spring 2021 semester is available at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/spring-2021-planning/ and in this Penn State News article.

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To help create a safer learning, living and working environment for all students, faculty and staff, new classroom policies will be in effect this fall across Penn State’s campuses in alignment with public health recommendations and Gov. Tom Wolf’s requirements for higher education institutions. Specific policy guidance has been posted to the Office of Student Conduct website.

To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required for all students and employees in all University buildings, including in classrooms, labs and offices, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible.

While high levels of compliance are expected based on feedback from recent student and employee University surveys, those who put others at risk by not following the University’s requirements will be held accountable in a manner consistent with how other violations of Penn State guidelines and policies are managed.

To learn more, read this Penn State News story.

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The University is working with the Wolf Administration on its Back to State plans and has confirmed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the order limiting indoor gatherings to fewer than 25 people does not apply to classrooms. Other indoor gatherings, however, cannot exceed 25 individuals and must adhere to masking and social distancing requirements. The University will continue to work closely with the Wolf Administration on its return-to-campus plans and is prepared to shift quickly as the pandemic and resulting orders and guidelines evolve, all with a focus on the health and safety of Penn State campuses and surrounding communities

All schools in Pennsylvania, including universities, continue to be subject to guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which are designed to aid in safely resuming in-person instruction. These guidelines allow for larger groups in classrooms as long as face masking and social distancing are in place. The University has committed to meeting and, where possible, exceeding the Wolf Administration’s guidelines.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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Classroom Guidance for Instructors is posted on the website for the Office of Student Conduct. This document describes the steps that faculty can take to provide a positive learning environment and manage COVID-related concerns in the classroom. The guidance includes a sample statement for faculty to include in their course syllabi as well as a series of steps that faculty can take if a student fails to adhere to health and safety requirements. Students who fail to comply with requirements will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and will not be allowed to return until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process. For more information on how to prepare to manage classrooms this fall, watch this video featuring Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

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Faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Additional information is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is prepared to be nimble and responsive based on the latest information, monitoring and evolving virus infection rates. The University will employ strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community, state and national levels to see if a pattern is emerging so leaders can act accordingly.

All classes that are planned to have in-person meetings will have contingency plans for reverting to remote instruction modalities if health circumstances require ending in-person learning earlier than Nov. 20. All future decisions will be based on the best available public-health information, in the interest of the safety and well-being of Penn State students, faculty and staff.

A number of factors may lead to additional distancing measures or adjustments to campus-based residential course delivery. These factors include changes in addition to the virus caseload of a campus or region such as community spread, quarantine and isolation capacity, a county’s status under the governor’s red-yellow-green guidelines, the capacity of the local health care system, community compliance with health and safety protocols, and additional risks such as the onset of an early virulent flu season. Faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health are continuously monitoring county, state and local disease data, which will allow the University to respond to any changes in the pandemic that would require proactive steps to mitigate and manage any potential outbreak. Decisions about potential changes will be made on a campus-by-campus basis, taking into consideration guidance from public health officials.

As Penn State planned for a return to campus and work, University leaders and the University’s 16 coronavirus task groups developed numerous contingency strategies to support health and safety, including a number of “off and on ramp” scenarios that will allow Penn State to quickly respond and continue its teaching and learning mission if changes are needed during the semester.

These scenarios focus on health and safety, flexibility to change course as circumstances require, continuing to provide critical services, and following local and state COVID guidance and requirements. Examples of possible off-ramps include suspending use of specific buildings and spaces, quarantining a program or cohort, suspending or curtailing some in-person programs, quarantining residents of a specific hall, pausing in-person classes for a defined period, pausing programs and reducing operations at a specific campus, and transitioning all programs and classes at a campus to remote delivery. These scenarios include one in which Penn State must send students home from a campus and revert to remote learning. If our public health advisers become concerned that it is no longer safe for students and employees to be on our campuses, we are prepared to quickly take action and change course.

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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 flexible mix of remote, in-person, or a hybrid of both modes, mixing remote and in-person, 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. Following University guidance, campuses and academic units will determine how to deliver smaller classes, which may need to be offered remotely due to health and safety considerations for faculty and students, restrictions that physical distancing places on class size and room availability, and the status of virus spread in local communities.

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.

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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. University Park students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should begin the screening process for coronavirus over the phone by calling the UHS Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463. Students at Commonwealth Campuses should contact their on-campus health services office or a local physician’s office. Penn State urges faculty and staff to contact their health care provider if they have a cough, respiratory symptoms, a fever or have concerns related to COVID-19, and to stay home as well.

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Yes, social distancing will be required for all in-person activities on campus this fall, including in classes and labs, as a means to reduce possible virus transmission and to reduce the potential disruption to students’ learning by needing to quarantine close contacts. When in class, both students and instructors should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arm lengths) between one another. The task groups continue to review all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Changes will be communicated for those that have already registered, and opportunities to work with advisers will be made available. Some non-classroom spaces will be repurposed for instruction and every class that meets in person will allow for appropriate social distancing. Additional measures — for example, assigned seating and monitoring of attendance to help facilitate contact tracing will be deployed as considered necessary. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, and classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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Leading up to the fall semester, the University conducted a review of all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Based on a variety of factors, for example the needs and size of a class, in-person classes were reassigned to larger rooms to accommodate social distancing requirements.

Other changes to classrooms included revising room layouts; establishing a distanced space for instructors; and identifying room capacities and potential alternative spaces for classes to take place. These efforts, along with the fall’s flexible educational model with some classes delivered remotely, will lower classroom population density, allow for social distancing and meet both educational and safety goals.

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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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No. The university has a camera-optional practice for teaching through Zoom. Faculty are aware that some students may have special circumstances that preclude the use of a webcam. Whenever possible, students should use their webcam during the classes conducted via Zoom, and they should use the other features such as chat and raise hand to participate and engage in the class.

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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 keepteaching.psu.edu/training. 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.

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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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What is the status of faculty and staff domestic travel?

Beginning July 1, 2020, employees must seek permission for University-affiliated domestic travel, including air travel, from their unit executive (e.g., dean, chancellor). Employees are asked to limit travel where possible and consider virtual options that might replace or reduce the need to travel. College of Medicine faculty at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, both clinical and basic science, are expected to follow the shared guidelines issued together by Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Penn State Health.

Employees wishing to travel should:

• Carefully review the Pennsylvania Department of Health guidance.

• Research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which they are traveling and ensure that they can comply with the restrictions.

• Obtain permission to travel from their unit executive.

• Arrange any necessary air travel through Anthony Travel, Penn State’s preferred travel agency, when possible.

Once approved for travel, employees must comply with the following:

• Practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.

• Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of their work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others and as advised by the area(s) to which they are traveling.

• Travel one person per vehicle unless an exceptional circumstance dictates otherwise.

• Observe the following guidelines when returning home:

Domestic travel to/from other states, or to/from a yellow/red county:

Asymptomatic individuals who have been given permission for on-site work can continue to work following the “Health Monitoring and Temperature Screening” process in the COVID-19 Supervisors Instructions.
—For 14 days after returning home, employees must take their temperature at home within one hour before reporting to work and report “ok” status to supervisor or designee before arriving to work.
—Individuals who become ill/symptomatic must stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Domestic travel between green counties within PA:
—No restrictions for asymptomatic individuals. Employees who become ill should stay home and follow COVID-19 reporting protocols.

Employees commuting to the workplace between counties within Pennsylvania or other states:

• Employees returning to the workplace at this time must have prior approval.

• Individuals should monitor their health; if they become ill/symptomatic, stay home and follow the COVID-19 reporting protocols.

• Individuals do not need to report health condition unless they become ill/symptomatic.

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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. 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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All University-sponsored international travel involving students, faculty and staff is suspended until further notice. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

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. After this review, all travel requests will be sent to the Global Safety Office for review by the International Restricted Travel Committee prior to final approval.

Employees wishing to travel internationally must request approval at least one month prior to the expected date of departure. Requestors must must receive approval prior to purchasing airline tickets, hotel accommodations, etc. Once approved, all international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel. The Global Safety Office (TSN@psu.edu) will continue to assist approved international travelers and be a resource for any questions about health and safety at your destination(s).

Requests must contain the following elements:

1. Identify why the travel is critical.
2. Provide a proposed travel itinerary with the expected dates of travel and country or countries to be visited.
3. Review health and safety information for the country or countries you plan to visit, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic:

—Please describe the prevalent risks currently present in the country or countries where you are proposing to travel. Please refer to the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory for the country you are traveling to as well as United Healthcare Global WorldWatch report to research current risks associated with your travel.
—For the risks you have identified, please explain how you would prepare for and mitigate those risks and respond to possible emergencies.
—Please indicate any previous travel experience and/or language skills that may be relevant to the country in which you plan to travel.

4. Carefully review the PA Dept of Health Travel guidance.
5. Review the Penn State COVID-19 site.
6. Please research the restrictions imposed in the area(s) to which you are traveling and ensure that you can comply with the restrictions.
7. Provide documentation that the institution/organization you will be visiting has provided you with permission, if applicable.
8. Your unit executive should submit this request on your behalf and indicate their approval and indicate their approval and affirmation that the research being conducted is essential.

Please note the following:

1. All requests to travel must be submitted at least one month prior to the date of departure.
2. All international travel must be registered with the Travel Safety Network at least three business days prior to departure. All travel arrangements MUST be made through Penn State’s travel provider, Anthony Travel.
3. Practice social distancing and hygiene recommendations before and during travel.
4. Obtain masks, hand sanitizer, and any PPE that might be necessary in the course of your work while traveling. Masks should be worn at all times when interacting with others and as advised by the area(s) to which you are traveling.
5. A quarantine of 14 days should still be required upon arrival at their destination and a similar instruction to remain at home and monitor health for 14 days will apply should they return to the United States under current guidelines.
6. Policy TR01, International Travel Requirements, applies to all international travel.

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Who is able to be tested via Penn State’s on-demand testing and random screening programs?

At University Park, University Health Services provides appointment-based, “on-demand” testing for students who have COVID-19-related symptoms. If a student is symptomatic, they should seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

For University Park students who are asymptomatic but self-identify as having COVID-19 exposure or want to be tested for other reasons, a voluntary walk-up testing site is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena. By allowing students to be tested who feel that they may have been exposed rather than solely those who have been identified by the contact tracing process, these expanded testing efforts will supplement and hasten the University’s existing contact tracing efforts and the deployment of quarantine and isolation.

Both students and employees may be selected by the University for random screening as part of the University’s ongoing surveillance testing program. Students and employees will be provided with instructions via email about where to go for this testing when they are selected.

More information on COVID-19 testing options at University Park is available from Penn State Student Affairs.

For Commonwealth Campus students and employees, random screening is being conducted by Vault Health. Individuals selected for random screening will receive an email that includes specific directions on next steps. It is important that selected individuals register for their test within 48 hours of receiving the email and then complete their test within 48 hours of having the test kit in hand. On-demand testing for Commonwealth Campus students is being conducted by Quest. Symptomatic students should contact their campus health center or testing contact for directions on how to obtain a test kit.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is offering on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff who are working on campus at University Park and wish to be tested.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing for employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database is available on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena starting Oct. 9. The testing center is open for employees only from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, or employees may walk up at any time during the center’s normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Individuals who visit Pegula Ice Arena for walk-up testing must enter through Gate A – the main entry at the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive.

This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. Employees should work with their supervisor to request time to obtain COVID-19 testing. Registration is not required. Employees who wish to be tested must bring identification and a smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free for employees.

Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be tested at the walk-up testing site. Any employee who feels sick with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is conducting a randomized COVID-19 surveillance testing program to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 across all campuses. The University will perform daily testing of at least 1% of the student, faculty and staff population across Penn State’s campuses. 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 surveillance 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.

For additional information about surveillance testing, read this story in Penn State News. Three new COVID-19 surveillance testing sites will be open for Penn State employees and students on the University Park campus starting Oct. 7. These indoor locations replace previous University Park campus testing locations and expand services to include employee-only hours.

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The University’s top priority for spring planning, as it was for fall, is the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and local community members. A working group with more than 20 members from across the University considered a variety of options for spring to build on strategies from the fall, while considering the need to adapt quickly and make changes on a campus-by-campus basis considering ongoing uncertainties due to the pandemic. Following the exploration of nine scenarios, University leadership finalized a spring plan grounded in continuing to meet or exceed health and safety guidelines as outlined by the Department of Education, as well as providing flexibility to students to help them meet their academic goals and continue their academic progress. The selected spring semester plan also offers instructors choice in how classes are delivered and maximizes the safe use of facilities to support in-person modes of instruction and to give students access to spaces to connect to remote learning. The University is prepared to be flexible and to make potential changes, if needed, including shifting to a remote learning, based on a variety of health and safety factors and continuous monitoring of the virus.

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To support the health and safety of the University and surrounding communities, spring break will not take place, 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.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, Penn State experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases and public health have continued to track current trends and monitor local, state and national disease data. The University is working closely with officials from the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Health, as well as local public and private organizations, to prepare for spring and to carefully monitor the prevalence of coronavirus on our campuses and in our local communities. The University has in place required mask wearing and physical distancing requirements, as well as a random surveillance testing program to detect asymptomatic infected individuals and take proactive steps to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus. Based on these protocols, the guidance from state and national officials, and in consultation with faculty and other experts the University is prepared to adjust its approach for spring given a multitude of factors, including a severe flu season, and will be ready to make changes and shift to remote learning if necessary.

