Frequently Asked Questions

Students and families

To help prevent virus transmission outside of Penn State’s campus communities as students return home, the University is offering free voluntary COVID-19 testing for students prior to leaving campus. Penn State is partnering with Vault Health for the departure testing, which will be conducted either in person at predetermined testing sites on certain campuses or via self-administered kits.

More information is available in this Penn State News story.

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The University’s testing protocols for students and employees, which include walk-up testing and random surveillance testing, will continue through Nov. 20. Due to the holiday, there will be no surveillance or walk-up testing from Nov. 21-29. However, the University will be prepared to support students with health services for those who remain on campuses over the Thanksgiving week. More specifics for each campus will follow.

All random surveillance testing will resume on campuses on Nov. 30 and continue through the remainder of the fall semester for employees working on site and students who may continue to live on or near Penn State campuses.

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Yes. Penn State’s quarantine and isolation space at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses will continue to be available after Nov. 20 for students who need to quarantine or isolate over the Thanksgiving break or after courses resume remotely on Nov. 30.

Students who are identified as needing to isolate or quarantine on or before Nov. 20 are expected to complete their isolation or quarantine period on campus or in another suitable single occupancy space off campus before they leave for Thanksgiving break and remote learning.

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Students should coordinate with their roommate to leave at different times. This will help to promote social distancing while also reducing campus traffic congestion typically associated with semester departures. Details about move out will be sent directly to students’ emails.

To minimize foot traffic on campus and help mitigate virus transmission both within campus communities and in students’ home communities, only one individual should travel to pick up a student and assist with move out. When possible, that individual should stay outside or remain in their vehicle until the student arrives with their belongings. Those picking up students will be required to follow Penn State protocols and local ordinances for masking and social distancing.

Students living at University Park must leave their on-campus residence by 4 p.m. on Nov. 22. Students living in on-campus housing at the Commonwealth Campuses must depart by 4 p.m. on Nov. 21. As in past years, the University will work with students who may need to remain in on-campus housing through Thanksgiving break and beyond.

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As students prepare to leave for Thanksgiving break, they are advised to take any belongings they will need for the remainder of the year until the start of the spring semester, including books, notes, instruments, sports gear, computers, mobile devices, charging/power cords, appropriate weather/season apparel and amount of clothing, medications, plants and other key personal items. Students will not be permitted to return to their residence halls after the conclusion of the in-person learning period until the start of the spring semester. Students who are not planning on returning to campus for the spring semester should plan to completely remove all personal belongings.

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As in past years, the University will work with students who, for a variety of reasons, may need to remain in on-campus housing through Thanksgiving break and beyond. More specifics will be communicated to on-campus students about how to request housing during the Thanksgiving break, remote learning period, and/or winter break. Students who are approved to stay on campus after the Nov. 20 closure will have room and board charges added to their student account.

Students at any campus who are in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses.

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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 students at University Park who wish to be tested.

For students at University Park who are asymptomatic of COVID-19 but want to be tested because of possible virus exposure or other reasons, walk-up testing is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena as of Oct. 9. Registration is not required, but students will need to bring their Penn State ID and smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free. This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. 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.

University Park students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not visit the walk-up site and instead seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is concerned about possible virus exposure, they should contact their on-campus health center or the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463. There is currently no walk-up testing at any of the Commonwealth Campuses on a regular basis, but the University continues to monitor campus and community conditions and may add this testing process at a future date.

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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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The fall commencement ceremony will be held virtually at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News article.

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With the health and safety of participants and the community in mind, the fall 2020 commencement ceremony will be held virtually at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19 and can be viewed at https://fall2020.commencement.psu.edu.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News article.

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In an ongoing effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the fall semester concludes with all classes moving to a remote format beginning Nov. 30, following the Thanksgiving break. With the shift to remote learning at the end of the semester, it is simply not prudent to bring thousands of guests back to campus to gather in one location to celebrate commencement.

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The virtual ceremony on Dec. 19 is a way, during this time of social distancing, to more immediately recognize the completion of our students’ academic experience and to mark this significant milestone in their lives. We view the virtual commencement as the first step in recognizing the Class of 2020. A virtual commencement allows those graduates who are unable to travel back to campus due to other circumstances, (e.g. employment, cost, family obligations) to take part and be recognized by our community.

The Class of 2020 deserves a just reward for the hard-earned academic accomplishments of its members. When social restrictions are lifted and medical experts determine we can move forward with an in-person event, Penn State will set a date for those who are interested and have the ability to come back together in celebration.

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The virtual ceremony provides an opportunity for all Penn State students — undergraduate and graduate, at all campus locations — who have filed an intent to graduate in the fall of 2020, the opportunity to gather virtually as a University community for a timely celebration of their academic achievements.

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The virtual ceremony will include elements of a traditional ceremony, including leadership remarks, conferral of degrees, and induction into the Penn State Alumni Association. Following the virtual ceremony, graduates, friends and families may explore additional digital content created for each college and Commonwealth Campus. The content on these pages is tailored more specifically to those communities of learning, including individual student recognition via shareable digital slides.

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This recognition, in the form of digital slides, will include the student’s name, degree and major, with voice talent reading the student’s name aloud.

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No, providing information for the digital slide and viewing the virtual ceremony does not preclude a student from participating in a later, in-person celebration on campus to recognize the Class of 2020.

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Included within the email to be sent to students on Oct. 19 will be instructions for those who do not wish to have a slide included.

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Penn State partners with a vendor to create the digital slides that will include each student’s name, degree, major and a professional voice talent recording of the student’s name. Students will not be responsible for creating their own slide. Graduates will receive an email from graduation@psu.edu via our vendor, MarchingOrder, with more details on the digital slides.

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While we certainly hope members of the Class of 2020 and their families and friends tune in to the virtual ceremony, there is no requirement to do so. Penn State remains committed to inviting the Class of 2020 back to campus for in-person celebrations when public health guidelines permit this to occur.

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Students, families and friends will be viewing the virtual ceremony online from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. It is not required that students wear a cap and gown while they watch the virtual ceremony. As a gift in recognition of achieving this milestone, Penn State will be sending graduates a cap and tassel. More information on this gift will be sent to graduates via email during the week of Oct. 5.

We encourage graduates to post pictures of their in-home celebrations to social media platforms with the hashtag #PSUgrad.

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We will continue to monitor the status of the global pandemic and evolving public health guidelines as we get closer to May 2021 to make the best determination for the schedule and format for the spring 2021 ceremony. Numerous considerations and contingencies need to be accounted for in planning an event that has the potential for up to 80,000 visitors to University Park, as well as thousands of visitors to other campuses over the course of a single weekend, especially given the uncertainties of the continued spread of COVID-19 until then.

Whatever the plans and format are for spring 2021 commencement, rest assured that all plans will be made in the best interests of the health and safety of our communities.

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Random and risk-stratified samples of students will be selected and tested for COVID-19 as part of our multi-pronged testing program. This will allow the University to identify asymptomatic cases (individuals who don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19, but may have the virus), which require isolation. Testing also allows us to assess the levels of any potential spread of the virus in our student population. The test looks for the presence of the coronavirus and helps determine who can spread it. By testing as many people as possible, we hope to minimize the risk of infection on our Penn State campuses and in our communities.

Beginning Aug. 24, surveillance testing of approximately 1% of our campus population has been and will be conducted daily. If a student is selected for surveillance testing, they will be notified via email. Participation in the surveillance testing program is required (except for pre-determined exceptions). There is no cost to the student for this program.

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

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Students are selected to participate in surveillance testing if they live in their campus community, regardless of their learning status. For University Park, students are required to participate if they are currently residing within Centre County. For World Campus students living in Centre County, students are required to participate in surveillance testing.

For Commonwealth Campuses, students are required to participate if they have an on-campus component to their learning schedule or live within close proximity to campus. For World Campus students, students are required to participate in surveillance testing if they have a residential campus course that has an in-person component.

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University Park: If a student is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link will expire the following day. Upon registering, individuals will have the option to schedule their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

Commonwealth Campuses: If a student is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link will expire the after 48 hours. Upon registering, individuals will have the option to schedule their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

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Testing locations and strategies vary by campus.

At University Park, when you register for the surveillance test, you will be provided with a list of locations where you can be tested. Testing sites follow all guidelines with respect to social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and sanitation of spaces.

At Commonwealth Campuses, specific instructions for how to proceed with testing will be included in your surveillance invitation email.

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At University Park, the test will be performed using an anterior nasal swab. This is NOT the deep invasive nasal swab. This test requires the insertion of a swab approximately one inch into each nostril. After you check in for your appointment, a staff member will guide you through the self-collection process.

At Commonwealth Campuses, a saliva-based test is used. Depending on the campus, you will either pick up a test kit or you will request that a kit be mailed to your home. (Detailed instructions will be included in your email invitation.) After you have the kit, you will complete the testing process using a Vault telehealth visit.

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At University Park, wait time is estimated to be less than 15 minutes throughout the day. Please remember to wear a mask and socially distance while waiting in line.

For the Commonwealth Campuses that are distributing tests, the wait time is minor — students simply schedule a time to pick up their test and take it home with them.

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Please bring your Penn State ID card, along with your mask.

For Commonwealth Campuses that are distributing Vault test kits, students should also bring their smartphone or other device to show their scheduled appointment time to the health care provider.

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To reschedule your appointment, log back into the system through your registration email and reschedule. You can only reschedule during your eligibility window.

For Commonwealth Campuses, students are able to reschedule their testing window one time, within 48 hours of receiving the email indicating they’ve been selected for surveillance testing.

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

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University Park: As part of this program, nasal swab samples are analyzed in pools, or groups. This means that your sample will be combined with samples of other students. The combined samples, or pool of samples, are tested. Negative results from this test will not be reported to you individually. If your sample is part of a pool that returns in an indeterminate result, all people in the pool will be contacted and asked to complete an individual level follow-up test and to isolate as a precautionary measure. If further action is required of you, you will be contacted via telephone or email within 24-48 hours of your test.


Commonwealth Campuses: Test results will be emailed to you within approximately 48 hours AFTER your test arrives at Vault Health.

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University Park: If further action is required of you, you will be contacted via phone and/or email within 24-48 hours. If your sample is part of a pool that returns in an indeterminate result, all persons in the pool will be contacted and asked to complete an individual level follow-up test and to isolate as a precautionary measure. Otherwise, you will not receive a test result.

Commonwealth Campuses: You will receive your results via your Penn State psu.edu email account.

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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 negative results.

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If you have a previous positive test, please log in to 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.

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Due to the random and risk-stratified approach to the testing, students cannot volunteer to participate in the surveillance/random testing program. However, students have other options for testing.

University Park: 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. At University Park, if a student is asymptomatic (does not have symptoms), but wants testing because of known exposure or other reasons, they may seek testing at Penn State’s walk-up site, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena.

