Testing and Support

Last updated Oct. 20, 2021

What you need to know about testing


  • Due to road closures for the Homecoming parade, the White Building testing site will close at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.

  • The University's fall 2021 COVID-19 testing plans include voluntary drop-in and mail-in testing, symptomatic testing and required testing.

  • Students and employees who have not informed the University that they have been fully vaccinated are subject to required weekly testing during the fall semester. Students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccination records through myUHS, and employees and World Campus students can do so through Salesforce Health Cloud.

  • At University Park, drop-in and by-appointment COVID-19 testing is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday at the White Building for students living on or near campus and faculty and staff who are working on campus. Individuals who need to schedule an appointment should follow the link in their weekly testing email.

The health and safety of Penn State students, faculty, staff and surrounding communities are the University's top priorities. To that end, Penn State has developed a comprehensive fall 2021 COVID-19 testing strategy for all campuses.

REQUIRED TESTING FOR ALL UNVACCINATED STUDENTS THROUGHOUT THE SEMESTER //

During the semester, all students enrolled at a residential campus and taking in person classes or web courses — living both on and off campus — who remain unvaccinated or do not submit confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination to the University will be required to test for COVID-19 weekly throughout the semester or until they share with the University that they have been fully vaccinated.

Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be referred to quarantine and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Contact Tracing will communicate with all students identified as close contacts regardless of their vaccination status.

Students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccination records through myUHS.

Students and employees with a documented need can submit an application for a medical or religious testing waiver; however, there are rare instances in which an application for an exemption will be granted by the University.

This requirement is not applicable to World Campus Students. World Campus students living near the University Park campus can use walk-up testing this fall if needed.

University Park student testing

At University Park, students who are required to test will receive a weekly notification email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu with instructions on how to schedule a testing appointment on campus. Appointment confirmation emails will be sent to students when they schedule their appointment and will include information on how to reschedule appointments. Students are encouraged to make their appointment for testing as soon as possible after receiving the email in order to have the most options for test times.

Commonwealth Campus and Dickinson Law student testing

Commonwealth Campus and Dickinson Law students who are required to test will receive a weekly notification email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu with instructions on how to schedule a test pickup appointment on campus or complete a mail-in COVID-19 test from Vault, a third-party vendor. During the first week of classes, students should expect the testing email to arrive midweek and will have a defined period (based on how the tests are distributed) to complete the test. During the semester, the testing emails will be distributed on a recurring basis with details of test completion deadlines.

The type of test — on-campus or mail-in — varies from campus to campus and can depend on whether the student lives on or off campus. Students who must test should follow the instructions in their testing email.

Student compliance

Students who fail to test by the weekly deadline will receive an email with a warning that the student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and be placed under a registration hold, which prohibits future course registration, if they fail to test within the required time window a second time.

Students who fail to test within the required window a second time during the fall semester will immediately be placed under a registration hold and will be referred to Student Conduct. More information on registration holds is available online.

Students who fail to test a third time within the required window during the semester will immediately be placed on interim suspension. The student’s instructors will be notified of the interim suspension and the student will not be permitted to enter any campus building or participate in any class, activity or program of the University, including Penn State football games. In addition, students living on campus who are placed on interim suspension must vacate their residence hall. The interim suspension will be lifted if the student gets tested; however, the Student Conduct process will continue.

There will be additional accountability for students who continue to disregard their testing obligations after their third instance of noncompliance. At the conclusion of a formal student conduct process, the student may face consequences up to and including immediate suspension from the University.

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REQUIRED TESTING FOR UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES //

Beginning Sept. 1, full-time faculty and staff who have not shared with the University that they are vaccinated for COVID-19 will receive a weekly email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu with campus-specific instructions on how to get tested. The email will notify them that they are required to test weekly throughout the semester unless and until they report in the University’s Salesforce Health Cloud that they are fully vaccinated. Employees should get tested within seven days.

At University Park, employees will take a rapid COVID-19 test at White Building and are encouraged to visit the testing site as soon as possible after receiving their email. There is no appointment required. Employees are encouraged to test in the morning to avoid the busiest testing times and should plan to be at the test site for 20-30 minutes. Positive test results will be confirmed with a subsequent PCR test.

All required faculty and staff testing at Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law, or for those who work at off-site locations, will be conducted using mail-in COVID-19 test kits from Vault Health, a third-party vendor. Email notifications will include a link to order a test kit. All completed tests should be mailed or returned to a campus drop box within 24 hours of completion.

Employees who test positive must enter isolation and will not be permitted to return to on-site work until they have completed an isolation period that meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. COVID-19-positive staff employees will be expected to use accrued sick, vacation or personal time (if available) or be placed on an unpaid leave status for the absence to cover any time off until they are released to return to work by Penn State Occupational Medicine. Employees may work remotely during the isolation period (with approval from their manager) if their symptoms are mild and their position allows. Contact tracing staff will communicate with all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of their vaccination status. Instructors, faculty members and researchers are expected to work with their academic unit leader to determine how to best cover their responsibilities if they test positive and enter an isolation period.

Staff who are represented by a union should check with their Human Resources representative to determine testing obligations. Employees who have tested positive through the University in the last 90 days for COVID-19 and have informed Occupational Medicine are omitted from testing.

Employees who are working remotely 100% of the time can be exempted from testing and should complete the Full Remote Employee Form to request and exemption. Employees who need to request a temporary exception to the weekly testing should speak with their unit’s Human Resources strategic partner.