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To continue on-campus learning, work and other activities in the spring, it’s vital that students, faculty and staff at all campuses and in adjacent communities do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear face masks, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings in line with public health guidelines. This spring, students, employees and visitors will be required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks at all times in campus buildings; outdoors when they cannot be physically distant from others; and whenever state or local laws require. The University also requires students and most employees to participate in random surveillance testing of around 1% of a campus population daily in order to detect, track, mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.

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Faculty and staff have the same rights to privacy of their health information as everyone else (see AD22 and AD53). Employees, including faculty, do not have an obligation to share their protected health information or testing status with students.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive or have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, you should leave work if you are at work, notify your academic administrator (department head/school director/CAO/DAA), contact Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492, and contact your personal healthcare provider. Do not hold classes or meet with students in-person if you have symptoms or have been told to quarantine or isolate. You may hold your class remotely as you are able. If you are ill and not able to have class, work with your academic administrator to plan an alternative. You do not need to share the reason why you are ill with your academic administrator. Some colleges/campuses have class cancellation policies that will need to be followed.

You do not need to share with your class that you are absent due to a COVID diagnosis or symptoms or that you are in quarantine or isolation. As explained in an FAQ in this Digest on Friday, Sept. 11, if you test positive for COVID-19, then contact tracers will work with you to identify your close contacts. Generally speaking, in traditional classroom settings with proper masking and physical distancing, instructors and students will not be considered close contacts of each other.

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Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, as well as faculty and staff, to get a flu vaccine before the onset of flu season, or certainly before the start of the spring semester, to help alleviate the complicated season that is likely to include flu along with COVID-19. According to the CDC, September and October are good times to get vaccinated, but as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue into January or later. Penn State is encouraging flu vaccination in order to both protect the health of the University community and reduce demand on health care resources in and around Penn State campus communities to maintain capacity for the severely ill.

Student flu vaccine clinics will begin on Sept. 21 and run through Nov. 10 at the University Park campus.

Flu vaccines are free for all Penn State employees, regardless of participation in a University-sponsored health care plan. Employees can choose one of the three options for receiving the flu vaccine in late September through late October, and will receive more information via their Penn State email address.

For additional information about the flu vaccine, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/flushot.htm.

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If you are having COVID-19 symptoms, you should 1) leave work immediately if you are at work and self-isolate, 2) notify your supervisor, and 3) contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 or psuoccmed@psu.edu. Occupational Medicine will determine whether you need to be tested and whether the test should be ordered through your family physician or through Occupational Medicine. It is important to contact Occupational Medicine, because its staff will contact your supervisor and the University’s Absence Management on your behalf to inform them about when you will be out of the office and when you may be able to return. If you are working remotely, Occupational Medicine will still be able to advise you about testing. You may also wish to consult this chart if you have questions about how to proceed if you feel ill or feel that you may have been exposed.

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On June 2, the University charged a Health Resources Task Group to develop options and recommendations for testing and contact tracing that could minimize the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission and enable a return to working and learning on campuses. A seven-person steering committee, with support from 30 individuals from University Park, the College of Medicine, and the Commonwealth campuses, submitted a report on July 2, which informed the sample testing and contact tracing strategy adopted by the University. The report is accessible via this link.

There has been interest in the University’s simulation modeling that informed its pre-arrival testing strategy. The University based its approach on modeling that showed that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood of avoiding an outbreak that would exceed local hospital capacity. The report provides greater detail. The pre-arrival process is complete. The following analysis suggests the number of potentially infectious students returning to University Park to start the semester would have been less than or equal to 38.

Pre-arrival testing estimation:

Following initial risk modeling we determined the likelihood of an outbreak in the community surrounding the University Park campus that would exceed the inpatient capacity at Mount Nittany Medical Center prior to the semester break in November was highly sensitive to the initial number of infectious students returning to campus as the start of the semester. Specifically, stochastic model situations suggested that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood that such an outbreak could be avoided through a combination of preventive actions (masking and distancing), routine asymptomatic screening of 1% of the campus population each day, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

A review by our testing task force established that the time required to conduct pre-arrival testing for all Penn State students would render the strategy inviable. In order to complete testing within a short time window, as close to student return as possible, we established a plan to test a subset of returning students. To maximize the impact per test conducted, we modeled the expected prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at the county level across the U.S. To estimate the total prevalence in each U.S. county we counted all reported COVID cases assuming that 1 in 10 infections are detected and reported. We assumed that the probability that a student returning to campus from any U.S. county was infectious was equal to the estimated prevalence in their home county (e.g. a student is a randomly chosen individual from the county) [NOTE: the methods we used are analogous to those here https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu, which have been widely used elsewhere and covered in the media]. Thus, tests allocated to counties with the highest estimated prevalence would have the highest probability of preventing an infectious student returning to campus. Each test allocated reduced the expected number of returning infectious students by a value equal to the county prevalence (which itself was considerably less than 1). Thus, we prioritized the allocation of tests to those U.S. counties with the highest estimated prevalence to maximize the reduction in infectious students returning to campuses.

If no pre-arrival testing were done, we estimated that the number of students returning infectious to the University Park campus would be approximately 300. Thus, for University Park, we allocated pre-arrival tests such that the expected number of infectious students returning to campus was less than 50. After targeted allocation of tests to students that were serving as RAs or in other high contact roles during move-in and orientation, we expected that number of potentially infectious students returning to the University Park campus would be less than or equal to 38; thus, reducing the expected number of infectious students returning by 87%.

For the smaller Commonwealth Campuses, we set a lower target threshold of 10 infectious students returning. Many of the smaller Commonwealth Campuses had a total expected number of infectious returning students less than 10 in the absence of any pre-arrival testing. In this case we allocated pre-arrival testing proportional to campus size to guarantee pre-arrival testing at all campuses.

As test results were returned, we were able to evaluate whether or not our predicted county-level prevalence was consistent with the observed prevalence among our tested students. This analysis revealed that students residing in high prevalence counties outside of Pennsylvania were positive at rates lower than we predicted. The rate of positive students residing in high prevalence counties within Pennsylvania was strongly correlated with our estimates — counties that we prioritized as high-risk had higher proportions of infected students. However, we found that our estimates had under-estimated the expected number of infected students in these counties. Because we invited all students in the high prevalence counties to be tested, our strategy was robust to this underestimation; that is, by testing 100% of students in a county we expected to catch all infected students whether the number was 10 or 15.

Operational delays in test results (some due to unforeseen events, such as a tropical storm causing transport delays) meant that less than 100% of invited students were tested prior to campus return. Using our analysis of observed COVID prevalence among the tests that had been returned, we were able to prioritize subsequent testing of returning students through additional efforts, including on-campus testing some students at the time of arrival. The very large number of tests done at the University Park campus also allowed us to identify high-risk Pennsylvania counties based on our testing results, rather than our a priori model, and allocate additional pre-arrival tests to students returning to Commonwealth Campuses from these counties.

Health Resources Task Group Membership:

Kevin Black, MD (Co-Lead)
Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Steve Tracey (Co-Lead)
Smeal College of Business
Professor of Practice, Supply-Chain and Information Systems (SC&IS)
Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Research
Executive Director, Penn State Executive Programs

Mark A. Bates
Medical Director for Penn State’s Occupational Medicine Program
Division of the Office of Human Resources

Lauren Bechtel (admin. support)
Program Director, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Michael Brignati
Associate General Counsel
Office of the President

David M. Callejo Pérez
Associate Vice President and Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Programs

James Crandall
Director of Environmental Health and Safety

Duane Elmore
Director Procurement Services

Cara Exten, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Matthew Ferrari
Associate Professor of Biology

Patty Franklin
Associate Vice President for HR Operations

Melissa George, MD
Interim Chair Department of Pathology, College of Medicine

Frank Guadagnino
Vice President for Administration
Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Kevin Harter
Associate Dean for Medical Innovation Professor of Practice, Entrepreneurship
Penn State College of Medicine

Nirmal Joshi, MD
System Chief Medical Officer
Mount Nittany Health

Dovizia Long
Labor Relations Strategist

Cindy Lynch (admin. support)
Chief of Staff for Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Stanley Martin, MD
Infectious Diseases, Geisinger

John Mason
Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg

Robin Ella Oliver-Veronesi, MD, CPE
Senior Director of University Health Services

Catharine Paules, MD
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases
Penn State College of Medicine
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Nick (Vittal) Prabhu
Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair Service Enterprise Engineering

Andrew Read
Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology; Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

Kusumal Ruamsook
Research Associate and Teaching Professor, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Jennifer Santiago
Assistant Vice President of Risk Management and University Risk Officer

Wayne Sebastianelli, MD
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Penn State College of Medicine
State College Regional Medical Campus

Dennis Scanlon
Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration

Jen Stedelin
Associate Vice President, Enterprise Applications Penn State Information Technology

Michael Stefan
Director of State Relations
Office of Government and Community Relations

Richard Sparrow
Acting Chief Information Security Officer Office of Information Security

Lisa Vavala
Director of Nursing, Assistant Clinical Director of University Health Services

Kelly A. Wolgast
DNP, RN, FACHE, FAAN COL (R), US Army
Director of COVID-19 Operations Control Center
Associate Teaching Professor, College of Nursing
Assistant Dean for Outreach and Professional Development, College of Nursing

Hui Yang
Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering PI & Site Director: NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT)
Affiliate Faculty: Bioengineering, Institute of Cyberscience, CIMP-3D

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To support the health and well-being of the University community this fall, Penn State has implemented a contact tracing process in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as part of a layered tracing and testing approach for students and employees across all campuses. To limit community spread and transmission, the University’s contact tracing process focuses on identifying, notifying and monitoring students and employees who came in close contact with a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is presumed positive, while they were infectious.

The Penn State contact tracing program scales up existing contact tracing protocols and support services in place at the University. Tracing is directed by the COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC) and operated centrally by the Office of Student Affairs, with support and representation from the Commonwealth Campuses. The University and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are working in tandem to support state requirements for case investigation, which is the process of contacting those who test positive for COVID-19, or are presumed positive, and then reaching out to their close contacts.

The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students and employees can expect:

— Step 1: Penn State will identify individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or presumed positive.

— Step 2: Nursing staff will initiate contact with positive or presumed positive students and employees.

— Step 3: Contact tracers will communicate with employees and students identified as close contacts about health quarantine expectations and offer support.

— Step 4: Case managers will reach out daily, or on an as-needed basis, to students in isolation and/or quarantine to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not permitted to attend class.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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Penn State’s contact tracing process consists of multiple layers of outreach. This process prioritizes getting the COVID-positive individual into isolation. The first layer involves reaching out to the individual who has tested positive for COVID. Next, contact tracers contact those who have been identified by the COVID-positive individual as close contacts. Finally, contact tracers will notify others who might need to know, such as faculty members and instructors via an email from a “Student Support Services” address via our Maxient system. An example of the notification letter is provided here. We will continue to refine and improve this process as we learn more this semester.

The contact tracing process begins within 24 hours of the University learning of a positive case. Instructors and faculty will be notified that a student in their class has a health-related issue that necessitates their absence from class, unless that students has signed a release allowing for more information to be shared. It is possible, even likely, that a student who has tested positive will notify their professors before the University is able to do so. If a faculty member receives notification from the student prior to receiving formal notification from Penn State, they do not need to contact UHS. The good news is that if a student advises their faculty member directly, then the faculty member will have additional time to work with that student on any adaptions needed to help the student be successful in learning while in isolation or quarantine.

Recently, the University introduced electronic processes that enable someone to self-identify that they have tested positive for COVID or that they may be a close contact of a COVID-positive individual. This may shorten the amount of time that passes before a faculty member is notified of a positive case in their class.

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Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has been gearing up for months for the return to campus by carefully evaluating 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 (CDC) and undertaking intensive corrective and preventive maintenance for every building at every campus. Learn more about OPPs procedures and plans here.

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Penn State has launched an integrated effort to remind faculty, staff and students at all campuses and in adjacent communities of the importance of doing their part to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Mask Up or Pack Up” is a research-based campaign that is also launched in State College to create a seamless message for students and other members of the community. The creative execution, “Mask Up or Pack Up,” is grounded in insights from surveys and focus groups comprised of students, faculty, staff and the community, and is a direct expectation for everyone to take personal actions to help create a safer environment as students return to campuses across the commonwealth. Research revealed that the top two concerns from key stakeholders include being forced to return to a fully remote environment, as well as the critical need to protect those who are the most vulnerable in our community. The intent is to reinforce the Wolf Administration and University safety guidelines, shift attitudes and behaviors of the hard-to-persuade, and make essential preventative behaviors widely practiced.

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Students and employees should become familiar with guidelines and expectations for quarantine and isolation for this semester, as part of the University’s comprehensive multi-layered approach to testing, contact tracing and monitoring in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While isolation and quarantine are both intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.

The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.

Quarantine:

— Since symptoms typically develop between two to 14 days after exposure, students and employees who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and/or been identified during the University’s contact tracing process must quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the individual, in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.

— Faculty and staff should quarantine at home, students living on campus will quarantine in space identified on their campus, and case managers will evaluate quarantine needs for students living off campus as part of the contact tracing process. During quarantine, you may or may not develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you do experience symptoms, please contact your health care provider; students can contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or their primary care provider.

Isolation:

— Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate. Faculty and staff should isolate at home, students living on campus will stay in isolation space on campus, and students living off campus will be accommodated with on-campus isolation space to the extent that the University is able. Individuals should not return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.

— According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be with others after at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared, after at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and after symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, your health care provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).