Commonwealth Campuses: If a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is concerned about possible virus exposure, they should contact their on-campus health center or the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463. There is currently no walk-up testing at any of the Commonwealth Campuses on a regular basis, but the University continues to monitor campus and community conditions and may add this testing process at a future date.

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Regardless of your symptom profile, a positive test will result in isolation. University Health Services/Student Contact Tracing will contact you by phone or email and discuss guidelines for isolation and will provide you with the date you can return to normal activity. If you are living on campus, you will be moved to on-campus isolation space.

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

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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions, up to and including separation from the University. It is important to note that any large gathering in violation of local ordinances will be considered a serious violation and will likely result in a suspension.

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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including loss of housing or separation from the University. It is important to note that any gathering exceeding residence hall restrictions (typically only two guests allowed per room) will be considered to be a serious violation and will likely result in a loss of housing, at minimum. Students should also be aware that guests from other residence halls are not permitted, and they may not visit other residence halls. In addition, as stated previously, visitors from other areas, universities, regions, etc. also are not permitted in the residence halls. This includes parents and family members. Violations of these expectations will be considered a serious violation.

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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 identified as a close contact through contact tracing, you must complete the entire quarantine period regardless of your test result. Since symptoms typically develop between 2 to 14 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19, close contacts are required to complete the 14-day quarantine period from their last contact with the positive individual. Penn State Contract Tracing or Student Support Services will tell you what your release date is pending your last contact with the COVID-19 positive person.

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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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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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It is vital that students socialize closely only with roommates, if possible. Students should avoid having friends over and avoid close socialization with people outside of their immediate household. When students do go out, they should wear a mask and maintain social distance. Students are encouraged to engage in outdoors activities, such as walking, hiking or biking, while following distancing and masking recommendations. These steps, though difficult, can slow the spread of the virus and make a real difference.

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University Health Services continues to take enhanced precautions and has implemented additional guidelines for the fall semester to help protect the health and safety of the Penn State campus community.

Precautions

UHS has increased cleaning and safety measures inside the Student Health Center and is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This includes:

— Disinfecting surfaces frequently.

— Maintaining physical distance.

— Wearing gloves and masks.

— Disinfecting all rooms, regardless if the visit was COVID-19 related or not.

— Implementing additional cleaning in negative pressure rooms.

— Using hand sanitizer or washing hands prior to and after seeing each patient.

— Assessing employee temperatures before they enter the Student Health Center.

UHS will only allow those with a scheduled in-person appointment inside the Student Health Center. Anyone who enters the Student Health Center will have their temperature taken, symptoms assessed, and must wear a mask. Plexiglass barriers also have been installed for added protection.

All patients will enter the Student Health Center through the front door, except those with COVID-19 concerns. Students who are being seen for COVID-19 will come through a different door and have a designated elevator to use, which will be communicated when the appointment is scheduled.

In addition, UHS has added a negative pressure suite, which includes nine additional negative pressure rooms, for 11 negative pressure rooms in total. These are single-occupancy patient-care rooms that use negative air pressure to prevent airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 from escaping the room and infecting others. This suite will be dedicated to seeing patients in-house that require a higher level of care for COVID-19.

Scheduling

Students who wish to schedule a medical appointment with UHS, including those with COVID-19 concerns, should call 814-863-0774 or visit myUHS online. Any patients who access care will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms. Students can still be seen for routine appointments such as women’s and men’s health, LGBTQ health, physical therapy and more. Students will be triaged based on their concerns, symptoms and visit type, and may be seen via telemedicine or asked to come to the Student Health Center. COVID-19 concerns may be addressed via telemedicine, unless in-person care is needed. Students should check with their insurance carrier in advance to determine if telemedicine visits are covered under their insurance plan.

Students who need to have lab tests completed, either ordered by a UHS clinician or an outside clinician, can schedule a lab appointment through myUHS.

Any nonclinical appointments that need to be scheduled with Student Health Insurance, Health Information Management, or Finance and Billing can be done by calling the specific department. Soon, students will be able to schedule an appointment through myUHS for all departments. These nonmedical appointments will be accomplished through Zoom or by phone.

For additional information about available UHS services and enhanced health precautions, read this Penn State News story.

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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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The University has approximately 45 designated Remote Learning Rooms at University Park for students to use to view their remote classes individually or together in small groups, while social distancing and wearing masks, this fall. These spaces are smaller general purpose classrooms that have not been scheduled for classes because social distancing (due to COVID-19) did not permit for the necessary occupancy. So these rooms are free for this use. In addition to regular student spaces on campus that have had seating adjusted for social distancing, these rooms are open for use during normal building hours and have clear signage indicating that they are intended for access for remote classes. Students will need to bring their own devices. Room locations and capacity are available by selecting the “Remote Learning Rooms” option on the campus map a map.psu.edu.

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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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The University expects students to self-monitor their health, including for example by taking their temperature before going to class or campus. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it is only one of the potential symptoms individuals may have. Individuals with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and reach out to their health care provider.

The University has launched a COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app as another resource in which all members of the University community are strongly encouraged to check symptoms they may be having and receive instructions for how to proceed. The app also will contain updated information about CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health resources and helpful information, such as dining arrangements.

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Any student who feels sick or who has symptoms, or has been exposed to COVID-19, should stay home and seek the advice of a medical professional as appropriate. Students who test positive for the virus will need to isolate for at least 10 days since symptom onset and must have an improvement in symptoms and be fever free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication before returning to class. Students who test positive ​outside of a University testing process should notify Contact Tracing and Student Support Services by completing this form.

As part of the University’s contact tracing process, individuals who test positive will be interviewed to identify people with whom they had close contact (less than six feet of distance for 10 minutes or longer within two to four days before the onset of symptoms). These close contacts will be alerted, asked to quarantine for 14 days, and asked to be tested immediately.

Students who must isolate will receive detailed instructions, and they will receive check-ins regarding their health. The University will work closely with these students to see that they continue to make academic progress, and to assist with any other needs that may arise.

Additional information on the isolation and quarantine process can be found in this FAQ.

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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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Yes. All students should 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. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others and monitor their health.

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. If you test positive at a location away from campus, including in a different state, you should immediately contact University Health Services.

For more information about self-quarantine and other pre-arrival requirements for students, read this story in Penn State News.

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In preparation for the semester, students were required to read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH to acknowledge their responsibility and to agree to follow the rules outlined in the compact, as well as other directives from the University, to protect campus and local communities from the risks posed by COVID-19.

The agreement covers a variety of critical topics and health and safety expectations and requirements, including agreeing to participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing throughout the semester, isolate or quarantine if needed, wear face masks and social distance on campus, adhere to travel policies, get a flu vaccination when available, and more. The compact also covers the potential consequences for failing to abide by the compact in ways that risk others’ health and safety, such as through the student conduct process. Students who are not able to sustain these commitments throughout the semester may forfeit their ability to continue with on-campus activities, classes and living.

For more information about the compact, additional FAQs are available on the Student Affairs website.

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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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Although in-person dining is available, it is limited during the fall semester, with tables physically distanced and chairs removed in order to promote a safer eating environment for diners and workers in accordance with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines. Penn State also is offering additional seating outdoors at the University Park campus and other campuses while the weather allows.

Masking and social distancing guidelines must be observed, along with posted occupancy restrictions. Eating is only permitted in posted, designated areas and in a student’s residence hall room.

Residential Dining has put in place enhanced protocols including — but not limited to — the use of masks by all guests and staff; increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms using an EPA-approved disinfectant; additional hand sanitizer stations; installation of Plexiglas in key areas; elimination of self-service options (such as beverages, condiments, etc.); and self-swipe card payments. All items will be served in disposable containers with pre-packaged silverware, condiments and beverages.

Students actually have more choices and more service styles available than have been offered in previous years. This includes a new mobile ordering and pickup option, and Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations.

Additional information on Residential Dining’s plans for fall can be found here.

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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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Because of the economic hardships facing Pennsylvania and the nation, Penn State has frozen tuition rates for all students, including in-state and out-of-state students, University-wide for the 2020-21 academic year. This marks the third consecutive year that Penn State has held tuition rates flat for Pennsylvania resident students. You can learn more in this Penn State News article.

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Penn State computer labs have reopened for the fall 2020 semester. Social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures will take place in accordance with CDC recommendations. It may be necessary to reduce computer availability and adjust hours of operation to accommodate social distancing and the necessary cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The University will monitor and evaluate cleaning protocols for these areas and adjust as needed.

Students and faculty may also access University computer lab software remotely via WebLabs. Students with unmet technology needs should contact Penn State IT at 814-865-HELP (4357) or ITservicedesk@psu.edu for individual arrangements.

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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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Yes, room and board charges will be adjusted for the time period in late November and early December when students will be completing the fall semester remotely. More information is available in this Penn State News article.

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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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Because of the economic hardships facing Pennsylvania and the nation, Penn State has frozen in-state and out-of-state tuition rates University-wide for the 2020-21 academic year, marking the third consecutive year that Penn State has held tuition rates flat for Pennsylvania resident students.

For years, Penn State has offered many educational options for students at campuses across the commonwealth within a varied cost structure. Consistent with past course offerings and established tuition rates, and with a focus on the health and safety of our students and their families, the University is leveraging this flexibility to offer additional cost alternatives for the fall 2020 semester based on individual needs. For fall 2020, there are options with varied tuition rates, so that students can continue to make progress toward their degrees:

• Students who come to University Park or any one of our 20 Commonwealth Campuses this fall will have the option to choose from a variety of flexible instructional modes – from in-person course delivery to hybrid and remote learning options. In addition, there will be in-person engagement and co-curricular experiences – with appropriate social distancing and other precautions in place – including Student Affairs services, tutoring, and clubs and organizations. Tuition will be charged at the campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state rate.

• Temporary change of campus location: Students will have access to all of the in-person and remote courses and co-curricular programming offered at their temporary campus that any student may select for any reason for the fall 2020 semester. As such, tuition will be charged at the temporary campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state.

• Temporary change of campus to Penn State World Campus: World Campus offers a portfolio of asynchronous online courses, which feature engagement with peers and faculty built into the course design. Please note, however, that World Campus does not offer the full range of courses available either at University Park or the Commonwealth Campuses, and there is limited capacity in World Campus. Tuition will be charged at the World Campus rate.

Penn State is focused on supporting students and helping them meet educational outcomes regardless of the method of delivery. It is essential that students consult their academic adviser to determine the best option to accommodate their individual needs; shifts in their mode of education could delay their progress toward graduation or mean changes in financial aid, awards, and other differences.

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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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You may contact graduation@psu.edu.

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After all degree requirements are met, your diploma will be mailed to the diploma address (if applicable) or permanent address set in LionPATH. Additional diploma questions may be sent to registrar@psu.edu.