During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or primary care provider. Faculty and staff who test positive will need to report their positive status to their supervisor, so their unit can begin the contact tracing process, and self-isolate off campus. For more information about the University’s testing and contact tracing plan, read this story in Penn State News.

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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.

Multi-layer cloth masks or procedure masks are the preferred type of face covering. There 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. At this time, it is recommended that all faculty, staff and students wear a multi-layer mask or procedure mask. All face coverings must cover the nose and chin.

Guidelines surrounding the use of cloth masks are available on the EHS website and also on the University’s virus information website. If you encounter someone wearing a mask with an exhaust valve in the instructional or work setting, respond to the person as though they forgot to wear a mask. Offer them an extra mask and remind the individual to not wear a mask with a valve in the future.

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In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidelines, wearing face masks and adhering to social 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.

To aid in this effort, the University purchased 500,000 masks to be distributed across all campuses for people who need them. In addition, distance markers, directional arrows, signs and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations, which also will be reconfigured with social-distancing principles in mind. Tables, chairs and lounge furniture will be rearranged and/or blocked for use in some locations, and posting of maximum occupancy and do-not-congregate signs for most areas will become the norm, in accordance with the governor’s higher education guidance.

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Above all, the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff is the University’s top priority. Individuals who are sick, think they have been exposed to coronavirus, exhibit symptoms, and/or test positive for COVID-19 are expected to stay home and/or leave work right away. Employees should isolate, monitor their symptoms and seek medical care as needed. The University has developed isolation guidance for employees. Employees should notify their supervisors, so their unit can begin a process to conduct contact tracing, notify individuals in the unit to monitor for symptoms, and begin temperature checks and health screenings for those who have been in contact with the sick individual. Policies and programs will be in place to support employees who are recovering from and/or caring for partners and family members with COVID-19. Most individuals who need to miss work due to COVID-19 to care for themselves or another individual are eligible to receive pay (up to certain maximums) for up to the first 80 hours, depending on full-time or part-time status, regardless of available sick time. Additional time off will be paid through accrued sick leave or short-term disability, if elected.

Penn State Absence Management will answer questions and assist employees with additional needs.

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When a student or employee is identified as being positive for COVID-19, Penn State nursing staff will reach out to them to provide support and isolation guidance and to collect information about that person’s close contacts. A Penn State contact tracer will then reach out to students and employees identified as close contacts to gain additional information and provide directions and health precautions. As part the University’s partnership with the Pennsylvanyia Department of Health, a contact tracer from the state also will reach out to Penn State students and employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify close contacts who are not affiliated with the University; the state will follow up with those close contacts.

In accordance with state guidance, close contacts are defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick (or when they test positive, if asymptomatic) until the time the patient was isolated.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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The University is employing strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community and national levels.

Penn State has put in place a robust COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program consisting of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

The University will conduct surveillance testing of faculty, staff and students on its campuses throughout the semester, testing about 1% of our campus populations (about 700 people) per day. The plan includes random and risk-stratified surveillance testing as well as asymptomatic testing for individuals who are identified in the contact-tracing process.

Additionally, the University has set up on-campus testing capabilities using existing resources in a new Testing and Surveillance Center, which will be used for surveillance testing at University Park.

Penn State will hire additional staff to serve as contact tracers as needed to support all campuses and plans to enhance access to early health-care consultation and treatment. Contact-tracing supports virus case detection and is designed to help prevent future outbreaks. The University also is building capacity to isolate and quarantine individuals who test positive, including support for isolated persons, to facilitate proper medical care.

More detailed information about symptomatic and asymptomatic testing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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Maintaining the health and safety of the campus and local communities is the top priority driving Penn State’s decision-making and policy changes as it relates to the pandemic.

As part of a layered approach, Penn State has implemented a COVID-19 testing program that consists of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

In addition, the University has developed requirements for students to meet prior to returning to campus and local communities this semester. For example, all students must self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus. Those who are sick, think you have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing symptoms, should continue to isolate and not return to campus until cleared by a medical professional.

Penn State also will encourage flu shots for all students before the onset of flu season, or certainly before the start of the spring semester, with an eye toward addressing the complicated season that is likely to include flu along with COVID-19, and to reducing as much as possible, a demand for health facilities in order to maintain capacity for the severely ill. At University Park, Penn State’s largest campus, officials are working closely with Mount Nittany Medical Center as part of collaboration with local public health entities, in accordance with state guidance. In addition, partnerships in the communities in which Commonwealth Campuses are situated also are taking place.

All actions being implemented are based on guidance from Penn State health experts and scientists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, among others. The University will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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As part of a layered approach to mitigating the spread of coronavirus, Penn State committed to conducting surveillance testing on all of its campuses. The University plans to test at least 1% of its population of students, faculty, and staff who are on campuses this fall. Surveillance will be adapted based on lessons learned and testing resources will pivot as needed based on surveillance data outcomes. The results of that testing will be reported on the COVID-19 dashboard and will be updated every Monday. The dashboard also incorporates data from symptomatic testing on campus, results of student-athletes tested through Intercollegiate Athletics and test results from private health care providers that are reported to University Health Services (UHS) or Occupational Medicine.

Please note that the surveillance testing protocol begins on Aug. 24, the first day of classes, so data on the dashboard will be limited for the first week until test results are returned. Additionally, the dashboard does not include pre-arrival testing results, as those tests were not conducted on campus and individuals who tested positive were notified to stay at home to isolate for 10 days and until all symptoms resolve and be cleared by a health professional before returning to a campus location.

Visit this link to review Penn State’s COVID-19 dashboard.

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​The Internal Revenue Service recently allowed employers to offer workers flexibility with their health care plans and Flexible Spending Accounts, including health care and dependent care. Penn State is allowing employees to make some adjustments to their health care plans. More details can be found at https://news.psu.edu/story/626070/2020/07/22/administration/irs-allows-benefits-changes-response-covid-19.

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Governor’s Guidance

An order issued by Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine on July 15 prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 25 and outdoor gatherings of more than 250. (Note: The order prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 25 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.

Indoor meetings and events
Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required. All participants must wear masks and meeting/event organizers must take into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests to hold indoor meetings and events of between 11 and 25 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below). No indoor meetings or events of more than 25 participants are permitted.

Outdoor meetings and events
Outdoor meetings of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Masks are required when six feet of distance between participants cannot be maintained. Requests for outdoor meetings of between 11 and 250 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below. No outdoor meetings or events of more than 250 participants are permitted.

Approval Process
Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor meeting of between 11 and 25 participants, or an outdoor meeting or event of between 11 and 250 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 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn if the event is indoors and plans for abiding by social distancing guidelines must be included;
—Provide evidence that employees requesting to attend the meeting or event have been approved via the Return to Work process. A request must be made to return employees to the workplace at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/;
—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 ‘return to work’ approval status of employees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

Events should be scheduled with the full understanding that if the county in which the campus is located moves to the Yellow or Red phase or if state guidance otherwise changes, the guidelines for the county must be followed and the event may need to be cancelled.

Campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red Phase
At campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, no meetings or events of any kind with more than 10 attendees may be scheduled. For essential indoor events of between 11 and 25, or outdoor events of between 11 and 250, at campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, approval to hold the event must be sought from Executive Vice President and Provost, Nicholas P. Jones, at provost@psu.edu. All requests must include a description of how social distancing will be maintained at the event.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas
Meetings that require travel between campuses that are in the Yellow or Red phase, or where participants are from states where cases of COVID-19 are rising, should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel 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.

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The University is working with the Wolf Administration on its Back to State plans and has confirmed with the Pennsylvania Department of Education that the order limiting indoor gatherings to fewer than 25 people does not apply to classrooms. Other indoor gatherings, however, cannot exceed 25 individuals and must adhere to masking and social distancing requirements. The University will continue to work closely with the Wolf Administration on its return-to-campus plans and is prepared to shift quickly as the pandemic and resulting orders and guidelines evolve, all with a focus on the health and safety of Penn State campuses and surrounding communities

All schools in Pennsylvania, including universities, continue to be subject to guidance from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which are designed to aid in safely resuming in-person instruction. These guidelines allow for larger groups in classrooms as long as face masking and social distancing are in place. The University has committed to meeting and, where possible, exceeding the Wolf Administration’s guidelines.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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The University is concerned by the current trends and continuously monitoring state and national disease data and following guidance from state and local health officials. Based on that guidance, and in consultation with faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health, the University is prepared to adjust its approach as necessary, including the possibility that Penn State would need to shift the semester to a fully remote learning environment once again. The University and Governor Wolf have previously stressed the importance of following guidelines to protect community health and minimize the spread of the virus, and cautioned that lax behaviors could undo progress toward reopening campuses.

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Classroom Guidance for Instructors is posted on the website for the Office of Student Conduct. This document describes the steps that faculty can take to provide a positive learning environment and manage COVID-related concerns in the classroom. The guidance includes a sample statement for faculty to include in their course syllabi as well as a series of steps that faculty can take if a student fails to adhere to health and safety requirements. Students who fail to comply with requirements will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and will not be allowed to return until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process. For more information on how to prepare to manage classrooms this fall, watch this video featuring Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

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The University developed plans to support the health and safety of all employees during the transition back to in-person work functions. These plans include enhanced disinfecting protocols, required mask-wearing, and alterations to classroom and office environments to allow for proper social distancing. Even with these measures, Penn State recognizes that employees who are part of a vulnerable population, such as those who are immunocompromised, or those who live with individuals who are part of a vulnerable group, may have concerns about returning to the workplace.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who are in this situation and have concerns about returning to on-site work should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

Employees who believe that they have a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation or leave should contact the Affirmative Action Office or Absence Management, as appropriate.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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Faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Additional information is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is prepared to be nimble and responsive based on the latest information, monitoring and evolving virus infection rates. The University will employ strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community, state and national levels to see if a pattern is emerging so leaders can act accordingly.

All classes that are planned to have in-person meetings will have contingency plans for reverting to remote instruction modalities if health circumstances require ending in-person learning earlier than Nov. 20. All future decisions will be based on the best available public-health information, in the interest of the safety and well-being of Penn State students, faculty and staff.

A number of factors may lead to additional distancing measures or adjustments to campus-based residential course delivery. These factors include changes in addition to the virus caseload of a campus or region such as community spread, quarantine and isolation capacity, a county’s status under the governor’s red-yellow-green guidelines, the capacity of the local health care system, community compliance with health and safety protocols, and additional risks such as the onset of an early virulent flu season. Faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine and public health are continuously monitoring county, state and local disease data, which will allow the University to respond to any changes in the pandemic that would require proactive steps to mitigate and manage any potential outbreak. Decisions about potential changes will be made on a campus-by-campus basis, taking into consideration guidance from public health officials.

As Penn State planned for a return to campus and work, University leaders and the University’s 16 coronavirus task groups developed numerous contingency strategies to support health and safety, including a number of “off and on ramp” scenarios that will allow Penn State to quickly respond and continue its teaching and learning mission if changes are needed during the semester.

These scenarios focus on health and safety, flexibility to change course as circumstances require, continuing to provide critical services, and following local and state COVID guidance and requirements. Examples of possible off-ramps include suspending use of specific buildings and spaces, quarantining a program or cohort, suspending or curtailing some in-person programs, quarantining residents of a specific hall, pausing in-person classes for a defined period, pausing programs and reducing operations at a specific campus, and transitioning all programs and classes at a campus to remote delivery. These scenarios include one in which Penn State must send students home from a campus and revert to remote learning. If our public health advisers become concerned that it is no longer safe for students and employees to be on our campuses, we are prepared to quickly take action and change course.

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The health and well-being of the Penn State community is the University’s first priority as we welcome the community back to our campuses. Significant prevention and public health procedures have been implemented to help maintain the health and safety of our students, employees and local communities. Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Specific to public health, as part of a “new normal” for returning to campus, all students, faculty and staff members will be expected to take personal actions to help protect themselves and others on campus — the success of the University’s plans will be largely dependent on everyone doing their part. While on campus, students, employees and visitors are required to wear face masks or coverings, practice social distancing, practice hand hygiene by frequently washing and sanitizing, follow protocols for covering coughs and sneezes, stay home if sick, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. The University will employ enhanced cleaning and sanitation, hygiene stations, plexiglass, signage and various other measures to provide for physical distancing and other health and safety needs.

Additional guidance for members of the University will continue to be provided at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/, which will be updated regularly with the latest information and guidance as we all work together toward a safe return.

Since March, more than 250 individuals serving on 16 task groups and subcommittees have prepared for a coordinated return to on-campus working, learning and living for students and employees across each of the University’s campuses. Penn State has taken a robust public health and science-based approach to inform how it is managing social distancing, limiting the size of events, and providing learning environments that are as safe as reasonably possible. Penn State will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities that have been outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

University leadership and the task groups have worked with governance and advisory bodies, including the University Faculty Senate and the University Staff Advisory Council, to work through the details of course delivery, classroom and workplace safety, and other aspects of the return to campus.

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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. University Park students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should begin the screening process for coronavirus over the phone by calling the UHS Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463. Students at Commonwealth Campuses should contact their on-campus health services office or a local physician’s office. Penn State urges faculty and staff to contact their health care provider if they have a cough, respiratory symptoms, a fever or have concerns related to COVID-19, and to stay home as well.

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Penn State has significant prevention and public health procedures and strategies in place to support the health and safety of students, employees and local communities – the top priority in resuming on-campus activities. Given Pennsylvania’s county-by-county phased pandemic management plan, the status of each Penn State campus may vary, particularly for those that may be located in an area of the commonwealth where various restrictions are in place due to the number of COVID-19 cases in that region.

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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.

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The Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA) announced operational plans for the fall 2020 semester on July 24 that will impact both campus and community transit service beginning Saturday, Aug. 22.

Service changes that will be in effect throughout the fall semester include:

—No Blue Loop or White Loop campus transit service.

—No Sunday transit services.

—All CATA services will begin at 6 a.m. and end no later than 12:30 a.m. each day, with reduced service between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

While Blue Loop and White Loop campus service will not be available, CATA will continue to operate the Red Link and Green Link campus routes, with additional service to be added to the Green Link. Penn State Transportation Services will also continue to operate its two Campus Shuttle routes, though with reduced capacity.

In the interest of health and safety, Penn State and CATA made a joint decision not to run the Blue and White Loops this fall. The Blue Loop and White Loop are University-contracted services, and Penn State instead made those buses and drivers available to CATA for other service routes in the community that transport students, faculty and staff to and from campus. By redirecting these resources to peak demand periods for these routes, CATA expects to reduce the average number of riders per vehicle to help mitigate COVID-19 risk associated with longer wait periods in densely populated areas and confined spaces.

CATA’s passenger protocols

CATA, however, will not be specifically restricting the number of riders on each vehicle but will require all passengers to wear a face covering while waiting for or riding on CATA services, and to practice social distancing when and where possible, as part of its fall 2020 passenger protocols. CATA has also implemented a daily schedule of disinfecting all vehicles through rigorous industrial electrostatic cleaning and sanitation. Individuals will need to determine if use of CATA services during the COVID-19 pandemic is right for them, but it is strongly encouraged that use be limited to essential trips. Students, faculty and staff living closer to campus are encouraged to walk or bike where possible.

To provide the best opportunity for a more socially distanced riding experience, riders are encouraged to plan trips in advance and to ride during off-peak times. Real-time bus locations and arrival predictions are available through the MyStop, TransLoc or Penn State Go mobile apps.

Full details on CATA’s fall 2020 operational plans and passenger protocols can be found at the CATA website. For questions related to CATA service, call 814-238-2282 or email cata@catabus.com. CATA is a joint municipal authority that serves the six Centre Region municipalities, as well as Bellefonte Borough and Spring and Benner townships.

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This is understandable and there are resources available for both students and employees who are struggling and who need support with the transition back to campus. Students can contact their academic advisers for guidance. The Red Folder initiative is a guide to help faculty, staff and others who interact with students to recognize, respond effectively to, and refer distressed students at Penn State. Students at University Park can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 814-863-0395 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students at Commonwealth Campuses can contact the CAPS office at their campus location. When CAPS is closed, both the Penn State Crisis Line (877-229-6400) and the Crisis Text Line (text “LIONS” to 741741) are still available 24/7 for students at all campuses who are in crisis or need support. Faculty and staff who are in distress are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program, a free, confidential resource to be used as a first line of defense for personal or work-related concerns for yourself or your family.

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Yes, social distancing will be required for all in-person activities on campus this fall, including in classes and labs, as a means to reduce possible virus transmission and to reduce the potential disruption to students’ learning by needing to quarantine close contacts. When in class, both students and instructors should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arm lengths) between one another. The task groups continue to review all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Changes will be communicated for those that have already registered, and opportunities to work with advisers will be made available. Some non-classroom spaces will be repurposed for instruction and every class that meets in person will allow for appropriate social distancing. Additional measures — for example, assigned seating and monitoring of attendance to help facilitate contact tracing will be deployed as considered necessary. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, and classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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Leading up to the fall semester, the University conducted a review of all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Based on a variety of factors, for example the needs and size of a class, in-person classes were reassigned to larger rooms to accommodate social distancing requirements.

Other changes to classrooms included revising room layouts; establishing a distanced space for instructors; and identifying room capacities and potential alternative spaces for classes to take place. These efforts, along with the fall’s flexible educational model with some classes delivered remotely, will lower classroom population density, allow for social distancing and meet both educational and safety goals.

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At this time employee temperature screening requirements will only apply in units with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, employees are strongly encouraged to self-monitor their temperature and complete the COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app daily before coming to campus for work. Anyone who has a fever or feels sick should stay home and consult their health care provider. Additional protocols to uphold employee health include social distancing and masking requirements in the workplace. To learn more, visit https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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For the safety of all employees and to align with social distancing to maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance among employees, supervisors have been asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating, including moving furniture, removing excess chairs, and reconfiguring seating as appropriate. In cases where necessary, such as spaces where employees interact face-to-face with students and customers, plexiglass or other dividers have been installed. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues have been installed in high-traffic areas, common areas, and other shared locations across the campuses.

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.

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Changes will be made to offices and workspaces, as needed, to support social distancing and prioritize employees’ health and well-being. For example, supervisors will be asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating or stagger work shifts, breaks, and arrival and departure times to align with social distancing and maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance between employees. Meetings should be conducted virtually when possible, and employees should avoid use of break rooms, kitchens and other shared spaces as a gathering area. To learn more, visit sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

As a reminder, unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

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Yes. Employees will receive two cloth face masks. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all employees will be required to wear masks — ideally cloth — while on campus, including outdoors, in hallways, classrooms, shared work areas, and other public spaces. Masks should be worn at all times, even while practicing social distancing. However, masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, when isolated in a private office or vehicle, or when use adversely affects an employee’s safety or health.

Employees isolated in their personal office space, which is not shared with any other colleagues, do not need to wear a mask, per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. However, when an employee leaves their individual office or has invited a colleague into their office, they must wear a mask. Wearing masks while working at one’s desk is required in a shared office or cubicle setting, even when social distancing is maintained. Additional information on universal masking is available in the “Employee Guidance for Working on Campus” resource on the Penn State Environmental Health and Safety COVID-19 website.

Face shields are not considered an adequate substitute for masks, but should be worn in combination with a cloth or procedure mask in certain circumstances outlined in the “PPE and Instruction Recommendations per Learning Environment” section of the Universal Masking and PPE Recommendations document. Additional information related to PPE and the use of face shields also is available on the University’s Keep Teaching website.

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Yes. Face masks, soap and hand-sanitizer stations, disinfectant sprays and wipes will be available for all units to purchase through General Stores. The University also has procured several thousand additional hand-sanitizer stations, which will be placed in high-traffic areas.

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As part of the planning process for a phased return to work, processes and protocols have been put in place to support supervisors and employees when a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19. Among these protocols, contact tracing will begin and employees and students who have been in close contact with the individual will be notified, asked to quarantine while the individual is tested (even if asymptomatic), and to begin monitoring for symptoms. The individual’s work area will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedure in compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols.

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Penn State Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in coordination with University Health Services and Human Resources, has developed new protocols related to COVID-19 to help protect the health of employees who are working on campus.

These processes include instructions for supervisors who are responding to reported COVID-19 cases, the University’s cloth mask requirement, cleaning procedures, and guidance for employees working on campus. In addition, they include direction for employees to contact Penn State Absence Management at absence@psu.edu or 814-865-1782 if they are self-quarantining, exposed to or develop symptoms of the virus.

Additional information is available on Penn State News and at https://ehs.psu.edu/covid19.

For additional health and safety FAQs for employees working on campus, visit https://ehs.psu.edu/sites/ehs/files/employee_working_on_campus_questions.pdf. 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.

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The health of the Penn State community is our highest priority, and we must all do our part in preventing the possible spread of coronavirus. Penn State faculty and staff are encouraged to stay home if they feel sick, particularly if they have a fever. We are asking faculty and employee supervisors to be flexible with work and class absences.

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See HRG11 Family and Medical Leave.

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Yes, however, to reduce the potential for person-to-person contact during the coronavirus outbreak, the University Health Services Pharmacy at University Park will no longer allow walk-ins and instead will only provide prescriptions by mail or curbside pickup, available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, until further notice.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News story.

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Will we still need to follow the same health and safety protocols on campus this spring?

To continue on-campus learning, work and other activities in the spring, it’s vital that students, faculty and staff at all campuses and in adjacent communities do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear face masks, practice social distancing and avoid gatherings in line with public health guidelines. This spring, students, employees and visitors will be required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks at all times in campus buildings; outdoors when they cannot be physically distant from others; and whenever state or local laws require. The University also requires students and most employees to participate in random surveillance testing of around 1% of a campus population daily in order to detect, track, mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.

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On June 2, the University charged a Health Resources Task Group to develop options and recommendations for testing and contact tracing that could minimize the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission and enable a return to working and learning on campuses. A seven-person steering committee, with support from 30 individuals from University Park, the College of Medicine, and the Commonwealth campuses, submitted a report on July 2, which informed the sample testing and contact tracing strategy adopted by the University. The report is accessible via this link.

There has been interest in the University’s simulation modeling that informed its pre-arrival testing strategy. The University based its approach on modeling that showed that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood of avoiding an outbreak that would exceed local hospital capacity. The report provides greater detail. The pre-arrival process is complete. The following analysis suggests the number of potentially infectious students returning to University Park to start the semester would have been less than or equal to 38.

Pre-arrival testing estimation:

Following initial risk modeling we determined the likelihood of an outbreak in the community surrounding the University Park campus that would exceed the inpatient capacity at Mount Nittany Medical Center prior to the semester break in November was highly sensitive to the initial number of infectious students returning to campus as the start of the semester. Specifically, stochastic model situations suggested that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood that such an outbreak could be avoided through a combination of preventive actions (masking and distancing), routine asymptomatic screening of 1% of the campus population each day, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

A review by our testing task force established that the time required to conduct pre-arrival testing for all Penn State students would render the strategy inviable. In order to complete testing within a short time window, as close to student return as possible, we established a plan to test a subset of returning students. To maximize the impact per test conducted, we modeled the expected prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at the county level across the U.S. To estimate the total prevalence in each U.S. county we counted all reported COVID cases assuming that 1 in 10 infections are detected and reported. We assumed that the probability that a student returning to campus from any U.S. county was infectious was equal to the estimated prevalence in their home county (e.g. a student is a randomly chosen individual from the county) [NOTE: the methods we used are analogous to those here https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu, which have been widely used elsewhere and covered in the media]. Thus, tests allocated to counties with the highest estimated prevalence would have the highest probability of preventing an infectious student returning to campus. Each test allocated reduced the expected number of returning infectious students by a value equal to the county prevalence (which itself was considerably less than 1). Thus, we prioritized the allocation of tests to those U.S. counties with the highest estimated prevalence to maximize the reduction in infectious students returning to campuses.

If no pre-arrival testing were done, we estimated that the number of students returning infectious to the University Park campus would be approximately 300. Thus, for University Park, we allocated pre-arrival tests such that the expected number of infectious students returning to campus was less than 50. After targeted allocation of tests to students that were serving as RAs or in other high contact roles during move-in and orientation, we expected that number of potentially infectious students returning to the University Park campus would be less than or equal to 38; thus, reducing the expected number of infectious students returning by 87%.

For the smaller Commonwealth Campuses, we set a lower target threshold of 10 infectious students returning. Many of the smaller Commonwealth Campuses had a total expected number of infectious returning students less than 10 in the absence of any pre-arrival testing. In this case we allocated pre-arrival testing proportional to campus size to guarantee pre-arrival testing at all campuses.

As test results were returned, we were able to evaluate whether or not our predicted county-level prevalence was consistent with the observed prevalence among our tested students. This analysis revealed that students residing in high prevalence counties outside of Pennsylvania were positive at rates lower than we predicted. The rate of positive students residing in high prevalence counties within Pennsylvania was strongly correlated with our estimates — counties that we prioritized as high-risk had higher proportions of infected students. However, we found that our estimates had under-estimated the expected number of infected students in these counties. Because we invited all students in the high prevalence counties to be tested, our strategy was robust to this underestimation; that is, by testing 100% of students in a county we expected to catch all infected students whether the number was 10 or 15.

Operational delays in test results (some due to unforeseen events, such as a tropical storm causing transport delays) meant that less than 100% of invited students were tested prior to campus return. Using our analysis of observed COVID prevalence among the tests that had been returned, we were able to prioritize subsequent testing of returning students through additional efforts, including on-campus testing some students at the time of arrival. The very large number of tests done at the University Park campus also allowed us to identify high-risk Pennsylvania counties based on our testing results, rather than our a priori model, and allocate additional pre-arrival tests to students returning to Commonwealth Campuses from these counties.