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There will be in-person commencement celebrations, as this is as much a priority for us as we know it is for our students. The date, however, has not yet been determined. The ongoing pandemic is a fluid situation, and we need to continue to monitor public health guidelines. Once a date is set, that will be communicated via email, Penn State News, and Penn State’s social media channels.

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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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Flexible options are available to students who are unable to return to any campus so they can continue to make progress toward their degrees. Additional information can be found at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/learning-at-home/. You can also learn about Penn State’s flexible instructional modes at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/flexible-instructional-modes/.

If you are unable to come to a Penn State campus this fall, you can still be connected with the Penn State community and provided with opportunities to stay engaged and motivated. Resources for beginning or continuing your education are available through Penn State Start at Home and Continue at Home programming.

We are committed to providing you with the breadth of support to make this a productive and engaging fall; a world-class education regardless of the method of instruction; an experience that will help you build relationships with a peer group of students who are going through this situation with you.

And once you can join us on campus, you will continue these relationships in person.

For our international students, we are excited to welcome scholars from across the globe into our community, even if current circumstances prevent residential study. International students who are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19 will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the U.S. International students can visit global.psu.edu or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.

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Throughout the pandemic, Penn State has been working with local community leaders and stakeholders, both in the State College area and in neighboring communities across the commonwealth, to partner on strategies to limit the local impacts of COVID-19 through collaborative efforts informed by health and science. To allow in-residence instruction and activities to continue and to uphold the health and safety of campus and local communities, students will be urged to take personal responsibility and follow health guidelines, including wearing masks, adhering to physical distancing practices, washing hands, and covering coughs and sneezes.

In addition to providing education and support directly to students, fraternities and other student organizations, Penn State is coordinating with local government officials, landlords and local employers to share resources and to encourage students to follow expectations for off-campus behavior. In addition, a new University policy was developed due to these new circumstances, where we must rely on everyone to fulfill their social obligation to keep the community as healthy as possible. Based on the governor’s guidelines advising against large gatherings, and out of respect for the risks to the broader University community, large gatherings are discouraged. Indoor gatherings cannot exceed 25 individuals, and must adhere to masking and social distancing requirements.

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 will provide resources and support to international students who can’t be on campus to help them select courses and develop schedules that will enable them to move forward with their academic progress and advance toward a degree. As a member of the Penn State family, a student joins a long tradition of academic excellence with a university committed to providing unrivaled opportunities. It is through the dedication of exceptional students, faculty, and staff that makes Penn State a truly extraordinary place to study. Our faculty – who are the same in the classroom as those that would teach you remotely – have innovative solutions to provide exceptional learning experiences for our students. You will meet faculty, you will make friends, and you will set yourself on a path toward success this fall and when you are back on campus. We are ready for you now to help you prepare for your future. Additional options are being developed and considered and will be announced over the coming weeks.

For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions for international students, please visit https://global.psu.edu/covidintlfaq#.

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Co-curricular learning is an important component of students’ college experiences. Student organizations are expected to adhere to all health and safety requirements established by the University, including social distancing and meeting virtually. While large gatherings will be prohibited upon return, restrictions may be loosened depending on results of early stage mitigation efforts.

Students are encouraged to check online for information about changes regarding specific activities and events.

Fall Career Days 2020 will take place virtually

Penn State THON, scheduled for Feb. 19-21, 2021, will take place virtually

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

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

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

Seating will be substantially reduced in common areas and lounges to accommodate physical distancing; all lounge space will be closed initially – all in accordance with the governor’s guidance. Over time, relaxation of that status will depend on the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Elevator usage may be discontinued initially, except for special circumstances; at a minimum, occupancy in elevators will be more restricted than usual. One-way traffic for each stairwell, up or down, will be communicated and expected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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The University has approximately 45 designated Remote Learning Rooms at University Park for students to use to view their remote classes individually or together in small groups, while social distancing and wearing masks, this fall. These spaces are smaller general purpose classrooms that have not been scheduled for classes because social distancing (due to COVID-19) did not permit for the necessary occupancy. So these rooms are free for this use. In addition to regular student spaces on campus that have had seating adjusted for social distancing, these rooms are open for use during normal building hours and have clear signage indicating that they are intended for access for remote classes. Students will need to bring their own devices. Room locations and capacity are available by selecting the “Remote Learning Rooms” option on the campus map a map.psu.edu.

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The University expects students to self-monitor their health, including for example by taking their temperature before going to class or campus. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it is only one of the potential symptoms individuals may have. Individuals with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and reach out to their health care provider.

The University has launched a COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app as another resource in which all members of the University community are strongly encouraged to check symptoms they may be having and receive instructions for how to proceed. The app also will contain updated information about CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health resources and helpful information, such as dining arrangements.

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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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Penn State computer labs have reopened for the fall 2020 semester. Social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures will take place in accordance with CDC recommendations. It may be necessary to reduce computer availability and adjust hours of operation to accommodate social distancing and the necessary cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The University will monitor and evaluate cleaning protocols for these areas and adjust as needed.

Students and faculty may also access University computer lab software remotely via WebLabs. Students with unmet technology needs should contact Penn State IT at 814-865-HELP (4357) or ITservicedesk@psu.edu for individual arrangements.

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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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Because of the economic hardships facing Pennsylvania and the nation, Penn State has frozen in-state and out-of-state tuition rates University-wide for the 2020-21 academic year, marking the third consecutive year that Penn State has held tuition rates flat for Pennsylvania resident students.

For years, Penn State has offered many educational options for students at campuses across the commonwealth within a varied cost structure. Consistent with past course offerings and established tuition rates, and with a focus on the health and safety of our students and their families, the University is leveraging this flexibility to offer additional cost alternatives for the fall 2020 semester based on individual needs. For fall 2020, there are options with varied tuition rates, so that students can continue to make progress toward their degrees:

• Students who come to University Park or any one of our 20 Commonwealth Campuses this fall will have the option to choose from a variety of flexible instructional modes – from in-person course delivery to hybrid and remote learning options. In addition, there will be in-person engagement and co-curricular experiences – with appropriate social distancing and other precautions in place – including Student Affairs services, tutoring, and clubs and organizations. Tuition will be charged at the campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state rate.

• Temporary change of campus location: Students will have access to all of the in-person and remote courses and co-curricular programming offered at their temporary campus that any student may select for any reason for the fall 2020 semester. As such, tuition will be charged at the temporary campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state.

• Temporary change of campus to Penn State World Campus: World Campus offers a portfolio of asynchronous online courses, which feature engagement with peers and faculty built into the course design. Please note, however, that World Campus does not offer the full range of courses available either at University Park or the Commonwealth Campuses, and there is limited capacity in World Campus. Tuition will be charged at the World Campus rate.

Penn State is focused on supporting students and helping them meet educational outcomes regardless of the method of delivery. It is essential that students consult their academic adviser to determine the best option to accommodate their individual needs; shifts in their mode of education could delay their progress toward graduation or mean changes in financial aid, awards, and other differences.

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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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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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Flexible options are available to students who are unable to return to any campus so they can continue to make progress toward their degrees. Additional information can be found at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/learning-at-home/. You can also learn about Penn State’s flexible instructional modes at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/flexible-instructional-modes/.

If you are unable to come to a Penn State campus this fall, you can still be connected with the Penn State community and provided with opportunities to stay engaged and motivated. Resources for beginning or continuing your education are available through Penn State Start at Home and Continue at Home programming.

We are committed to providing you with the breadth of support to make this a productive and engaging fall; a world-class education regardless of the method of instruction; an experience that will help you build relationships with a peer group of students who are going through this situation with you.

And once you can join us on campus, you will continue these relationships in person.

For our international students, we are excited to welcome scholars from across the globe into our community, even if current circumstances prevent residential study. International students who are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19 will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the U.S. International students can visit global.psu.edu or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.

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The University will provide resources and support to international students who can’t be on campus to help them select courses and develop schedules that will enable them to move forward with their academic progress and advance toward a degree. As a member of the Penn State family, a student joins a long tradition of academic excellence with a university committed to providing unrivaled opportunities. It is through the dedication of exceptional students, faculty, and staff that makes Penn State a truly extraordinary place to study. Our faculty – who are the same in the classroom as those that would teach you remotely – have innovative solutions to provide exceptional learning experiences for our students. You will meet faculty, you will make friends, and you will set yourself on a path toward success this fall and when you are back on campus. We are ready for you now to help you prepare for your future. Additional options are being developed and considered and will be announced over the coming weeks.

For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions for international students, please visit https://global.psu.edu/covidintlfaq#.

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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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We are dedicated to supporting students who are immunocompromised or at-risk to identify and develop appropriate accommodations, for both on-campus housing and academic needs. Students in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses. Students in need of academic assistance should reach out to their college or campus advising office.

For students who are unable to return to any campus this fall, there are flexible options so that they can continue to make progress toward their degrees.

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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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The University purchased 500,000 reusable, Penn State-branded cloth face masks to be distributed across all campuses. Cloth face masks will be provided to students as needed at the beginning of the semester and employees will receive face masks prior to returning to work. To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required in all University buildings, including in classrooms and labs, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible. Students and employees also should practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wear face masks within their local communities, in line with local and state requirements.

More information on mask distribution is available in this Penn State News story.

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Visit the University Libraries’ website for full information about hours and protocols. A vast array of remote services and online resources remain available to support student, faculty and staff needs.

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During remote learning delivery periods, experiential education (including credit-bearing internships, clinical assignments, or noncredit experiences that are required for degree completion) must be virtual. This includes any internship experiences offered through Penn State that you may wish or need to take advantage of. In addition, internal Penn State internships must follow Penn State guidelines regarding hiring and funding. This decision reinforces the University’s primary goal to maintain health and safety for all involved and to recognize that different and rapidly changing situations are emerging across the nation and world.

If an internship is required for you to graduate, your college and academic program should communicate an alternative plan to you. Learn more about your options related to experiential education during remote learning delivery.

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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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All Zoom recordings are automatically uploaded to Kaltura, which provides unlimited storage. Your instructor can edit, embed, and share Zoom recordings within Kaltura. Detailed instructions for accessing Zoom recordings in Kaltura are available.

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Yes. Penn State’s WebApps provides remote access to the most-used, specialized software that you would typically access in a Penn State lab. Currently available applications include:

  • Microsoft Office suite (Access, Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Publisher, Word)
  • Dassault Systemes SolidWorks
  • Esri ArcGIS Desktop
  • Esri ArcGIS Pro
  • Mathsoft MATLAB
  • Minitab, Inc. Minitab
  • Minitab, Inc. Minitab Express
  • SAS JMP Pro
  • SAS
  • Wolfram Mathematica

The following applications have limited connections and are available by request only:

  • IBM SPSS Statistics
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Microsoft Project
  • Microsoft Visio

  • To request a connection for applications with limited connections or to to see if your application can be added, submit a request to Device Management.