Health Resources Task Group Membership:

Kevin Black, MD (Co-Lead)
Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Steve Tracey (Co-Lead)
Smeal College of Business
Professor of Practice, Supply-Chain and Information Systems (SC&IS)
Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Research
Executive Director, Penn State Executive Programs

Mark A. Bates
Medical Director for Penn State’s Occupational Medicine Program
Division of the Office of Human Resources

Lauren Bechtel (admin. support)
Program Director, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Michael Brignati
Associate General Counsel
Office of the President

David M. Callejo Pérez
Associate Vice President and Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Programs

James Crandall
Director of Environmental Health and Safety

Duane Elmore
Director Procurement Services

Cara Exten, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Matthew Ferrari
Associate Professor of Biology

Patty Franklin
Associate Vice President for HR Operations

Melissa George, MD
Interim Chair Department of Pathology, College of Medicine

Frank Guadagnino
Vice President for Administration
Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Kevin Harter
Associate Dean for Medical Innovation Professor of Practice, Entrepreneurship
Penn State College of Medicine

Nirmal Joshi, MD
System Chief Medical Officer
Mount Nittany Health

Dovizia Long
Labor Relations Strategist

Cindy Lynch (admin. support)
Chief of Staff for Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Stanley Martin, MD
Infectious Diseases, Geisinger

John Mason
Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg

Robin Ella Oliver-Veronesi, MD, CPE
Senior Director of University Health Services

Catharine Paules, MD
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases
Penn State College of Medicine
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Nick (Vittal) Prabhu
Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair Service Enterprise Engineering

Andrew Read
Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology; Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

Kusumal Ruamsook
Research Associate and Teaching Professor, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Jennifer Santiago
Assistant Vice President of Risk Management and University Risk Officer

Wayne Sebastianelli, MD
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Penn State College of Medicine
State College Regional Medical Campus

Dennis Scanlon
Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration

Jen Stedelin
Associate Vice President, Enterprise Applications Penn State Information Technology

Michael Stefan
Director of State Relations
Office of Government and Community Relations

Richard Sparrow
Acting Chief Information Security Officer Office of Information Security

Lisa Vavala
Director of Nursing, Assistant Clinical Director of University Health Services

Kelly A. Wolgast
DNP, RN, FACHE, FAAN COL (R), US Army
Director of COVID-19 Operations Control Center
Associate Teaching Professor, College of Nursing
Assistant Dean for Outreach and Professional Development, College of Nursing

Hui Yang
Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering PI & Site Director: NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT)
Affiliate Faculty: Bioengineering, Institute of Cyberscience, CIMP-3D

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Students and employees should become familiar with guidelines and expectations for quarantine and isolation for this semester, as part of the University’s comprehensive multi-layered approach to testing, contact tracing and monitoring in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While isolation and quarantine are both intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.

The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.

Quarantine:

— Since symptoms typically develop between two to 14 days after exposure, students and employees who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and/or been identified during the University’s contact tracing process must quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the individual, in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.

— Faculty and staff should quarantine at home, students living on campus will quarantine in space identified on their campus, and case managers will evaluate quarantine needs for students living off campus as part of the contact tracing process. During quarantine, you may or may not develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you do experience symptoms, please contact your health care provider; students can contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or their primary care provider.

Isolation:

— Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate. Faculty and staff should isolate at home, students living on campus will stay in isolation space on campus, and students living off campus will be accommodated with on-campus isolation space to the extent that the University is able. Individuals should not return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.

— According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be with others after at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared, after at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and after symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, your health care provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).

During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or primary care provider. Faculty and staff who test positive will need to report their positive status to their supervisor, so their unit can begin the contact tracing process, and self-isolate off campus. For more information about the University’s testing and contact tracing plan, read this story in Penn State News.

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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.

Multi-layer cloth masks or procedure masks are the preferred type of face covering. There 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. At this time, it is recommended that all faculty, staff and students wear a multi-layer mask or procedure mask. All face coverings must cover the nose and chin.

Guidelines surrounding the use of cloth masks are available on the EHS website and also on the University’s virus information website. If you encounter someone wearing a mask with an exhaust valve in the instructional or work setting, respond to the person as though they forgot to wear a mask. Offer them an extra mask and remind the individual to not wear a mask with a valve in the future.

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In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health guidelines, wearing face masks and adhering to social 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.

To aid in this effort, the University purchased 500,000 masks to be distributed across all campuses for people who need them. In addition, distance markers, directional arrows, signs and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations, which also will be reconfigured with social-distancing principles in mind. Tables, chairs and lounge furniture will be rearranged and/or blocked for use in some locations, and posting of maximum occupancy and do-not-congregate signs for most areas will become the norm, in accordance with the governor’s higher education guidance.

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Maintaining the health and safety of the campus and local communities is the top priority driving Penn State’s decision-making and policy changes as it relates to the pandemic.

As part of a layered approach, Penn State has implemented a COVID-19 testing program that consists of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

In addition, the University has developed requirements for students to meet prior to returning to campus and local communities this semester. For example, all students must self-quarantine — even if you do not feel sick or have no symptoms — for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival on campus, prior to moving into off-campus housing, or prior to starting classes if you are already living off-campus. Those who are sick, think you have been exposed to COVID or are experiencing symptoms, should continue to isolate and not return to campus until cleared by a medical professional.

Penn State also will encourage flu shots for all students before the onset of flu season, or certainly before the start of the spring semester, with an eye toward addressing the complicated season that is likely to include flu along with COVID-19, and to reducing as much as possible, a demand for health facilities in order to maintain capacity for the severely ill. At University Park, Penn State’s largest campus, officials are working closely with Mount Nittany Medical Center as part of collaboration with local public health entities, in accordance with state guidance. In addition, partnerships in the communities in which Commonwealth Campuses are situated also are taking place.

All actions being implemented are based on guidance from Penn State health experts and scientists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, among others. The University will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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To help create a safer learning, living and working environment for all students, faculty and staff, new classroom policies will be in effect this fall across Penn State’s campuses in alignment with public health recommendations and Gov. Tom Wolf’s requirements for higher education institutions. Specific policy guidance has been posted to the Office of Student Conduct website.

To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required for all students and employees in all University buildings, including in classrooms, labs and offices, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible.

While high levels of compliance are expected based on feedback from recent student and employee University surveys, those who put others at risk by not following the University’s requirements will be held accountable in a manner consistent with how other violations of Penn State guidelines and policies are managed.

To learn more, read this Penn State News story.

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Classroom Guidance for Instructors is posted on the website for the Office of Student Conduct. This document describes the steps that faculty can take to provide a positive learning environment and manage COVID-related concerns in the classroom. The guidance includes a sample statement for faculty to include in their course syllabi as well as a series of steps that faculty can take if a student fails to adhere to health and safety requirements. Students who fail to comply with requirements will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and will not be allowed to return until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process. For more information on how to prepare to manage classrooms this fall, watch this video featuring Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

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The University developed plans to support the health and safety of all employees during the transition back to in-person work functions. These plans include enhanced disinfecting protocols, required mask-wearing, and alterations to classroom and office environments to allow for proper social distancing. Even with these measures, Penn State recognizes that employees who are part of a vulnerable population, such as those who are immunocompromised, or those who live with individuals who are part of a vulnerable group, may have concerns about returning to the workplace.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who are in this situation and have concerns about returning to on-site work should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

Employees who believe that they have a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation or leave should contact the Affirmative Action Office or Absence Management, as appropriate.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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Faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Additional information is available in this Penn State News article.

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The health and well-being of the Penn State community is the University’s first priority as we welcome the community back to our campuses. Significant prevention and public health procedures have been implemented to help maintain the health and safety of our students, employees and local communities. Click here to read Penn State’s “Back to State” COVID-19 Health and Safety Plan, which has been submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Specific to public health, as part of a “new normal” for returning to campus, all students, faculty and staff members will be expected to take personal actions to help protect themselves and others on campus — the success of the University’s plans will be largely dependent on everyone doing their part. While on campus, students, employees and visitors are required to wear face masks or coverings, practice social distancing, practice hand hygiene by frequently washing and sanitizing, follow protocols for covering coughs and sneezes, stay home if sick, and clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. The University will employ enhanced cleaning and sanitation, hygiene stations, plexiglass, signage and various other measures to provide for physical distancing and other health and safety needs.

Additional guidance for members of the University will continue to be provided at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/, which will be updated regularly with the latest information and guidance as we all work together toward a safe return.

Since March, more than 250 individuals serving on 16 task groups and subcommittees have prepared for a coordinated return to on-campus working, learning and living for students and employees across each of the University’s campuses. Penn State has taken a robust public health and science-based approach to inform how it is managing social distancing, limiting the size of events, and providing learning environments that are as safe as reasonably possible. Penn State will meet or exceed the expectations for colleges and universities that have been outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for returning students and employees to campus.

University leadership and the task groups have worked with governance and advisory bodies, including the University Faculty Senate and the University Staff Advisory Council, to work through the details of course delivery, classroom and workplace safety, and other aspects of the return to campus.

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Yes, social distancing will be required for all in-person activities on campus this fall, including in classes and labs, as a means to reduce possible virus transmission and to reduce the potential disruption to students’ learning by needing to quarantine close contacts. When in class, both students and instructors should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arm lengths) between one another. The task groups continue to review all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Changes will be communicated for those that have already registered, and opportunities to work with advisers will be made available. Some non-classroom spaces will be repurposed for instruction and every class that meets in person will allow for appropriate social distancing. Additional measures — for example, assigned seating and monitoring of attendance to help facilitate contact tracing will be deployed as considered necessary. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, and classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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Leading up to the fall semester, the University conducted a review of all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Based on a variety of factors, for example the needs and size of a class, in-person classes were reassigned to larger rooms to accommodate social distancing requirements.

Other changes to classrooms included revising room layouts; establishing a distanced space for instructors; and identifying room capacities and potential alternative spaces for classes to take place. These efforts, along with the fall’s flexible educational model with some classes delivered remotely, will lower classroom population density, allow for social distancing and meet both educational and safety goals.

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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 here: https://keepteaching.psu.edu/instructional-issues-for-return-to-resident-instruction/

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By following University and CDC guidelines for masking, social distancing and hand hygiene, students can have a direct impact in achieving an extended return to learning and living on campus this fall. Upon returning to campus, students are asked to take personal responsibility both on and off campus and to sign the Penn State COVID-19 Compact to help uphold the health of the community by following University guidelines.

Mask wearing and social distancing will be required in class, and faculty members have discretion to make delivery modality adjustments if they have concerns about adherence to University requirements. Faculty members have long had considerable influence over behavior in the classroom, either through informal conversations with students or through grading and class participation polices. Students will be warned first, but faculty have the authority to remove students from class if they refuse to comply. Where students fail to comply despite these efforts, faculty members can refer students to the University’s conduct process through the Office of Student Conduct, and students will be required to participate in a disciplinary process before they can return to the classroom. Faculty have received guidance on enforcement, and they will be supported in these critical measures.

To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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As always, the safety of faculty, staff, students and the community is our top priority. A return to work for employees is being approached deliberately and is being organized into phases. Some employees have continued to work on campuses to perform mission-critical work and others have begun returning in stages, including researchers who are unable to perform their work from home. Moving forward, other employees whose work must be completed on site will continue to return to campuses. Employees who are currently telecommuting but whose work can be more effectively performed on campus will be the next group to return to on-site work.

As the semester unfolds and the University continues to monitor the situation, employees who can effectively work remotely will be the last group to return to their workspaces, if needed. More information will be shared with individual units and employees regarding when they should expect to return to campus. In these cases, managers will be asked to develop plans that will facilitate the safe return of staff members, which will include social distancing, wearing appropriate face coverings, limiting the numbers of people in offices at any time and plans for additional cleaning.

Additional and up-to-date information related to return to work is available at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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At this time employee temperature screening requirements will only apply in units with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, employees are strongly encouraged to self-monitor their temperature and complete the COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app daily before coming to campus for work. Anyone who has a fever or feels sick should stay home and consult their health care provider. Additional protocols to uphold employee health include social distancing and masking requirements in the workplace. To learn more, visit https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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Yes. Employees will receive two cloth face masks. In accordance with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, all employees will be required to wear masks — ideally cloth — while on campus, including outdoors, in hallways, classrooms, shared work areas, and other public spaces. Masks should be worn at all times, even while practicing social distancing. However, masks do not need to be worn when eating or drinking, when isolated in a private office or vehicle, or when use adversely affects an employee’s safety or health.

Employees isolated in their personal office space, which is not shared with any other colleagues, do not need to wear a mask, per Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. However, when an employee leaves their individual office or has invited a colleague into their office, they must wear a mask. Wearing masks while working at one’s desk is required in a shared office or cubicle setting, even when social distancing is maintained. Additional information on universal masking is available in the “Employee Guidance for Working on Campus” resource on the Penn State Environmental Health and Safety COVID-19 website.

Face shields are not considered an adequate substitute for masks, but should be worn in combination with a cloth or procedure mask in certain circumstances outlined in the “PPE and Instruction Recommendations per Learning Environment” section of the Universal Masking and PPE Recommendations document. Additional information related to PPE and the use of face shields also is available on the University’s Keep Teaching website.

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Who is able to be tested via Penn State’s on-demand testing and random screening programs?

At University Park, University Health Services provides appointment-based, “on-demand” testing for students who have COVID-19-related symptoms. If a student is symptomatic, they should seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

For University Park students who are asymptomatic but self-identify as having COVID-19 exposure or want to be tested for other reasons, a voluntary walk-up testing site is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena. By allowing students to be tested who feel that they may have been exposed rather than solely those who have been identified by the contact tracing process, these expanded testing efforts will supplement and hasten the University’s existing contact tracing efforts and the deployment of quarantine and isolation.

Both students and employees may be selected by the University for random screening as part of the University’s ongoing surveillance testing program. Students and employees will be provided with instructions via email about where to go for this testing when they are selected.

More information on COVID-19 testing options at University Park is available from Penn State Student Affairs.

For Commonwealth Campus students and employees, random screening is being conducted by Vault Health. Individuals selected for random screening will receive an email that includes specific directions on next steps. It is important that selected individuals register for their test within 48 hours of receiving the email and then complete their test within 48 hours of having the test kit in hand. On-demand testing for Commonwealth Campus students is being conducted by Quest. Symptomatic students should contact their campus health center or testing contact for directions on how to obtain a test kit.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is offering on-demand, asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff who are working on campus at University Park and wish to be tested.