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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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How will departure from campus residence halls proceed after the conclusion of the in-person portion of the fall semester on Nov. 20?

Students should coordinate with their roommate to leave at different times. This will help to promote social distancing while also reducing campus traffic congestion typically associated with semester departures. Details about move out will be sent directly to students’ emails.

To minimize foot traffic on campus and help mitigate virus transmission both within campus communities and in students’ home communities, only one individual should travel to pick up a student and assist with move out. When possible, that individual should stay outside or remain in their vehicle until the student arrives with their belongings. Those picking up students will be required to follow Penn State protocols and local ordinances for masking and social distancing.

Students living at University Park must leave their on-campus residence by 4 p.m. on Nov. 22. Students living in on-campus housing at the Commonwealth Campuses must depart by 4 p.m. on Nov. 21. As in past years, the University will work with students who may need to remain in on-campus housing through Thanksgiving break and beyond.

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As students prepare to leave for Thanksgiving break, they are advised to take any belongings they will need for the remainder of the year until the start of the spring semester, including books, notes, instruments, sports gear, computers, mobile devices, charging/power cords, appropriate weather/season apparel and amount of clothing, medications, plants and other key personal items. Students will not be permitted to return to their residence halls after the conclusion of the in-person learning period until the start of the spring semester. Students who are not planning on returning to campus for the spring semester should plan to completely remove all personal belongings.

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As in past years, the University will work with students who, for a variety of reasons, may need to remain in on-campus housing through Thanksgiving break and beyond. More specifics will be communicated to on-campus students about how to request housing during the Thanksgiving break, remote learning period, and/or winter break. Students who are approved to stay on campus after the Nov. 20 closure will have room and board charges added to their student account.

Students at any campus who are in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses.

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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including loss of housing or separation from the University. It is important to note that any gathering exceeding residence hall restrictions (typically only two guests allowed per room) will be considered to be a serious violation and will likely result in a loss of housing, at minimum. Students should also be aware that guests from other residence halls are not permitted, and they may not visit other residence halls. In addition, as stated previously, visitors from other areas, universities, regions, etc. also are not permitted in the residence halls. This includes parents and family members. Violations of these expectations will be considered a serious violation.

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Although in-person dining is available, it is limited during the fall semester, with tables physically distanced and chairs removed in order to promote a safer eating environment for diners and workers in accordance with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines. Penn State also is offering additional seating outdoors at the University Park campus and other campuses while the weather allows.

Masking and social distancing guidelines must be observed, along with posted occupancy restrictions. Eating is only permitted in posted, designated areas and in a student’s residence hall room.

Residential Dining has put in place enhanced protocols including — but not limited to — the use of masks by all guests and staff; increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms using an EPA-approved disinfectant; additional hand sanitizer stations; installation of Plexiglas in key areas; elimination of self-service options (such as beverages, condiments, etc.); and self-swipe card payments. All items will be served in disposable containers with pre-packaged silverware, condiments and beverages.

Students actually have more choices and more service styles available than have been offered in previous years. This includes a new mobile ordering and pickup option, and Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations.

Additional information on Residential Dining’s plans for fall can be found here.

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Yes, room and board charges will be adjusted for the time period in late November and early December when students will be completing the fall semester remotely. More information is available in this Penn State News article.

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

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

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

Seating will be substantially reduced in common areas and lounges to accommodate physical distancing; all lounge space will be closed initially – all in accordance with the governor’s guidance. Over time, relaxation of that status will depend on the effectiveness of mitigation efforts. Elevator usage may be discontinued initially, except for special circumstances; at a minimum, occupancy in elevators will be more restricted than usual. One-way traffic for each stairwell, up or down, will be communicated and expected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We are dedicated to supporting students who are immunocompromised or at-risk to identify and develop appropriate accommodations, for both on-campus housing and academic needs. Students in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses. Students in need of academic assistance should reach out to their college or campus advising office.

For students who are unable to return to any campus this fall, there are flexible options so that they can continue to make progress toward their degrees.

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What is the status of study abroad for fall 2020? When will study-abroad programming resume?

Penn State Global Programs has announced the cancellation of all fall 2020 semester-long study abroad programming, a decision based heavily on safety considerations, among other factors.

The current uncertainty about how the global coronavirus pandemic will evolve makes it difficult to predict exactly when study-abroad programming will resume. However, in the long term and at its core, Penn State is a global institution and we are committed to providing study-abroad experiences for our students. We realize the current situation has created an enormous disruption in our study-abroad programs, but we look forward to a time when we will once again have students benefiting from educational experiences across the globe.

The Education Abroad staff, as well as faculty collaborators, continue to assess and plan for study abroad opportunities in the future when these programs can be offered with certainty.

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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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Has Penn State adjusted its undergraduate admissions process in response to the coronavirus?

We are working to help people through this process, as we understand the significant distress our future Penn State students and their families may be experiencing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We have discussions daily on these topics. Students can now apply to Penn State for the summer/fall 2021 academic year. Applications will be processed as usual on a rolling basis beginning in September/October for the summer/fall 2021 academic year.

We encourage applicants to reach out to us to discuss their unique circumstances. Students and/or their school counselors can send an email to admissions@psu.edu or call 1-814-865-5471.

In addition, out of an abundance of caution in protecting all members of the Penn State community, we announced that all activities relating to admitted student programs, prospective student events, and campus visitation are moving to virtual formats. Visit admissions.psu.edu/experience for virtual events and resources so students can experience Penn State right from their home.

For additional information, visit https://admissions.psu.edu/coronavirus/.

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The Graduate School at Penn State is continuously monitoring developments related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, and doing everything possible to support applicants who may be affected. We understand that many testing services have suspended operations, and graduate programs at Penn State have been encouraged to extend their deadlines for applicants who may have been impacted by the suspension of testing services and other restrictions caused by the outbreak. Graduate Enrollment Services is taking this and other extenuating circumstances into consideration as we review applications and work with our admitted students. For applicants who have been admitted and are impacted by the outbreak, we encourage you to contact your graduate program regarding your specific situation.

For additional information and updates, visit http://gradschool.psu.edu/.

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Penn State’s student aid office is processing student aid applications and communicating to prospective students and families on a continual basis. Students and their families can visit studentaid.psu.edu/future-students for current information.

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We are working to assist in any way we can. Our goal is to be available, given our resources located across the commonwealth to support individual students and their needs. Our campuses will exercise as much flexibility as possible for students with unique challenges, and families should reach out to individual campuses directly for any specific requests.

Penn State admissions counselors are available to meet with students one-on-one by phone. Given ongoing uncertainties and variations in high schools’ reopening plans this fall, Penn State’s ability to make high school visits is inhibited. However, Penn State admissions counselors are available by phone to answer questions about the academic and social opportunities at Penn State and to support individual students during the application process. We encourage applicants to reach out to us to discuss their unique circumstances. Students and/or their school counselors can send an email to admissions@psu.edu or call 814-865-5471.

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All of higher education is considering this very question – and most enrollment managers aren’t going to have any way to project with accuracy where enrollment will land. Just like all businesses and any operation in the U.S., or world, right now – the immediate future is unknown, but we are doing our best to reach and assist prospective students in ways that we can.

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The Undergraduate Admissions Office continues to operate, just differently through phones, live chats, email, Zoom appointments, and a growing number of scheduled live events online. Applications are being processed, mail is being opened, and notifications of admission decisions are being sent.

While we can’t invite prospective students to visit our campuses at this time, our staff are available to answer questions in any other format – visit admissions.psu.edu/experience to connect with us.

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Penn State wants to help support our future students impacted by the outbreak. We understand that fulfilling all parts of the application process may be difficult at this time. For summer or fall 2021 admission, Penn State is making SAT/ACT score submissions optional for prospective students to help ease the anxiety that many future students and families are experiencing as a result of test-taking disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will remain flexible and work with students during the current admission cycle on a case-by-case basis. We continue to encourage students to submit complete applications and supporting documentation whenever possible. Please contact us at admissions@psu.edu with the Subject Line: Application Concerns if you are unable to provide a final high school transcript, or other application materials.

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

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

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

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How is Penn State awarding student emergency grants from its federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund allocation?

Penn State was allotted nearly $55 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law on March 27. Half of Penn State’s allocation – or approximately $27.5 million – is designated by law to be disbursed as emergency cash grants to students impacted by disruptions to campus operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Penn State is distributing these grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University awarded grants up to $1,000 to more than 25,000 students, based on family income and other data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The University has announced a second round of funding that utilizes an application process to award grants to students with qualifying expenses who were not identified to receive funding during the first round. This second round of funding remains open for eligible students.

For answers to more frequently asked questions about the emergency grants, visit https://virusinfo.psu.edu/faq/topic/federal-funding.

To view Penn State’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund reporting information, visit https://opair.psu.edu/cares-act-information/.

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Students receiving grants during the first round of funding were notified of their award via their Penn State email account in May and had until June 30, 2020, to accept or decline the aid.

Students with qualifying expenses who were not identified to receive funding during the first round can apply now for a CARES Act emergency grant via a second round of funding.

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Students receiving aid in the first round of funding were required to certify in LionPATH that the funds will be used to cover eligible expenses they incurred as a result of disruptions to campus operations due to COVID-19. For the second round of funding, submission of an application serves as affirmation that a student has incurred qualifying expenses. As determined by Congress, eligible expenses include course materials, technology, food, housing, health care and child care.

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During the first round of funding, Penn State awarded cash grants of up to $1,000 based on family income and other information from the FAFSA, and recipients received a message in their Penn State email account notifying them of their award and how to accept it.

Penn State has opened an application-based second round of funding for students who were not identified to receive a grant in the initial round, subject to eligibility to receive federal student aid. Penn State has reserved approximately $2 million for this second round of funding, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis for students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

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As of July 28, Penn State has disbursed more than $25.7 million in CARES Act grants to approximately 26,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students across the University via two rounds of funding, with approximately $1.8 million remaining for eligible students.

Students who were enrolled during the spring 2020 semester and incurred qualifying expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic can apply online for an emergency grant to help defray those costs.

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The funds will be awarded to undergraduate, graduate, law and medical students at all Penn State campus locations, with the exception of World Campus. In accordance with federal requirements, students enrolled exclusively in online programs during the spring 2020 semester are not eligible for the emergency aid.

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The U.S. Department of Education and the CARES Act have provided higher education institutions with discretion on how to award the emergency assistance to students. In a letter to college and university presidents, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encouraged institutions to prioritize funding for those students with the greatest need, while also distributing grants as widely as possible for maximum impact.