Walk-up COVID-19 testing for employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database is available on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena starting Oct. 9. The testing center is open for employees only from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, or employees may walk up at any time during the center’s normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Individuals who visit Pegula Ice Arena for walk-up testing must enter through Gate A – the main entry at the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive.

This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. Employees should work with their supervisor to request time to obtain COVID-19 testing. Registration is not required. Employees who wish to be tested must bring identification and a smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free for employees.

Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be tested at the walk-up testing site. Any employee who feels sick with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is conducting a randomized COVID-19 surveillance testing program to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 across all campuses. The University will perform daily testing of at least 1% of the student, faculty and staff population across Penn State’s campuses. 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 surveillance 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.

For additional information about surveillance testing, read this story in Penn State News. Three new COVID-19 surveillance testing sites will be open for Penn State employees and students on the University Park campus starting Oct. 7. These indoor locations replace previous University Park campus testing locations and expand services to include employee-only hours.

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On June 2, the University charged a Health Resources Task Group to develop options and recommendations for testing and contact tracing that could minimize the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission and enable a return to working and learning on campuses. A seven-person steering committee, with support from 30 individuals from University Park, the College of Medicine, and the Commonwealth campuses, submitted a report on July 2, which informed the sample testing and contact tracing strategy adopted by the University. The report is accessible via this link.

There has been interest in the University’s simulation modeling that informed its pre-arrival testing strategy. The University based its approach on modeling that showed that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood of avoiding an outbreak that would exceed local hospital capacity. The report provides greater detail. The pre-arrival process is complete. The following analysis suggests the number of potentially infectious students returning to University Park to start the semester would have been less than or equal to 38.

Pre-arrival testing estimation:

Following initial risk modeling we determined the likelihood of an outbreak in the community surrounding the University Park campus that would exceed the inpatient capacity at Mount Nittany Medical Center prior to the semester break in November was highly sensitive to the initial number of infectious students returning to campus as the start of the semester. Specifically, stochastic model situations suggested that if the number of students returning to campus infectious was less than 50, there was a high likelihood that such an outbreak could be avoided through a combination of preventive actions (masking and distancing), routine asymptomatic screening of 1% of the campus population each day, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.

A review by our testing task force established that the time required to conduct pre-arrival testing for all Penn State students would render the strategy inviable. In order to complete testing within a short time window, as close to student return as possible, we established a plan to test a subset of returning students. To maximize the impact per test conducted, we modeled the expected prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at the county level across the U.S. To estimate the total prevalence in each U.S. county we counted all reported COVID cases assuming that 1 in 10 infections are detected and reported. We assumed that the probability that a student returning to campus from any U.S. county was infectious was equal to the estimated prevalence in their home county (e.g. a student is a randomly chosen individual from the county) [NOTE: the methods we used are analogous to those here https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu, which have been widely used elsewhere and covered in the media]. Thus, tests allocated to counties with the highest estimated prevalence would have the highest probability of preventing an infectious student returning to campus. Each test allocated reduced the expected number of returning infectious students by a value equal to the county prevalence (which itself was considerably less than 1). Thus, we prioritized the allocation of tests to those U.S. counties with the highest estimated prevalence to maximize the reduction in infectious students returning to campuses.

If no pre-arrival testing were done, we estimated that the number of students returning infectious to the University Park campus would be approximately 300. Thus, for University Park, we allocated pre-arrival tests such that the expected number of infectious students returning to campus was less than 50. After targeted allocation of tests to students that were serving as RAs or in other high contact roles during move-in and orientation, we expected that number of potentially infectious students returning to the University Park campus would be less than or equal to 38; thus, reducing the expected number of infectious students returning by 87%.

For the smaller Commonwealth Campuses, we set a lower target threshold of 10 infectious students returning. Many of the smaller Commonwealth Campuses had a total expected number of infectious returning students less than 10 in the absence of any pre-arrival testing. In this case we allocated pre-arrival testing proportional to campus size to guarantee pre-arrival testing at all campuses.

As test results were returned, we were able to evaluate whether or not our predicted county-level prevalence was consistent with the observed prevalence among our tested students. This analysis revealed that students residing in high prevalence counties outside of Pennsylvania were positive at rates lower than we predicted. The rate of positive students residing in high prevalence counties within Pennsylvania was strongly correlated with our estimates — counties that we prioritized as high-risk had higher proportions of infected students. However, we found that our estimates had under-estimated the expected number of infected students in these counties. Because we invited all students in the high prevalence counties to be tested, our strategy was robust to this underestimation; that is, by testing 100% of students in a county we expected to catch all infected students whether the number was 10 or 15.

Operational delays in test results (some due to unforeseen events, such as a tropical storm causing transport delays) meant that less than 100% of invited students were tested prior to campus return. Using our analysis of observed COVID prevalence among the tests that had been returned, we were able to prioritize subsequent testing of returning students through additional efforts, including on-campus testing some students at the time of arrival. The very large number of tests done at the University Park campus also allowed us to identify high-risk Pennsylvania counties based on our testing results, rather than our a priori model, and allocate additional pre-arrival tests to students returning to Commonwealth Campuses from these counties.

Health Resources Task Group Membership:

Kevin Black, MD (Co-Lead)
Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Steve Tracey (Co-Lead)
Smeal College of Business
Professor of Practice, Supply-Chain and Information Systems (SC&IS)
Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Research
Executive Director, Penn State Executive Programs

Mark A. Bates
Medical Director for Penn State’s Occupational Medicine Program
Division of the Office of Human Resources

Lauren Bechtel (admin. support)
Program Director, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Michael Brignati
Associate General Counsel
Office of the President

David M. Callejo Pérez
Associate Vice President and Sr. Associate Dean for Academic Programs

James Crandall
Director of Environmental Health and Safety

Duane Elmore
Director Procurement Services

Cara Exten, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing

Matthew Ferrari
Associate Professor of Biology

Patty Franklin
Associate Vice President for HR Operations

Melissa George, MD
Interim Chair Department of Pathology, College of Medicine

Frank Guadagnino
Vice President for Administration
Secretary of the Board of Trustees

Kevin Harter
Associate Dean for Medical Innovation Professor of Practice, Entrepreneurship
Penn State College of Medicine

Nirmal Joshi, MD
System Chief Medical Officer
Mount Nittany Health

Dovizia Long
Labor Relations Strategist

Cindy Lynch (admin. support)
Chief of Staff for Interim Dean, Penn State College of Medicine

Stanley Martin, MD
Infectious Diseases, Geisinger

John Mason
Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg

Robin Ella Oliver-Veronesi, MD, CPE
Senior Director of University Health Services

Catharine Paules, MD
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases
Penn State College of Medicine
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Nick (Vittal) Prabhu
Charles and Enid Schneider Faculty Chair Service Enterprise Engineering

Andrew Read
Director, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences
Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology; Eberly Professor of Biotechnology

Kusumal Ruamsook
Research Associate and Teaching Professor, Smeal College of Business
Center for Supply Chain Research

Jennifer Santiago
Assistant Vice President of Risk Management and University Risk Officer

Wayne Sebastianelli, MD
Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Penn State College of Medicine
State College Regional Medical Campus

Dennis Scanlon
Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Administration

Jen Stedelin
Associate Vice President, Enterprise Applications Penn State Information Technology

Michael Stefan
Director of State Relations
Office of Government and Community Relations

Richard Sparrow
Acting Chief Information Security Officer Office of Information Security

Lisa Vavala
Director of Nursing, Assistant Clinical Director of University Health Services

Kelly A. Wolgast
DNP, RN, FACHE, FAAN COL (R), US Army
Director of COVID-19 Operations Control Center
Associate Teaching Professor, College of Nursing
Assistant Dean for Outreach and Professional Development, College of Nursing

Hui Yang
Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering PI & Site Director: NSF Center for Health Organization Transformation (CHOT)
Affiliate Faculty: Bioengineering, Institute of Cyberscience, CIMP-3D

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To support the health and well-being of the University community this fall, Penn State has implemented a contact tracing process in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Health as part of a layered tracing and testing approach for students and employees across all campuses. To limit community spread and transmission, the University’s contact tracing process focuses on identifying, notifying and monitoring students and employees who came in close contact with a student or employee who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, or is presumed positive, while they were infectious.

The Penn State contact tracing program scales up existing contact tracing protocols and support services in place at the University. Tracing is directed by the COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC) and operated centrally by the Office of Student Affairs, with support and representation from the Commonwealth Campuses. The University and the Pennsylvania Department of Health are working in tandem to support state requirements for case investigation, which is the process of contacting those who test positive for COVID-19, or are presumed positive, and then reaching out to their close contacts.

The following steps outline the contact tracing process and what students and employees can expect:

— Step 1: Penn State will identify individuals who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or presumed positive.

— Step 2: Nursing staff will initiate contact with positive or presumed positive students and employees.

— Step 3: Contact tracers will communicate with employees and students identified as close contacts about health quarantine expectations and offer support.

— Step 4: Case managers will reach out daily, or on an as-needed basis, to students in isolation and/or quarantine to provide support and will notify faculty and instructors if a student is not permitted to attend class.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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Students and employees should become familiar with guidelines and expectations for quarantine and isolation for this semester, as part of the University’s comprehensive multi-layered approach to testing, contact tracing and monitoring in line with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. While isolation and quarantine are both intended to limit the spread of disease, they have different meanings and different time requirements. Quarantine helps prevent people from spreading coronavirus before they know they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms, while isolation is reserved for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.

Based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, time requirements for quarantine and isolation depend on a variety of factors, including whether an individual has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, is showing symptoms of COVID-19, has tested positive for COVID-19, and more.

The following provides a summary of quarantine and isolation time requirements for students and employees.

Quarantine:

— Since symptoms typically develop between two to 14 days after exposure, students and employees who believe they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 and/or been identified during the University’s contact tracing process must quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the individual, in accordance with the CDC guidelines. The CDC provides guidance on when to start and end quarantine based on various scenarios.

— Faculty and staff should quarantine at home, students living on campus will quarantine in space identified on their campus, and case managers will evaluate quarantine needs for students living off campus as part of the contact tracing process. During quarantine, you may or may not develop symptoms of COVID-19. If you do experience symptoms, please contact your health care provider; students can contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or their primary care provider.

Isolation:

— Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate for at least 10 days. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms and awaiting test results will need to isolate immediately. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate. Faculty and staff should isolate at home, students living on campus will stay in isolation space on campus, and students living off campus will be accommodated with on-campus isolation space to the extent that the University is able. Individuals should not return to on-campus work or classes until cleared by a medical professional in accordance with CDC guidelines.

— According to CDC isolation guidance, individuals who tested positive and experience symptoms can be with others after at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared, after at least 24 hours with no fever without fever-reducing medication, and after symptoms have improved. Individuals who tested positive but did not experience symptoms can be with others after 10 days have passed since the date of the positive test. For those who experienced severe illness, your health care provider may recommend that you stay in isolation for longer than 10 days after your symptoms first appeared (possibly up to 20 days).

During the semester, students who test positive or are exhibiting symptoms should immediately contact University Health Services, their campus health center, or primary care provider. Faculty and staff who test positive will need to report their positive status to their supervisor, so their unit can begin the contact tracing process, and self-isolate off campus. For more information about the University’s testing and contact tracing plan, read this story in Penn State News.

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Above all, the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff is the University’s top priority. Individuals who are sick, think they have been exposed to coronavirus, exhibit symptoms, and/or test positive for COVID-19 are expected to stay home and/or leave work right away. Employees should isolate, monitor their symptoms and seek medical care as needed. The University has developed isolation guidance for employees. Employees should notify their supervisors, so their unit can begin a process to conduct contact tracing, notify individuals in the unit to monitor for symptoms, and begin temperature checks and health screenings for those who have been in contact with the sick individual. Policies and programs will be in place to support employees who are recovering from and/or caring for partners and family members with COVID-19. Most individuals who need to miss work due to COVID-19 to care for themselves or another individual are eligible to receive pay (up to certain maximums) for up to the first 80 hours, depending on full-time or part-time status, regardless of available sick time. Additional time off will be paid through accrued sick leave or short-term disability, if elected.

Penn State Absence Management will answer questions and assist employees with additional needs.

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When a student or employee is identified as being positive for COVID-19, Penn State nursing staff will reach out to them to provide support and isolation guidance and to collect information about that person’s close contacts. A Penn State contact tracer will then reach out to students and employees identified as close contacts to gain additional information and provide directions and health precautions. As part the University’s partnership with the Pennsylvanyia Department of Health, a contact tracer from the state also will reach out to Penn State students and employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to identify close contacts who are not affiliated with the University; the state will follow up with those close contacts.

In accordance with state guidance, close contacts are defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes starting from 48 hours before the person began feeling sick (or when they test positive, if asymptomatic) until the time the patient was isolated.

More detailed information about contact tracing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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The University is employing strategies to create an effective detection and management system for all of its campuses, including testing, contact tracing, and monitoring and reacting to trends in data at the community and national levels.

Penn State has put in place a robust COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program consisting of in-house and third-party contracted testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The plan includes testing for 30,000 students, faculty and staff from locations with a high prevalence of the disease before arrival on campus, as well as daily testing throughout the semester.

The University will conduct surveillance testing of faculty, staff and students on its campuses throughout the semester, testing about 1% of our campus populations (about 700 people) per day. The plan includes random and risk-stratified surveillance testing as well as asymptomatic testing for individuals who are identified in the contact-tracing process.