Penn State prioritized lower-income students utilizing data from their 2019-20 FAFSA for the initial round of grants. To make as wide of an impact as possible, students with lower family incomes, including our Pell Grant-eligible students, will receive up to $1,000 each. This allotment allows Penn State to quickly provide meaningful financial relief to students with the greatest need, while also reaching a significant number of students – more than 25,000 in all across every physical campus.

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All students, including graduating seniors, who were enrolled in on-campus classes as of March 27 when the CARES Act was signed into law, and who meet eligibility criteria for federal student aid, will be considered for these funds.

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No. A student must have been enrolled in and completed the spring 2020 semester to be eligible for a grant.

By signing the Certification and Agreement for Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students, the University agreed to the Department of Education’s requirement that institutions promptly make these emergency financial aid grant funds available to students for their eligible expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus. These limited funds are provided to students enrolled during the spring 2020 semester who have already incurred expenses.

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As determined by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, some students are ineligible to receive the emergency federal aid. This includes students enrolled exclusively in online programs, such as Penn State World Campus students. Students who do not meet the criteria to receive Title IV federal student aid, such as international students, also are not eligible to receive Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund grants.

Other students may not have received a grant in the first round of funding because they did not complete a 2019-20 FAFSA, preventing the University from being able to determine their eligibility, or they did not meet the criteria for greatest financial need. Penn State has opened a second round of funding for students who were not identified to receive a grant in the initial round, subject to eligibility to receive federal student aid. Penn State has reserved approximately $2 million for this second round of funding, which is available on a first-come, first-served basis for students who incurred expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to COVID-19.

Recognizing that students who are not eligible for CARES Act funds may have experienced financial or personal hardships as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and that families’ financial pictures may have been altered by the pandemic, the University is encouraging any student with concerns related to COVID-19 to explore the resources provided by the Office of Student Care and Advocacy for assistance.

In addition, Complete Penn State provides resources such as financial aid for students who are within one or two semesters of completing their first associate or bachelor’s degree and experience a situation that negatively impacts their ability to complete their degree. Eligible students in need of aid are invited to apply at success.psu.edu/complete. Complete Penn State is available to students at all Penn State campuses, including World Campus, and to domestic and international students.

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As determined by Congress, the emergency funds must be used to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus, including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care.

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No. The emergency grants are not considered federal student aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and will not affect a student’s other 2019-20 financial aid. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education encourages colleges and universities to exclude these grants from the calculation of a student’s financial need for future years.

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According to the IRS, CARES Act emergency financial aid grants are qualified disaster relief payments under the Internal Revenue Code and not considered taxable income.

The University encourages students to seek tax advice from a third-party provider regarding their individual tax situation.

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No. The emergency grants do not have to be paid back.

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The other half of Penn State’s allocation under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, approximately $27.5 million, will be used to help pay employees with a connection to the educational mission of the University per the guidance that funds should be used to address costs related to the “significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.”

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Is Penn State testing students before they leave for home in November?

To help prevent virus transmission outside of Penn State’s campus communities as students return home, the University is offering free voluntary COVID-19 testing for students prior to leaving campus. Penn State is partnering with Vault Health for the departure testing, which will be conducted either in person at predetermined testing sites on certain campuses or via self-administered kits.

More information is available in this Penn State News story.

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The University’s testing protocols for students and employees, which include walk-up testing and random surveillance testing, will continue through Nov. 20. Due to the holiday, there will be no surveillance or walk-up testing from Nov. 21-29. However, the University will be prepared to support students with health services for those who remain on campuses over the Thanksgiving week. More specifics for each campus will follow.

All random surveillance testing will resume on campuses on Nov. 30 and continue through the remainder of the fall semester for employees working on site and students who may continue to live on or near Penn State campuses.

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Yes. Penn State’s quarantine and isolation space at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses will continue to be available after Nov. 20 for students who need to quarantine or isolate over the Thanksgiving break or after courses resume remotely on Nov. 30.

Students who are identified as needing to isolate or quarantine on or before Nov. 20 are expected to complete their isolation or quarantine period on campus or in another suitable single occupancy space off campus before they leave for Thanksgiving break and remote learning.

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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 students at University Park who wish to be tested.

For students at University Park who are asymptomatic of COVID-19 but want to be tested because of possible virus exposure or other reasons, walk-up testing is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena as of Oct. 9. Registration is not required, but students will need to bring their Penn State ID and smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free. This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. 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.

University Park students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not visit the walk-up site and instead seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is concerned about possible virus exposure, they should contact their on-campus health center or the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463. There is currently no walk-up testing at any of the Commonwealth Campuses on a regular basis, but the University continues to monitor campus and community conditions and may add this testing process at a future date.

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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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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions, up to and including separation from the University. It is important to note that any large gathering in violation of local ordinances will be considered a serious violation and will likely result in a suspension.

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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including loss of housing or separation from the University. It is important to note that any gathering exceeding residence hall restrictions (typically only two guests allowed per room) will be considered to be a serious violation and will likely result in a loss of housing, at minimum. Students should also be aware that guests from other residence halls are not permitted, and they may not visit other residence halls. In addition, as stated previously, visitors from other areas, universities, regions, etc. also are not permitted in the residence halls. This includes parents and family members. Violations of these expectations will be considered a serious violation.

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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 identified as a close contact through contact tracing, you must complete the entire quarantine period regardless of your test result. Since symptoms typically develop between 2 to 14 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19, close contacts are required to complete the 14-day quarantine period from their last contact with the positive individual. Penn State Contract Tracing or Student Support Services will tell you what your release date is pending your last contact with the COVID-19 positive person.

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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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It is vital that students socialize closely only with roommates, if possible. Students should avoid having friends over and avoid close socialization with people outside of their immediate household. When students do go out, they should wear a mask and maintain social distance. Students are encouraged to engage in outdoors activities, such as walking, hiking or biking, while following distancing and masking recommendations. These steps, though difficult, can slow the spread of the virus and make a real difference.

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University Health Services continues to take enhanced precautions and has implemented additional guidelines for the fall semester to help protect the health and safety of the Penn State campus community.

Precautions

UHS has increased cleaning and safety measures inside the Student Health Center and is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This includes:

— Disinfecting surfaces frequently.

— Maintaining physical distance.

— Wearing gloves and masks.

— Disinfecting all rooms, regardless if the visit was COVID-19 related or not.

— Implementing additional cleaning in negative pressure rooms.

— Using hand sanitizer or washing hands prior to and after seeing each patient.

— Assessing employee temperatures before they enter the Student Health Center.

UHS will only allow those with a scheduled in-person appointment inside the Student Health Center. Anyone who enters the Student Health Center will have their temperature taken, symptoms assessed, and must wear a mask. Plexiglass barriers also have been installed for added protection.

All patients will enter the Student Health Center through the front door, except those with COVID-19 concerns. Students who are being seen for COVID-19 will come through a different door and have a designated elevator to use, which will be communicated when the appointment is scheduled.

In addition, UHS has added a negative pressure suite, which includes nine additional negative pressure rooms, for 11 negative pressure rooms in total. These are single-occupancy patient-care rooms that use negative air pressure to prevent airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 from escaping the room and infecting others. This suite will be dedicated to seeing patients in-house that require a higher level of care for COVID-19.

Scheduling

Students who wish to schedule a medical appointment with UHS, including those with COVID-19 concerns, should call 814-863-0774 or visit myUHS online. Any patients who access care will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms. Students can still be seen for routine appointments such as women’s and men’s health, LGBTQ health, physical therapy and more. Students will be triaged based on their concerns, symptoms and visit type, and may be seen via telemedicine or asked to come to the Student Health Center. COVID-19 concerns may be addressed via telemedicine, unless in-person care is needed. Students should check with their insurance carrier in advance to determine if telemedicine visits are covered under their insurance plan.

Students who need to have lab tests completed, either ordered by a UHS clinician or an outside clinician, can schedule a lab appointment through myUHS.

Any nonclinical appointments that need to be scheduled with Student Health Insurance, Health Information Management, or Finance and Billing can be done by calling the specific department. Soon, students will be able to schedule an appointment through myUHS for all departments. These nonmedical appointments will be accomplished through Zoom or by phone.

For additional information about available UHS services and enhanced health precautions, read this Penn State News story.

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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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The University expects students to self-monitor their health, including for example by taking their temperature before going to class or campus. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it is only one of the potential symptoms individuals may have. Individuals with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and reach out to their health care provider.

The University has launched a COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app as another resource in which all members of the University community are strongly encouraged to check symptoms they may be having and receive instructions for how to proceed. The app also will contain updated information about CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health resources and helpful information, such as dining arrangements.

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Any student who feels sick or who has symptoms, or has been exposed to COVID-19, should stay home and seek the advice of a medical professional as appropriate. Students who test positive for the virus will need to isolate for at least 10 days since symptom onset and must have an improvement in symptoms and be fever free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication before returning to class. Students who test positive ​outside of a University testing process should notify Contact Tracing and Student Support Services by completing this form.

As part of the University’s contact tracing process, individuals who test positive will be interviewed to identify people with whom they had close contact (less than six feet of distance for 10 minutes or longer within two to four days before the onset of symptoms). These close contacts will be alerted, asked to quarantine for 14 days, and asked to be tested immediately.

Students who must isolate will receive detailed instructions, and they will receive check-ins regarding their health. The University will work closely with these students to see that they continue to make academic progress, and to assist with any other needs that may arise.

Additional information on the isolation and quarantine process can be found in this FAQ.

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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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Yes. All students should 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. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others and monitor their health.

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. If you test positive at a location away from campus, including in a different state, you should immediately contact University Health Services.

For more information about self-quarantine and other pre-arrival requirements for students, read this story in Penn State News.

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In preparation for the semester, students were required to read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH to acknowledge their responsibility and to agree to follow the rules outlined in the compact, as well as other directives from the University, to protect campus and local communities from the risks posed by COVID-19.

The agreement covers a variety of critical topics and health and safety expectations and requirements, including agreeing to participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing throughout the semester, isolate or quarantine if needed, wear face masks and social distance on campus, adhere to travel policies, get a flu vaccination when available, and more. The compact also covers the potential consequences for failing to abide by the compact in ways that risk others’ health and safety, such as through the student conduct process. Students who are not able to sustain these commitments throughout the semester may forfeit their ability to continue with on-campus activities, classes and living.

For more information about the compact, additional FAQs are available on the Student Affairs website.

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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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Although in-person dining is available, it is limited during the fall semester, with tables physically distanced and chairs removed in order to promote a safer eating environment for diners and workers in accordance with federal, state and local health and safety guidelines. Penn State also is offering additional seating outdoors at the University Park campus and other campuses while the weather allows.

Masking and social distancing guidelines must be observed, along with posted occupancy restrictions. Eating is only permitted in posted, designated areas and in a student’s residence hall room.

Residential Dining has put in place enhanced protocols including — but not limited to — the use of masks by all guests and staff; increased cleaning of high-touch surfaces and restrooms using an EPA-approved disinfectant; additional hand sanitizer stations; installation of Plexiglas in key areas; elimination of self-service options (such as beverages, condiments, etc.); and self-swipe card payments. All items will be served in disposable containers with pre-packaged silverware, condiments and beverages.

Students actually have more choices and more service styles available than have been offered in previous years. This includes a new mobile ordering and pickup option, and Scan N’ Go convenience store shopping and payment at select locations.

Additional information on Residential Dining’s plans for fall can be found here.

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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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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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Flexible options are available to students who are unable to return to any campus so they can continue to make progress toward their degrees. Additional information can be found at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/learning-at-home/. You can also learn about Penn State’s flexible instructional modes at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/flexible-instructional-modes/.

If you are unable to come to a Penn State campus this fall, you can still be connected with the Penn State community and provided with opportunities to stay engaged and motivated. Resources for beginning or continuing your education are available through Penn State Start at Home and Continue at Home programming.

We are committed to providing you with the breadth of support to make this a productive and engaging fall; a world-class education regardless of the method of instruction; an experience that will help you build relationships with a peer group of students who are going through this situation with you.

And once you can join us on campus, you will continue these relationships in person.

For our international students, we are excited to welcome scholars from across the globe into our community, even if current circumstances prevent residential study. International students who are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19 will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the U.S. International students can visit global.psu.edu or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.

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Throughout the pandemic, Penn State has been working with local community leaders and stakeholders, both in the State College area and in neighboring communities across the commonwealth, to partner on strategies to limit the local impacts of COVID-19 through collaborative efforts informed by health and science. To allow in-residence instruction and activities to continue and to uphold the health and safety of campus and local communities, students will be urged to take personal responsibility and follow health guidelines, including wearing masks, adhering to physical distancing practices, washing hands, and covering coughs and sneezes.

In addition to providing education and support directly to students, fraternities and other student organizations, Penn State is coordinating with local government officials, landlords and local employers to share resources and to encourage students to follow expectations for off-campus behavior. In addition, a new University policy was developed due to these new circumstances, where we must rely on everyone to fulfill their social obligation to keep the community as healthy as possible. Based on the governor’s guidelines advising against large gatherings, and out of respect for the risks to the broader University community, large gatherings are discouraged. Indoor gatherings cannot exceed 25 individuals, and must adhere to masking and social distancing requirements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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We are dedicated to supporting students who are immunocompromised or at-risk to identify and develop appropriate accommodations, for both on-campus housing and academic needs. Students in need of housing assistance can find contact information for Housing and Food Services at https://hfs.psu.edu/campuses. Students in need of academic assistance should reach out to their college or campus advising office.

For students who are unable to return to any campus this fall, there are flexible options so that they can continue to make progress toward their degrees.

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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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The University purchased 500,000 reusable, Penn State-branded cloth face masks to be distributed across all campuses. Cloth face masks will be provided to students as needed at the beginning of the semester and employees will receive face masks prior to returning to work. To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required in all University buildings, including in classrooms and labs, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible. Students and employees also should practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wear face masks within their local communities, in line with local and state requirements.

More information on mask distribution is available in this Penn State News story.

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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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University Park students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who think they may have been exposed 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 local physician’s office. Penn State urges faculty and staff to contact their health care provider if they have respiratory symptoms with a fever or have concerns related to COVID-19.

University Health Services provides telemedicine and in-person visits. All patients with medical concerns must be scheduled for an appointment either online or through the appointment phone line at 814-863-0774. If you are experiencing upper respiratory infection or flu-like illness, you will need to call the UHS Advice Nurse line at 814-863-4463 prior to having an appointment scheduled. UHS will not be accommodating walk-ins.

According to the CDC:

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

Everyone should wash their hands often.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact.

Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker.
  • Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

Monitor Your Health

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.

  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

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Is Penn State testing students before they leave for home in November?

To help prevent virus transmission outside of Penn State’s campus communities as students return home, the University is offering free voluntary COVID-19 testing for students prior to leaving campus. Penn State is partnering with Vault Health for the departure testing, which will be conducted either in person at predetermined testing sites on certain campuses or via self-administered kits.

More information is available in this Penn State News story.

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The University’s testing protocols for students and employees, which include walk-up testing and random surveillance testing, will continue through Nov. 20. Due to the holiday, there will be no surveillance or walk-up testing from Nov. 21-29. However, the University will be prepared to support students with health services for those who remain on campuses over the Thanksgiving week. More specifics for each campus will follow.

All random surveillance testing will resume on campuses on Nov. 30 and continue through the remainder of the fall semester for employees working on site and students who may continue to live on or near Penn State campuses.

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Yes. Penn State’s quarantine and isolation space at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses will continue to be available after Nov. 20 for students who need to quarantine or isolate over the Thanksgiving break or after courses resume remotely on Nov. 30.

Students who are identified as needing to isolate or quarantine on or before Nov. 20 are expected to complete their isolation or quarantine period on campus or in another suitable single occupancy space off campus before they leave for Thanksgiving break and remote learning.

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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 students at University Park who wish to be tested.

For students at University Park who are asymptomatic of COVID-19 but want to be tested because of possible virus exposure or other reasons, walk-up testing is available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena as of Oct. 9. Registration is not required, but students will need to bring their Penn State ID and smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free. This walk-up testing is voluntary and does not replace mandatory surveillance testing. 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.

University Park students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not visit the walk-up site and instead seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, if a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is concerned about possible virus exposure, they should contact their on-campus health center or the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463. There is currently no walk-up testing at any of the Commonwealth Campuses on a regular basis, but the University continues to monitor campus and community conditions and may add this testing process at a future date.

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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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If you are identified as a close contact through contact tracing, you must complete the entire quarantine period regardless of your test result. Since symptoms typically develop between 2 to 14 days after exposure to someone with COVID-19, close contacts are required to complete the 14-day quarantine period from their last contact with the positive individual. Penn State Contract Tracing or Student Support Services will tell you what your release date is pending your last contact with the COVID-19 positive person.

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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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The University expects students to self-monitor their health, including for example by taking their temperature before going to class or campus. While fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, it is only one of the potential symptoms individuals may have. Individuals with a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms should stay home and reach out to their health care provider.

The University has launched a COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go app as another resource in which all members of the University community are strongly encouraged to check symptoms they may be having and receive instructions for how to proceed. The app also will contain updated information about CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health resources and helpful information, such as dining arrangements.

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Any student who feels sick or who has symptoms, or has been exposed to COVID-19, should stay home and seek the advice of a medical professional as appropriate. Students who test positive for the virus will need to isolate for at least 10 days since symptom onset and must have an improvement in symptoms and be fever free for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication before returning to class. Students who test positive ​outside of a University testing process should notify Contact Tracing and Student Support Services by completing this form.

As part of the University’s contact tracing process, individuals who test positive will be interviewed to identify people with whom they had close contact (less than six feet of distance for 10 minutes or longer within two to four days before the onset of symptoms). These close contacts will be alerted, asked to quarantine for 14 days, and asked to be tested immediately.

Students who must isolate will receive detailed instructions, and they will receive check-ins regarding their health. The University will work closely with these students to see that they continue to make academic progress, and to assist with any other needs that may arise.

Additional information on the isolation and quarantine process can be found in this FAQ.

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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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In preparation for the semester, students were required to read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH to acknowledge their responsibility and to agree to follow the rules outlined in the compact, as well as other directives from the University, to protect campus and local communities from the risks posed by COVID-19.

The agreement covers a variety of critical topics and health and safety expectations and requirements, including agreeing to participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing throughout the semester, isolate or quarantine if needed, wear face masks and social distance on campus, adhere to travel policies, get a flu vaccination when available, and more. The compact also covers the potential consequences for failing to abide by the compact in ways that risk others’ health and safety, such as through the student conduct process. Students who are not able to sustain these commitments throughout the semester may forfeit their ability to continue with on-campus activities, classes and living.

For more information about the compact, additional FAQs are available on the Student Affairs website.

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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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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions, up to and including separation from the University. It is important to note that any large gathering in violation of local ordinances will be considered a serious violation and will likely result in a suspension.

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Violations of the University’s expectations or local or state laws related to COVID-19 will typically result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC). OSC will enact its conduct process, and students who are determined to be responsible for a violation will be subject to sanctions up to and including loss of housing or separation from the University. It is important to note that any gathering exceeding residence hall restrictions (typically only two guests allowed per room) will be considered to be a serious violation and will likely result in a loss of housing, at minimum. Students should also be aware that guests from other residence halls are not permitted, and they may not visit other residence halls. In addition, as stated previously, visitors from other areas, universities, regions, etc. also are not permitted in the residence halls. This includes parents and family members. Violations of these expectations will be considered a serious violation.

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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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It is vital that students socialize closely only with roommates, if possible. Students should avoid having friends over and avoid close socialization with people outside of their immediate household. When students do go out, they should wear a mask and maintain social distance. Students are encouraged to engage in outdoors activities, such as walking, hiking or biking, while following distancing and masking recommendations. These steps, though difficult, can slow the spread of the virus and make a real difference.

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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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Yes. All students should 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. Quarantine helps prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected without feeling symptoms. People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others and monitor their health.

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. If you test positive at a location away from campus, including in a different state, you should immediately contact University Health Services.

For more information about self-quarantine and other pre-arrival requirements for students, read this story in Penn State News.

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In preparation for the semester, students were required to read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH to acknowledge their responsibility and to agree to follow the rules outlined in the compact, as well as other directives from the University, to protect campus and local communities from the risks posed by COVID-19.

The agreement covers a variety of critical topics and health and safety expectations and requirements, including agreeing to participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing throughout the semester, isolate or quarantine if needed, wear face masks and social distance on campus, adhere to travel policies, get a flu vaccination when available, and more. The compact also covers the potential consequences for failing to abide by the compact in ways that risk others’ health and safety, such as through the student conduct process. Students who are not able to sustain these commitments throughout the semester may forfeit their ability to continue with on-campus activities, classes and living.

For more information about the compact, additional FAQs are available on the Student Affairs website.

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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 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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The University purchased 500,000 reusable, Penn State-branded cloth face masks to be distributed across all campuses. Cloth face masks will be provided to students as needed at the beginning of the semester and employees will receive face masks prior to returning to work. To reduce the risk of widespread virus transmission, wearing face masks and social distancing will be required in all University buildings, including in classrooms and labs, as well as outdoors on campus when social distancing is not possible. Students and employees also should practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wear face masks within their local communities, in line with local and state requirements.

More information on mask distribution is available in this Penn State News story.

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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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What are Penn State’s plans for tuition in the 2020-21 academic year?