Additionally, the University has set up on-campus testing capabilities using existing resources in a new Testing and Surveillance Center, which will be used for surveillance testing at University Park.

Penn State will hire additional staff to serve as contact tracers as needed to support all campuses and plans to enhance access to early health-care consultation and treatment. Contact-tracing supports virus case detection and is designed to help prevent future outbreaks. The University also is building capacity to isolate and quarantine individuals who test positive, including support for isolated persons, to facilitate proper medical care.

More detailed information about symptomatic and asymptomatic testing may be found in this Penn State News story.

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At this time employee temperature screening requirements will only apply in units with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. However, employees are strongly encouraged to self-monitor their temperature and complete the COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app daily before coming to campus for work. Anyone who has a fever or feels sick should stay home and consult their health care provider. Additional protocols to uphold employee health include social distancing and masking requirements in the workplace. To learn more, visit https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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What steps is the Office of Physical Plant taking to reduce the potential for spread of COVID-19 in classrooms, offices, restrooms and other indoor areas?

Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant (OPP) has been gearing up for months for the return to campus by carefully evaluating 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 (CDC) and undertaking intensive corrective and preventive maintenance for every building at every campus. Learn more about OPPs procedures and plans here.

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The University has reopened campus child care centers, consistent with all state and public health guidelines, to facilitate employees’ return to working on campus. The Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Center at University Park reopened on Aug. 19. Daybridge, which is managed by Bright Horizons, on the University Park campus reopened on Aug. 17. Information regarding Penn State child care centers will continue to be shared with families and employees.

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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 reservations@psu.edu.

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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.

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Yes, social distancing will be required for all in-person activities on campus this fall, including in classes and labs, as a means to reduce possible virus transmission and to reduce the potential disruption to students’ learning by needing to quarantine close contacts. When in class, both students and instructors should maintain a distance of six feet (about two arm lengths) between one another. The task groups continue to review all of Penn State’s more than 1,700 classrooms, seminar rooms and labs across all instructional campuses to accommodate for social distancing requirements. Changes will be communicated for those that have already registered, and opportunities to work with advisers will be made available. Some non-classroom spaces will be repurposed for instruction and every class that meets in person will allow for appropriate social distancing. Additional measures — for example, assigned seating and monitoring of attendance to help facilitate contact tracing will be deployed as considered necessary. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues will be installed in high-traffic areas, and classrooms, common areas, study spaces and other shared locations across the campuses.

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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 here: https://keepteaching.psu.edu/instructional-issues-for-return-to-resident-instruction/

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Many facilities are open, however, there may be occupancy limits in place and hours of operation may be adjusted for various buildings and facilities to support the health and safety of the campus community. Individuals are encouraged to check a building of facility’s website for specific hours and availability. For the latest updates on Campus Recreation facilities at University Park, visit studentaffairs.psu.edu/campusrec.

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For the safety of all employees and to align with social distancing to maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance among employees, supervisors have been asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating, including moving furniture, removing excess chairs, and reconfiguring seating as appropriate. In cases where necessary, such as spaces where employees interact face-to-face with students and customers, plexiglass or other dividers have been installed. To serve as a reminder to all, distance markers, directional arrows, signage and other visual cues have been installed in high-traffic areas, common areas, and other shared locations across the campuses.

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.

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Changes will be made to offices and workspaces, as needed, to support social distancing and prioritize employees’ health and well-being. For example, supervisors will be asked to identify strategies to reconfigure shared offices and seating or stagger work shifts, breaks, and arrival and departure times to align with social distancing and maintain a minimum six feet of physical distance between employees. Meetings should be conducted virtually when possible, and employees should avoid use of break rooms, kitchens and other shared spaces as a gathering area. To learn more, visit sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

As a reminder, unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

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Yes. Face masks, soap and hand-sanitizer stations, disinfectant sprays and wipes will be available for all units to purchase through General Stores. The University also has procured several thousand additional hand-sanitizer stations, which will be placed in high-traffic areas.

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The following provides information about the availability of campus and local transportation offerings. To support social distancing is strongly encouraged that transit services be used for essential trips only. Students, faculty and staff who are able are urged to walk or bike.

Campus Shuttle:

Penn State Transportation Services will operate its two Campus Shuttle routes this fall with reduced capacity of a maximum of five riders per vehicle. Masks are required. It is strongly encouraged that use of the campus shuttles be limited to essential trips only to maintain space for those with mobility disabilities. For more information, visit: transportation.psu.edu/campus-shuttle.

Hershey Shuttle:

The Hershey Shuttle will not operate until further notice. For the latest information, visit research.psu.edu/shuttle.

CATA:

CATA announced service changes for the fall, which went into effect on Saturday, Aug. 22, and will remain in place through the end of the fall 2020 semester. CATA’s fall schedule is available here.

Service changes that will be in effect throughout the fall semester include:

—No Blue Loop or White Loop campus transit service.

—No Sunday transit services.

—All CATA services will begin at 6 a.m. and end no later than 12:30 a.m. each day, with reduced service between 10 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

While Blue Loop and White Loop campus service will not be available, CATA will continue to operate the Red Link and Green Link campus routes this fall, with additional service to be added to the Green Link.

Full details on CATA’s fall 2020 operational plans and passenger protocols can be found at the CATA website, as well as in this Penn State News article.

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Yes, however, to reduce the potential for person-to-person contact during the coronavirus outbreak, the University Health Services Pharmacy at University Park will no longer allow walk-ins and instead will only provide prescriptions by mail or curbside pickup, available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, until further notice.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News story.

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To support entrepreneurs across the state, Penn State’s LaunchBoxes are offering a variety of virtual services, accelerator programs, speaker series, events, workshops and more while facilities are closed. For specific information about online programming and services, view this chart or contact your local LaunchBox.

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Pennsylvania College of Technology has announced a planned return to in-person instruction for the fall 2020 semester. For the latest information from Penn College, visit https://www.pct.edu/campus-life/college-health-services/coronavirus.

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What are the University’s plans with respect to football this year, as well as other fall sports? 

The Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors announced Sept. 16 that fall sports will resume, beginning with football on Oct. 23, following adoption of stringent medical protocols and guidelines. Updates regarding fall sports other than football, as well as winter sports that begin in the fall including men’s and women’s basketball, men’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and wrestling, are forthcoming.

University leaders have affirmed that health and safety is of the utmost priority as fall sports resume this semester, in a message to the community. Steps being taking include prohibiting tailgating; working with student leaders and organizations; following masking, social distancing and other COVID-related health guidelines; and continuing to partner with local and community leadership.

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Governor’s Guidance

An order issued by Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine on July 15 prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 25 and outdoor gatherings of more than 250. (Note: The order prohibiting indoor gatherings of more than 25 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.

Indoor meetings and events
Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required. All participants must wear masks and meeting/event organizers must take into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Requests to hold indoor meetings and events of between 11 and 25 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below). No indoor meetings or events of more than 25 participants are permitted.

Outdoor meetings and events
Outdoor meetings of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, taking into account the maximum occupancy of the space that allows for at least six feet of distance between participants. Masks are required when six feet of distance between participants cannot be maintained. Requests for outdoor meetings of between 11 and 250 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives (see “Approval Process” below. No outdoor meetings or events of more than 250 participants are permitted.

Approval Process
Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor meeting of between 11 and 25 participants, or an outdoor meeting or event of between 11 and 250 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 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn if the event is indoors and plans for abiding by social distancing guidelines must be included;
—Provide evidence that employees requesting to attend the meeting or event have been approved via the Return to Work process. A request must be made to return employees to the workplace at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/;
—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 ‘return to work’ approval status of employees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

Events should be scheduled with the full understanding that if the county in which the campus is located moves to the Yellow or Red phase or if state guidance otherwise changes, the guidelines for the county must be followed and the event may need to be cancelled.

Campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red Phase
At campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, no meetings or events of any kind with more than 10 attendees may be scheduled. For essential indoor events of between 11 and 25, or outdoor events of between 11 and 250, at campuses whose counties are in the Yellow or Red phase, approval to hold the event must be sought from Executive Vice President and Provost, Nicholas P. Jones, at provost@psu.edu. All requests must include a description of how social distancing will be maintained at the event.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas
Meetings that require travel between campuses that are in the Yellow or Red phase, or where participants are from states where cases of COVID-19 are rising, should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel 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.

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I am an employee. What should I do if I am feeling ill or feel that I may have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you are having COVID-19 symptoms, you should 1) leave work immediately if you are at work and self-isolate, 2) notify your supervisor, and 3) contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 or psuoccmed@psu.edu. Occupational Medicine will determine whether you need to be tested and whether the test should be ordered through your family physician or through Occupational Medicine. It is important to contact Occupational Medicine, because its staff will contact your supervisor and the University’s Absence Management on your behalf to inform them about when you will be out of the office and when you may be able to return. If you are working remotely, Occupational Medicine will still be able to advise you about testing. You may also wish to consult this chart if you have questions about how to proceed if you feel ill or feel that you may have been exposed.

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The University has reopened campus child care centers, consistent with all state and public health guidelines, to facilitate employees’ return to working on campus. The Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Center at University Park reopened on Aug. 19. Daybridge, which is managed by Bright Horizons, on the University Park campus reopened on Aug. 17. Information regarding Penn State child care centers will continue to be shared with families and employees.

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​The Internal Revenue Service recently allowed employers to offer workers flexibility with their health care plans and Flexible Spending Accounts, including health care and dependent care. Penn State is allowing employees to make some adjustments to their health care plans. More details can be found at https://news.psu.edu/story/626070/2020/07/22/administration/irs-allows-benefits-changes-response-covid-19.

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To help create a safer learning, living and working environment for all students, faculty and staff, new classroom policies will be in effect this fall across Penn State’s campuses in alignment with public health recommendations and Gov. Tom Wolf’s requirements for higher education institutions. Specific policy guidance has been posted to the Office of Student Conduct website.

To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required for all students and employees in all University buildings, including in classrooms, labs and offices, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible.

While high levels of compliance are expected based on feedback from recent student and employee University surveys, those who put others at risk by not following the University’s requirements will be held accountable in a manner consistent with how other violations of Penn State guidelines and policies are managed.

To learn more, read this Penn State News story.

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The University developed plans to support the health and safety of all employees during the transition back to in-person work functions. These plans include enhanced disinfecting protocols, required mask-wearing, and alterations to classroom and office environments to allow for proper social distancing. Even with these measures, Penn State recognizes that employees who are part of a vulnerable population, such as those who are immunocompromised, or those who live with individuals who are part of a vulnerable group, may have concerns about returning to the workplace.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who are in this situation and have concerns about returning to on-site work should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

Employees who believe that they have a disability that necessitates a reasonable accommodation or leave should contact the Affirmative Action Office or Absence Management, as appropriate.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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Faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Additional information is available in this Penn State News article.

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As always, the safety of faculty, staff, students and the community is our top priority. A return to work for employees is being approached deliberately and is being organized into phases. Some employees have continued to work on campuses to perform mission-critical work and others have begun returning in stages, including researchers who are unable to perform their work from home. Moving forward, other employees whose work must be completed on site will continue to return to campuses. Employees who are currently telecommuting but whose work can be more effectively performed on campus will be the next group to return to on-site work.

As the semester unfolds and the University continues to monitor the situation, employees who can effectively work remotely will be the last group to return to their workspaces, if needed. More information will be shared with individual units and employees regarding when they should expect to return to campus. In these cases, managers will be asked to develop plans that will facilitate the safe return of staff members, which will include social distancing, wearing appropriate face coverings, limiting the numbers of people in offices at any time and plans for additional cleaning.

Additional and up-to-date information related to return to work is available at https://sites.psu.edu/returntowork/.

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The health of faculty and staff members remains the University’s top priority as part of a phased return, and processes and protocols are being put in place to help support safe working environments across the campuses.

The University does not expect faculty who are immunocompromised, live with someone who may be, or have other special circumstances to teach in a physical classroom. Faculty who have concerns about teaching in person should work with their unit executive (dean, chancellor or a designee) to request work adjustments and discuss available options. Units are being advised that faculty requests to work remotely due to such concerns should be allowed if feasible.

Faculty members are urged to consider a variety of available instructional modalities that may give them the flexibility to fulfill their teaching duties. In addition, faculty who are part of a vulnerable population or who have other challenges with providing in-person instruction at any point during the semester should work with their supervisors to determine how adjustments can be made. Units are encouraged to remain flexible and think creatively about work adjustments while continuing to meet their educational goals.

Additional information and guidance is available and regularly updated at https://keepteaching.psu.edu/fall-2020/. Instructors should also directly review “Instructional Issues for Return to Resident Instruction,” and Return to Work resources for faculty.

Staff members, including technical service employees, who have concerns about returning to on-site work, including those who are immunocompromised, live with someone who may be, or have other special circumstances, should make specific requests to their manager to continue to work remotely, if feasible for unit operations, or to alter the nature of their work or their work schedule. Unless otherwise informed by their supervisor, employees who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice.

For more information, visit the Return to Work website, which includes specific information for faculty, staff and technical service employees, as well as this Penn State News article.

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As part of the planning process for a phased return to work, processes and protocols have been put in place to support supervisors and employees when a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19. Among these protocols, contact tracing will begin and employees and students who have been in close contact with the individual will be notified, asked to quarantine while the individual is tested (even if asymptomatic), and to begin monitoring for symptoms. The individual’s work area will undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfecting procedure in compliance with Pennsylvania Department of Health protocols.