Because of the economic hardships facing Pennsylvania and the nation, Penn State has frozen tuition rates for all students, including in-state and out-of-state students, University-wide for the 2020-21 academic year. This marks the third consecutive year that Penn State has held tuition rates flat for Pennsylvania resident students. You can learn more in this Penn State News article.

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Because of the economic hardships facing Pennsylvania and the nation, Penn State has frozen in-state and out-of-state tuition rates University-wide for the 2020-21 academic year, marking the third consecutive year that Penn State has held tuition rates flat for Pennsylvania resident students.

For years, Penn State has offered many educational options for students at campuses across the commonwealth within a varied cost structure. Consistent with past course offerings and established tuition rates, and with a focus on the health and safety of our students and their families, the University is leveraging this flexibility to offer additional cost alternatives for the fall 2020 semester based on individual needs. For fall 2020, there are options with varied tuition rates, so that students can continue to make progress toward their degrees:

• Students who come to University Park or any one of our 20 Commonwealth Campuses this fall will have the option to choose from a variety of flexible instructional modes – from in-person course delivery to hybrid and remote learning options. In addition, there will be in-person engagement and co-curricular experiences – with appropriate social distancing and other precautions in place – including Student Affairs services, tutoring, and clubs and organizations. Tuition will be charged at the campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state rate.

• Temporary change of campus location: Students will have access to all of the in-person and remote courses and co-curricular programming offered at their temporary campus that any student may select for any reason for the fall 2020 semester. As such, tuition will be charged at the temporary campus’s standard in-state/out-of-state.

• Temporary change of campus to Penn State World Campus: World Campus offers a portfolio of asynchronous online courses, which feature engagement with peers and faculty built into the course design. Please note, however, that World Campus does not offer the full range of courses available either at University Park or the Commonwealth Campuses, and there is limited capacity in World Campus. Tuition will be charged at the World Campus rate.

Penn State is focused on supporting students and helping them meet educational outcomes regardless of the method of delivery. It is essential that students consult their academic adviser to determine the best option to accommodate their individual needs; shifts in their mode of education could delay their progress toward graduation or mean changes in financial aid, awards, and other differences.

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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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Co-curricular learning is an important component of students’ college experiences. Student organizations are expected to adhere to all health and safety requirements established by the University, including social distancing and meeting virtually. While large gatherings will be prohibited upon return, restrictions may be loosened depending on results of early stage mitigation efforts.

Students are encouraged to check online for information about changes regarding specific activities and events.

Fall Career Days 2020 will take place virtually

Penn State THON, scheduled for Feb. 19-21, 2021, will take place virtually

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What can students expect if they need to receive care from University Health Services this fall? What safety precautions are in place at the Student Health Center?

University Health Services continues to take enhanced precautions and has implemented additional guidelines for the fall semester to help protect the health and safety of the Penn State campus community.

Precautions

UHS has increased cleaning and safety measures inside the Student Health Center and is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This includes:

— Disinfecting surfaces frequently.

— Maintaining physical distance.

— Wearing gloves and masks.

— Disinfecting all rooms, regardless if the visit was COVID-19 related or not.

— Implementing additional cleaning in negative pressure rooms.

— Using hand sanitizer or washing hands prior to and after seeing each patient.

— Assessing employee temperatures before they enter the Student Health Center.

UHS will only allow those with a scheduled in-person appointment inside the Student Health Center. Anyone who enters the Student Health Center will have their temperature taken, symptoms assessed, and must wear a mask. Plexiglass barriers also have been installed for added protection.

All patients will enter the Student Health Center through the front door, except those with COVID-19 concerns. Students who are being seen for COVID-19 will come through a different door and have a designated elevator to use, which will be communicated when the appointment is scheduled.

In addition, UHS has added a negative pressure suite, which includes nine additional negative pressure rooms, for 11 negative pressure rooms in total. These are single-occupancy patient-care rooms that use negative air pressure to prevent airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 from escaping the room and infecting others. This suite will be dedicated to seeing patients in-house that require a higher level of care for COVID-19.

Scheduling

Students who wish to schedule a medical appointment with UHS, including those with COVID-19 concerns, should call 814-863-0774 or visit myUHS online. Any patients who access care will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms. Students can still be seen for routine appointments such as women’s and men’s health, LGBTQ health, physical therapy and more. Students will be triaged based on their concerns, symptoms and visit type, and may be seen via telemedicine or asked to come to the Student Health Center. COVID-19 concerns may be addressed via telemedicine, unless in-person care is needed. Students should check with their insurance carrier in advance to determine if telemedicine visits are covered under their insurance plan.

Students who need to have lab tests completed, either ordered by a UHS clinician or an outside clinician, can schedule a lab appointment through myUHS.

Any nonclinical appointments that need to be scheduled with Student Health Insurance, Health Information Management, or Finance and Billing can be done by calling the specific department. Soon, students will be able to schedule an appointment through myUHS for all departments. These nonmedical appointments will be accomplished through Zoom or by phone.

For additional information about available UHS services and enhanced health precautions, read this Penn State News story.

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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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The University has approximately 45 designated Remote Learning Rooms at University Park for students to use to view their remote classes individually or together in small groups, while social distancing and wearing masks, this fall. These spaces are smaller general purpose classrooms that have not been scheduled for classes because social distancing (due to COVID-19) did not permit for the necessary occupancy. So these rooms are free for this use. In addition to regular student spaces on campus that have had seating adjusted for social distancing, these rooms are open for use during normal building hours and have clear signage indicating that they are intended for access for remote classes. Students will need to bring their own devices. Room locations and capacity are available by selecting the “Remote Learning Rooms” option on the campus map a map.psu.edu.

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Penn State computer labs have reopened for the fall 2020 semester. Social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures will take place in accordance with CDC recommendations. It may be necessary to reduce computer availability and adjust hours of operation to accommodate social distancing and the necessary cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The University will monitor and evaluate cleaning protocols for these areas and adjust as needed.

Students and faculty may also access University computer lab software remotely via WebLabs. Students with unmet technology needs should contact Penn State IT at 814-865-HELP (4357) or ITservicedesk@psu.edu for individual arrangements.

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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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Visit the University Libraries’ website for full information about hours and protocols. A vast array of remote services and online resources remain available to support student, faculty and staff needs.

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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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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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University Health Services continues to take enhanced precautions and has implemented additional guidelines for the fall semester to help protect the health and safety of the Penn State campus community.

Precautions

UHS has increased cleaning and safety measures inside the Student Health Center and is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. This includes:

— Disinfecting surfaces frequently.

— Maintaining physical distance.

— Wearing gloves and masks.

— Disinfecting all rooms, regardless if the visit was COVID-19 related or not.

— Implementing additional cleaning in negative pressure rooms.

— Using hand sanitizer or washing hands prior to and after seeing each patient.

— Assessing employee temperatures before they enter the Student Health Center.

UHS will only allow those with a scheduled in-person appointment inside the Student Health Center. Anyone who enters the Student Health Center will have their temperature taken, symptoms assessed, and must wear a mask. Plexiglass barriers also have been installed for added protection.

All patients will enter the Student Health Center through the front door, except those with COVID-19 concerns. Students who are being seen for COVID-19 will come through a different door and have a designated elevator to use, which will be communicated when the appointment is scheduled.

In addition, UHS has added a negative pressure suite, which includes nine additional negative pressure rooms, for 11 negative pressure rooms in total. These are single-occupancy patient-care rooms that use negative air pressure to prevent airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19 from escaping the room and infecting others. This suite will be dedicated to seeing patients in-house that require a higher level of care for COVID-19.

Scheduling

Students who wish to schedule a medical appointment with UHS, including those with COVID-19 concerns, should call 814-863-0774 or visit myUHS online. Any patients who access care will be assessed for COVID-19 symptoms. Students can still be seen for routine appointments such as women’s and men’s health, LGBTQ health, physical therapy and more. Students will be triaged based on their concerns, symptoms and visit type, and may be seen via telemedicine or asked to come to the Student Health Center. COVID-19 concerns may be addressed via telemedicine, unless in-person care is needed. Students should check with their insurance carrier in advance to determine if telemedicine visits are covered under their insurance plan.

Students who need to have lab tests completed, either ordered by a UHS clinician or an outside clinician, can schedule a lab appointment through myUHS.

Any nonclinical appointments that need to be scheduled with Student Health Insurance, Health Information Management, or Finance and Billing can be done by calling the specific department. Soon, students will be able to schedule an appointment through myUHS for all departments. These nonmedical appointments will be accomplished through Zoom or by phone.

For additional information about available UHS services and enhanced health precautions, read this Penn State News story.

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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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Current students

Students who are in need of course accommodations are encouraged to contact Student Disability Resources by calling 814-863-1807 or emailing edaccessibility@psu.edu. Staff are available for virtual appointments and can explore accommodation needs specific to the remote environment.

New students

Student Disability Resources welcomes contact from incoming students who are interested in registering for services. Staff are available for virtual appointments and can answer any questions about the registration process.

Incoming students are encouraged to complete their registration over the summer prior to the start of the fall semester. Students can learn more about registering for services by calling 814-863-1807, emailing edaccessibility@psu.edu, or reviewing information at http://equity.psu.edu/student-disability-resources/applying-for-services.

Penn State has a disability services office at every Penn State campus that provides accommodations and services for students with disabilities. Incoming students should contact the disability coordinator at the campus where they will be enrolled.

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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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We know there are many students who are experiencing financial stress. The University has worked to adjust the pre-existing Student Emergency Fund to meet the growing needs of our student community during this pandemic crisis by making this a deliberate part of the University’s fundraising efforts. Students who are in need should reach out to the Student Care and Advocacy Office, which has increased its staffing to meet the influx of applications and help evaluate and assist students in the most dire situations. Additional resources for students, as well as faculty and staff, are listed at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/resources.

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The Office of Student Care and Advocacy and Counseling & Psychological Services are two resources that stand ready to support any student requiring attention to immediate financial or academic issues or counseling needs arising from the many changes and uncertainties caused by the global coronavirus outbreak.

Student Care and Advocacy
studentaffairs.psu.edu/studentcare
814-863-2020
StudentCare@psu.edu


Counseling & Psychological Services
studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling
814-863-0395
24-hour Crisis Line: 1-877-229-6400
Commonwealth Campus Counseling Services

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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Yes. To provide support to students from a distance during this critical time, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains open and is continuing to offer a range of services, including same-day phone support, individual counseling sessions, a new You@PSU self-help portal, and daily virtual LifeHacks sessions for students.

CAPS is providing telephone-based services to all students, as well as offering video-based counseling for students who reside in states that permit tele-counseling over state lines.

To get support, University Park students can call CAPS at 814-863-0395 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and students at Commonwealth Campuses can contact the CAPS office at their campus location. In addition, 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 all students who are in crisis or need support.

While the logistics of providing counseling and therapy to students have changed during the response to this global pandemic, CAPS is a phone call away regardless of where a student is located, and CAPS continues to work through state-by-state regulations for providing services.

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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What does this mean for international students, immunocompromised or at-risk students, or others who are unable to be on campus this fall?

Flexible options are available to students who are unable to return to any campus so they can continue to make progress toward their degrees. Additional information can be found at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/learning-at-home/. You can also learn about Penn State’s flexible instructional modes at https://keeplearning.psu.edu/fall-2020/flexible-instructional-modes/.

If you are unable to come to a Penn State campus this fall, you can still be connected with the Penn State community and provided with opportunities to stay engaged and motivated. Resources for beginning or continuing your education are available through Penn State Start at Home and Continue at Home programming.

We are committed to providing you with the breadth of support to make this a productive and engaging fall; a world-class education regardless of the method of instruction; an experience that will help you build relationships with a peer group of students who are going through this situation with you.

And once you can join us on campus, you will continue these relationships in person.

For our international students, we are excited to welcome scholars from across the globe into our community, even if current circumstances prevent residential study. International students who are unable to travel to a Penn State campus this fall as a result of travel restrictions, delays in visa processing, or other circumstances related to COVID-19 will be able to use asynchronous remote learning options from time zones outside the U.S. International students can visit global.psu.edu or contact the Office of Global Programs at 814-865-7681 for more information.

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The University will provide resources and support to international students who can’t be on campus to help them select courses and develop schedules that will enable them to move forward with their academic progress and advance toward a degree. As a member of the Penn State family, a student joins a long tradition of academic excellence with a university committed to providing unrivaled opportunities. It is through the dedication of exceptional students, faculty, and staff that makes Penn State a truly extraordinary place to study. Our faculty – who are the same in the classroom as those that would teach you remotely – have innovative solutions to provide exceptional learning experiences for our students. You will meet faculty, you will make friends, and you will set yourself on a path toward success this fall and when you are back on campus. We are ready for you now to help you prepare for your future. Additional options are being developed and considered and will be announced over the coming weeks.

For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions for international students, please visit https://global.psu.edu/covidintlfaq#.

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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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When is fall commencement?

The fall commencement ceremony will be held virtually at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News article.

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With the health and safety of participants and the community in mind, the fall 2020 commencement ceremony will be held virtually at 2 p.m. on Dec. 19 and can be viewed at https://fall2020.commencement.psu.edu.

Additional details are available in this Penn State News article.

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In an ongoing effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the fall semester concludes with all classes moving to a remote format beginning Nov. 30, following the Thanksgiving break. With the shift to remote learning at the end of the semester, it is simply not prudent to bring thousands of guests back to campus to gather in one location to celebrate commencement.

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The virtual ceremony on Dec. 19 is a way, during this time of social distancing, to more immediately recognize the completion of our students’ academic experience and to mark this significant milestone in their lives. We view the virtual commencement as the first step in recognizing the Class of 2020. A virtual commencement allows those graduates who are unable to travel back to campus due to other circumstances, (e.g. employment, cost, family obligations) to take part and be recognized by our community.

The Class of 2020 deserves a just reward for the hard-earned academic accomplishments of its members. When social restrictions are lifted and medical experts determine we can move forward with an in-person event, Penn State will set a date for those who are interested and have the ability to come back together in celebration.

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The virtual ceremony provides an opportunity for all Penn State students — undergraduate and graduate, at all campus locations — who have filed an intent to graduate in the fall of 2020, the opportunity to gather virtually as a University community for a timely celebration of their academic achievements.

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The virtual ceremony will include elements of a traditional ceremony, including leadership remarks, conferral of degrees, and induction into the Penn State Alumni Association. Following the virtual ceremony, graduates, friends and families may explore additional digital content created for each college and Commonwealth Campus. The content on these pages is tailored more specifically to those communities of learning, including individual student recognition via shareable digital slides.

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This recognition, in the form of digital slides, will include the student’s name, degree and major, with voice talent reading the student’s name aloud.

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No, providing information for the digital slide and viewing the virtual ceremony does not preclude a student from participating in a later, in-person celebration on campus to recognize the Class of 2020.

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Included within the email to be sent to students on Oct. 19 will be instructions for those who do not wish to have a slide included.

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Penn State partners with a vendor to create the digital slides that will include each student’s name, degree, major and a professional voice talent recording of the student’s name. Students will not be responsible for creating their own slide. Graduates will receive an email from graduation@psu.edu via our vendor, MarchingOrder, with more details on the digital slides.

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While we certainly hope members of the Class of 2020 and their families and friends tune in to the virtual ceremony, there is no requirement to do so. Penn State remains committed to inviting the Class of 2020 back to campus for in-person celebrations when public health guidelines permit this to occur.

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Students, families and friends will be viewing the virtual ceremony online from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. It is not required that students wear a cap and gown while they watch the virtual ceremony. As a gift in recognition of achieving this milestone, Penn State will be sending graduates a cap and tassel. More information on this gift will be sent to graduates via email during the week of Oct. 5.

We encourage graduates to post pictures of their in-home celebrations to social media platforms with the hashtag #PSUgrad.

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We will continue to monitor the status of the global pandemic and evolving public health guidelines as we get closer to May 2021 to make the best determination for the schedule and format for the spring 2021 ceremony. Numerous considerations and contingencies need to be accounted for in planning an event that has the potential for up to 80,000 visitors to University Park, as well as thousands of visitors to other campuses over the course of a single weekend, especially given the uncertainties of the continued spread of COVID-19 until then.

Whatever the plans and format are for spring 2021 commencement, rest assured that all plans will be made in the best interests of the health and safety of our communities.

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You may contact graduation@psu.edu.

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After all degree requirements are met, your diploma will be mailed to the diploma address (if applicable) or permanent address set in LionPATH. Additional diploma questions may be sent to registrar@psu.edu.

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There will be in-person commencement celebrations, as this is as much a priority for us as we know it is for our students. The date, however, has not yet been determined. The ongoing pandemic is a fluid situation, and we need to continue to monitor public health guidelines. Once a date is set, that will be communicated via email, Penn State News, and Penn State’s social media channels.

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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 students will be selected and tested for COVID-19 as part of our multi-pronged testing program. This will allow the University to identify asymptomatic cases (individuals who don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19, but may have the virus), which require isolation. Testing also allows us to assess the levels of any potential spread of the virus in our student population. The test looks for the presence of the coronavirus and helps determine who can spread it. By testing as many people as possible, we hope to minimize the risk of infection on our Penn State campuses and in our communities.

Beginning Aug. 24, surveillance testing of approximately 1% of our campus population has been and will be conducted daily. If a student is selected for surveillance testing, they will be notified via email. Participation in the surveillance testing program is required (except for pre-determined exceptions). There is no cost to the student for this program.

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

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Students are selected to participate in surveillance testing if they live in their campus community, regardless of their learning status. For University Park, students are required to participate if they are currently residing within Centre County. For World Campus students living in Centre County, students are required to participate in surveillance testing.

For Commonwealth Campuses, students are required to participate if they have an on-campus component to their learning schedule or live within close proximity to campus. For World Campus students, students are required to participate in surveillance testing if they have a residential campus course that has an in-person component.

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University Park: If a student is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link will expire the following day. Upon registering, individuals will have the option to schedule their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

Commonwealth Campuses: If a student is selected, they will be notified via email. The registration link will expire the after 48 hours. Upon registering, individuals will have the option to schedule their test within the next two days. Individuals will receive reminders via email and text message.

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Testing locations and strategies vary by campus.

At University Park, when you register for the surveillance test, you will be provided with a list of locations where you can be tested. Testing sites follow all guidelines with respect to social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, and sanitation of spaces.

At Commonwealth Campuses, specific instructions for how to proceed with testing will be included in your surveillance invitation email.

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At University Park, the test will be performed using an anterior nasal swab. This is NOT the deep invasive nasal swab. This test requires the insertion of a swab approximately one inch into each nostril. After you check in for your appointment, a staff member will guide you through the self-collection process.

At Commonwealth Campuses, a saliva-based test is used. Depending on the campus, you will either pick up a test kit or you will request that a kit be mailed to your home. (Detailed instructions will be included in your email invitation.) After you have the kit, you will complete the testing process using a Vault telehealth visit.

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At University Park, wait time is estimated to be less than 15 minutes throughout the day. Please remember to wear a mask and socially distance while waiting in line.

For the Commonwealth Campuses that are distributing tests, the wait time is minor — students simply schedule a time to pick up their test and take it home with them.

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Please bring your Penn State ID card, along with your mask.

For Commonwealth Campuses that are distributing Vault test kits, students should also bring their smartphone or other device to show their scheduled appointment time to the health care provider.

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To reschedule your appointment, log back into the system through your registration email and reschedule. You can only reschedule during your eligibility window.

For Commonwealth Campuses, students are able to reschedule their testing window one time, within 48 hours of receiving the email indicating they’ve been selected for surveillance testing.

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

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University Park: As part of this program, nasal swab samples are analyzed in pools, or groups. This means that your sample will be combined with samples of other students. The combined samples, or pool of samples, are tested. Negative results from this test will not be reported to you individually. If your sample is part of a pool that returns in an indeterminate result, all people in the pool will be contacted and asked to complete an individual level follow-up test and to isolate as a precautionary measure. If further action is required of you, you will be contacted via telephone or email within 24-48 hours of your test.


Commonwealth Campuses: Test results will be emailed to you within approximately 48 hours AFTER your test arrives at Vault Health.

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University Park: If further action is required of you, you will be contacted via phone and/or email within 24-48 hours. If your sample is part of a pool that returns in an indeterminate result, all persons in the pool will be contacted and asked to complete an individual level follow-up test and to isolate as a precautionary measure. Otherwise, you will not receive a test result.

Commonwealth Campuses: You will receive your results via your Penn State psu.edu email account.

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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 negative results.

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If you have a previous positive test, please log in to 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.

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Due to the random and risk-stratified approach to the testing, students cannot volunteer to participate in the surveillance/random testing program. However, students have other options for testing.

University Park: 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. At University Park, if a student is asymptomatic (does not have symptoms), but wants testing because of known exposure or other reasons, they may seek testing at Penn State’s walk-up site, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena.

Commonwealth Campuses: If a student has COVID-19 symptoms or is concerned about possible virus exposure, they should contact their on-campus health center or the 24/7 nurse advice line at 814-863-4463. There is currently no walk-up testing at any of the Commonwealth Campuses on a regular basis, but the University continues to monitor campus and community conditions and may add this testing process at a future date.

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Regardless of your symptom profile, a positive test will result in isolation. University Health Services/Student Contact Tracing will contact you by phone or email and discuss guidelines for isolation and will provide you with the date you can return to normal activity. If you are living on campus, you will be moved to on-campus isolation space.

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

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