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Given uncertainties about the status of local schools for the upcoming school year, as well as the individual circumstances of employees, the University is asking supervisors to be flexible in working with employees who find themselves without child care. Telecommuting may be an option for employees currently working remotely who can continue to perform the duties of their jobs from home. Faculty members teaching in-person classes in the fall should discuss their circumstances with their academic supervisors. However, all employees need to have individual conversations with their supervisor/HR regarding their specific circumstances. For some employees, FMLA-Public Health Emergency leave also may be available. (Please visit https://psu.app.box.com/s/6i0inw2xdp8viazb75tz68hz4gwgnp1c for more information.)

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Once classes transition to remote delivery, each unit leader will determine who needs to be on site based on work responsibilities and unit needs at the time. Employees should work with their direct supervisor to determine if they should continue to report to campus or if they will be able to work remotely.

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There are no changes to the University holiday schedule. The University will continue to observe the staff holidays set in Penn State policy and respective collective bargaining agreements.

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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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Penn State Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), in coordination with University Health Services and Human Resources, has developed new protocols related to COVID-19 to help protect the health of employees who are working on campus.

These processes include instructions for supervisors who are responding to reported COVID-19 cases, the University’s cloth mask requirement, cleaning procedures, and guidance for employees working on campus. In addition, they include direction for employees to contact Penn State Absence Management at absence@psu.edu or 814-865-1782 if they are self-quarantining, exposed to or develop symptoms of the virus.

Additional information is available on Penn State News and at https://ehs.psu.edu/covid19.

For additional health and safety FAQs for employees working on campus, visit https://ehs.psu.edu/sites/ehs/files/employee_working_on_campus_questions.pdf. 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.

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See HRG11 Family and Medical Leave.

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Additional details are available at https://hr.psu.edu/covid-19-coronavirus.

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Penn State Information Technology has created a website to answer your questions and provide links to resources that faculty and staff may need while working remotely.

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We are currently interviewing candidates for faculty positions. How should we handle the upcoming interviews? (UPDATED 7/3)

If an exception to conduct a search is granted, academic units should use Zoom or other virtual tools for interviews whenever possible to prioritize the health of candidates and interview participants and their families. On-campus interviews with international candidates should be held virtually with campus visits postponed until Penn State permits international travel. Interviews should be as consistent as possible for each candidate and ensure that evaluation of all applicants is based on the extent to which applicants meet the criteria for the position.

Candidates for faculty positions must follow Penn State’s travel guidance. Employees arranging and/or attending in-person meetings or events related to a candidate’s on-campus visit must comply with meeting and event guidance. Non-employees who participate in meetings or events associated with a campus visit must be approved to attend by the sponsoring unit’s executive per the guidance pertaining to visitors.

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Existing Visiting Scholars

Those Visiting Scholars whose applications have been approved and have a visa stamp may come to Penn State as planned. Those who have not yet obtained a visa stamp are asked to reschedule their arrival until July 1, 2021. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

New Applications

Based on the U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory and suspension or limitation of visa services in many countries, Penn State will begin processing new domestic and international Visiting Scholar applications on March 1, 2021 for arrival on or after July 1, 2021. Applications currently in the system will not be approved until March and prospective Visiting Scholars should be contacted and their arrival rescheduled until on or after July 1, 2021. Requests for exceptions may be made to vpfa@psu.edu by the college or campus executive. If circumstances change due to COVID, the March 1 date may be revisited.

Extensions for Current Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholar extension requests will continue to be reviewed. If a Visiting Scholar is scheduled to depart but wants to stay at Penn State due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extension request must be submitted in DocFinity. Please work with the staff in the academic unit who submit Visiting Scholar requests. Questions from units regarding extensions and required documentation should be directed the dean or chancellor designee in each unit. If assistance is needed from the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, contact Mindy Kowalski at msk22@psu.edu.

Paid J-1 Scholars

DISSA will work with new post-doc foreign nationals to determine a realistic start date, taking into consideration: U.S. embassy services limitations, current travel restrictions, and the needs of the department. Unit executives should send exception requests to vpfa@psu.edu and include a description of why the appointment is essential. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

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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 are developing protocols to limit public access to campus buildings. Units are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with visitors remotely whenever possible. Students should not have visitors, and information for prospective students about virtual campus visits is available here.

Employees wishing to have a non-employee visit campus for any period of time must make a request to their unit executive. 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.

Visitors must comply with all COVID health and safety guidelines during travel and while on campus.

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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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Is there a phone number I can call if I have questions about COVID-related topics at Penn State?

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 20, 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 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 site, virusinfo.psu.edu, to see if their questions are answered there. The site’s regularly updated FAQs include the latest updates, as well as resources and comprehensive information specifically for Penn State students and families, faculty and staff, and members of campus communities. The University’s “Back to State” webpage also includes a variety of information for students and families and employees.

For direct support, in lieu of calling the COVID-19 Response Center:

— Penn State students with health concerns should call the 24/7 Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463. At University Park, students can make appointments with University Health Services by using myUHS or calling the appointment line at 814-863-0774. Commonwealth Campus students should contact their campus’ health care services. Information about COVID-19 testing options for students at University Park is available here.

— Penn State employees with human resources-related questions can call Human Resources Shared Services directly at 814-865-1473. That office’s hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Calls received outside those hours will be directed to an online inquiry system (WorkLion) that is monitored.

— Individuals with questions about the University’s technical systems or operations related to COVID-19 can call Penn State Technical Support directly at 814-865-4357 (HELP) at any time.

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This is understandable and there are resources available for both students and employees who are struggling and who need support with the transition back to campus. Students can contact their academic advisers for guidance. The Red Folder initiative is a guide to help faculty, staff and others who interact with students to recognize, respond effectively to, and refer distressed students at Penn State. Students at University Park can call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 814-863-0395 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students at Commonwealth Campuses can contact the CAPS office at their campus location. When CAPS is closed, both the Penn State Crisis Line (877-229-6400) and the Crisis Text Line (text “LIONS” to 741741) are still available 24/7 for students at all campuses who are in crisis or need support. Faculty and staff who are in distress are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program, a free, confidential resource to be used as a first line of defense for personal or work-related concerns for yourself or your family.

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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 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://keepteaching.psu.edu/.

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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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Colleges, institutes and Commonwealth Campuses have developed plans that allow for gradually increasing on-campus research activities. What happens when someone does not follow the plans?

Deans, chancellors and institute directors are responsible for faculty, staff and student compliance with each of their unit’s plans. If an individual is aware of any noncompliance, they should report it to the appropriate dean, chancellor or institute director. Alternatively, they can report the situation to their facility coordinator, who will then communicate with the appropriate unit leader. Persistent noncompliance, when confirmed, may result in removal of the individual’s approval for conducting research on campus or at other facilities.

Additional information regarding return-to-research plans can be found at https://www.research.psu.edu/COVID_return_research.

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On-campus research activities have resumed using a phased approach. As part of the return to on-campus research, unit-specific processes and protocols have been developed to prioritize the health and well-being of researchers, faculty, staff, students and the community. The return to on-campus research will be gradual, and all researchers who are able should continue to work remotely. The specifics of returning to on-campus research will look different for each college, campus, institute or unit. Investigators with questions regarding the specifics of returning to on-campus research activity should contact their dean, chancellor or institute director. Guidance for return-to-research plans are updated regularly and can be found at https://www.research.psu.edu/COVID_return_research.

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If a student or employee with COVID-19 symptoms is selected for surveillance testing, do they still need to complete the surveillance testing process?

Symptomatic individuals selected for surveillance testing should indicate their symptoms via the questionnaire on the COVID-19 surveillance registration website. Students and employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be excluded from random asymptomatic surveillance testing.

Due to the fact that surveillance test samples are analyzed in pools, or groups, for efficiency, and in the interest of personal and community health, symptomatic students should instead stay home and schedule an appointment with University Health Services or their campus health center for individual evaluation and testing. Employees with COVID-19 symptoms should stay home, call their primary care provider, and contact Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492 or psuoccmed@psu.edu.

As part of Penn State’s multi-layered COVID-19 testing program, the University is conducting randomized daily testing of a least 1% of the campus population to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Those excluded from testing due to COVID-19 symptoms may be added back into the testing pool and selected again at a later date.

Those with questions about the surveillance testing process can email HealthyState@psu.edu for assistance. For answers to frequently asked questions about the University’s surveillance testing program, visit “Surveillance testing for students” or “Surveillance testing for employees” on virusinfo.psu.edu.

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At University Park, University Health Services provides appointment-based, “on-demand” testing for students who have COVID-19-related symptoms. If a student is symptomatic, they should seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

For University Park students who are asymptomatic but self-identify as having COVID-19 exposure or want to be tested for other reasons, a voluntary walk-up testing site is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena. By allowing students to be tested who feel that they may have been exposed rather than solely those who have been identified by the contact tracing process, these expanded testing efforts will supplement and hasten the University’s existing contact tracing efforts and the deployment of quarantine and isolation.

Both students and employees may be selected by the University for random screening as part of the University’s ongoing surveillance testing program. Students and employees will be provided with instructions via email about where to go for this testing when they are selected.

More information on COVID-19 testing options at University Park is available from Penn State Student Affairs.

For Commonwealth Campus students and employees, random screening is being conducted by Vault Health. Individuals selected for random screening will receive an email that includes specific directions on next steps. It is important that selected individuals register for their test within 48 hours of receiving the email and then complete their test within 48 hours of having the test kit in hand. On-demand testing for Commonwealth Campus students is being conducted by Quest. Symptomatic students should contact their campus health center or testing contact for directions on how to obtain a test kit.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State is conducting a randomized COVID-19 surveillance testing program to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 across all campuses. The University will perform daily testing of at least 1% of the student, faculty and staff population across Penn State’s campuses. 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 surveillance 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.

For additional information about surveillance testing, read this story in Penn State News. Three new COVID-19 surveillance testing sites will be open for Penn State employees and students on the University Park campus starting Oct. 7. These indoor locations replace previous University Park campus testing locations and expand services to include employee-only hours.

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Random and risk-stratified samples of employees will be selected and tested for COVID-19 as part of our multi-pronged testing program. This will allow us to identify employees who may have the virus but are not displaying symptoms (asymptomatic). Asymptomatic cases require isolation and assessment of the level of any potential spread of the virus in our employee population. By testing as many people as possible, we hope to minimize the risk of infection on our Penn State campuses and in our communities.

Surveillance testing of approximately 1% of our campus population began on Aug. 24 and will be conducted each day throughout the semester.

If an employee is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link in the email will expire the following day. Upon registering, employees will have the option of scheduling their test within the next two days. Participation in the surveillance testing program is required (except for pre-determined exceptions). There will be no cost for this program.

For answers to additional employee questions about the University’s random surveillance testing program, visit “Surveillance testing for employees.”

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Employees are selected to participate in surveillance testing based on the “Return to Work on Campus” database. If you are working remotely and wish to be removed from surveillance testing, you should speak with your supervisor or academic leadership and ask to be removed from the “Return to Work on Campus” database.

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If an employee is selected, they will be notified via an email from HealthyState@psu.edu. The registration link within the email will expire the following day. Upon registering, individuals will have the option of scheduling their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

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Testing locations vary. When you register for your surveillance test, you will be provided with a list of locations where you can be tested.

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The test will be performed using saliva sampling. After you check in for your appointment, a staff member will guide you through the self-collection process.

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Wait time is estimated to be less than 15 minutes throughout the day.

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Please bring your Penn State ID card.

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Be well-hydrated on the day of your test. However, do not eat, drink, smoke, chew gum, brush your teeth, etc. in the 30 minutes prior to your test.

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To reschedule your appointment, log back into the registration system and reschedule (covid.apps.psu.edu). You can only reschedule during your eligibility window.

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There is no cost to the employee. The test is completely free and will not be charged to your insurance.

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At the time of testing, you will register with Vault Health using your psu.edu email address. You will receive an email from hello@updates.vaulthealth.com with your results at your psu.edu email address within 48-72 hours of taking your test.

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Test results will be emailed to your Penn State email account (psu.edu).

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Yes. A COVID-19 test can only tell us your health status at a single point in time. Thus, testing is required regardless of previous testing history.

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If you have a previous positive test, please log into the registration system (covid.apps.psu.edu). Your specific circumstances will be assessed, and you will be informed whether you need to continue with testing.

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The data is stored in HIPAA-compliant software and databases. Any questions related to privacy should be directed to the Office of Information Security.

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Walk-up COVID-19 testing for employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database is available on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena starting Oct. 9. The testing center is open for employees only from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday, or employees may walk up at any time during the center’s normal operating hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. Employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will not be tested at the walk-up testing site. Any employee who feels sick with COVID-19-like symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider to arrange for a symptomatic test.

Penn State Commonwealth Campuses also are offering voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for on-campus employees during the month of October through Vault Health. More information about the testing process for Commonwealth Campus employees is available in this Penn State News article.

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Regardless of your symptom profile, a positive test will result in isolation. The University’s office of Occupational Medicine will contact you and discuss guidelines for isolation and will provide you with the date you can return to work.

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Most employees are required to participate in surveillance testing. The surveillance invitation will specify whether an employee has been selected for mandatory or voluntary testing.

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No. If you test positive, Occupational Medicine will provide guidance and advise you and your family to seek medical care from your personal health care provider.

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After being tested by the surveillance program, you will be returned to the testing pool seven days later. This is because someone’s COVID status can change at any time. We are committed to providing ongoing testing for the campus community that provides an accurate estimate of the disease prevalence.

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