Staff testing compliance

Staff members who fail to fulfill their testing obligations will be subject to sanctions. Supervisors will be notified when a staff member fails to complete the weekly testing requirement and will first discuss the testing requirements with the employee. Employees who continue to disregard their testing requirements will be sent home and will be required to use paid vacation or personal time, if available, or will be placed on unpaid leave until the test is taken. Upon the employee’s return to on-site work, steps will be taken to document the violation using HR78, Staff Employee Failure to Meet Acceptable Standards of Performance, in consultation with their unit’s Human Resources strategic partner.

In cases of repeated noncompliant behavior, managers should discuss continued use of HR78 in consultation with their HR strategic partner, which could lead to termination of the employee.

Instructor, researcher and faculty member testing compliance

A separate compliance and sanction process is in place for instructors, researchers and faculty members who do not comply with required testing. Academic unit heads or their designees will first have a conversation with the instructor, researcher or faculty member to remind them of the applicable policy, offer to provide any needed assistance to comply with Penn State’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and be reminded of the process that will occur as a result of continued noncompliance.

If an instructor, researcher or faculty member continues to fail to comply with required testing, the academic unit leader will discuss the situation with their Human Resources strategic partner and consult with the vice provost for faculty affairs, as needed, to decide how best to address the noncompliance. Sanctions may be imposed on an instructor, researcher or faculty member.

If an instructor, researcher or faculty member persists in their refusal to comply with required testing, the academic unit leader will again discuss the situation with their Human Resources strategic partner and consult with the vice provost for faculty affairs. The instructor, researcher or faculty member in question will be removed from their courses, placed on leave and prohibited from working on campus for the duration of the leave. Decisions to place an instructor, researcher or faculty member on continuing unpaid leave must be reviewed within seven days by a subcommittee of the Faculty Affairs Advisory Council, composed of two faculty members and one administrator charged by the vice provost for faculty affairs. Expectations, process and sanctions for graduate students serving as teaching assistants or instructors-of-record will be consistent with Graduate Council policies.

For full-time instructors, researchers or faculty members, substantial noncompliance may lead to disciplinary action up to and including initiating termination proceedings consistent with Academic Policy AC70 or contract termination. Faculty members may appeal sanctions in accordance with Academic Policy AC76 or request a review of sanctions from the vice provost for faculty affairs.

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TESTING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH SYMPTOMS //

Students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should seek out symptomatic testing through a University or local health care provider. Although more protected from serious illness, if at any time vaccinated individuals experience COVID-19 symptoms, they should still seek testing to minimize spread of the virus.

Visit the Health Guidelines page to learn more about steps you should take if you feel sick, or if think you may have been exposed to the virus.

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VOLUNTARY TESTING //

Penn State is continuing to offer voluntary COVID-19 testing for any student or employee, including vaccinated individuals, who are asymptomatic of COVID-19 but want to be tested because of possible virus exposure or other reasons.

Voluntary Student Testing

Voluntary COVID-19 testing is available for any student taking in-person classes or living near a Penn State campus, regardless of vaccination status.

At University Park, drop-in voluntary testing is available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday at the White Building for students living on or near campus. Individuals who are being tested should bring their mobile phone and Penn State id+ Card to the testing site and plan to spend at least one hour on site for the full testing process.

At all Commonwealth Campuses, student tests will be distributed by the student health center or designated office, or ordered through the mail via the Vault Health mail-in test kit. Students should contact their campus student health center or office of student affairs for more information.

Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated.

Voluntary Employee Testing
All employees may seek testing through their health care provider or other local COVID-19 testing options.

At any Penn State location, employees working on campus may order a Vault Health mail-in test kit. Voluntary testing is available to employees even if they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Employees working on campus at University Park also may utilize the drop-in testing available on campus. However, they are strongly encouraged to use the at-home, Vault Health mail-in test kit as the best test option. Employees who utilize the drop-in testing at the White Building should bring their mobile phone and Penn State id+ Card to the testing site and plan to spend at least one hour on site for the full testing process.

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QUARANTINE TESTING //

Asymptomatic students who are not fully vaccinated and quarantining because they have been identified through contact tracing as a close contact of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to receive a COVID-19 test during day 5-7 of their quarantine. Per guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asymptomatic, unvaccinated students with a negative test on or after day five of quarantine will be permitted to end their quarantine after seven days. Instructions for testing will be communicated directly to quarantined students.

Fully vaccinated students will receive instructions from contact tracing if they are identified as a close contact.

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Testing and support

Contact Occupational Medicine (Occ. Med.) at psuoccmed@psu.edu or call 814-863-8492. If you are a Technical Service employee, please contact your supervisor who will then contact Occ. Med. 

Penn State students who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and those who have not shared with the University that they are fully vaccinated will be required to test weekly for COVID-19 throughout the fall semester, or until they share with the University that they have been fully vaccinated.

Students who fail to test by the weekly deadline will receive an email with a warning that the student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and be placed under a registration hold, which prohibits future course registration, if they fail to test within the required time window a second time.

Students who fail to test within the required window a second time during the fall semester will immediately be placed under a registration hold and will be referred to Student Conduct. More information on registration holds is available online.

Students who fail to test a third time within the required window during the semester will immediately be placed on interim suspension. The student’s instructors will be notified of the interim suspension and the student will not be permitted to enter any campus building or participate in any class, activity or program of the University, including Penn State football games. In addition, students living on campus who are placed on interim suspension must vacate their residence hall. The interim suspension will be lifted if the student gets tested; however, the Student Conduct process will continue.

There will be additional accountability for students who continue to disregard their testing obligations after their third instance of noncompliance. At the conclusion of a formal student conduct process, the student may face consequences up to and including immediate suspension from the University.

Additional details about required testing and consequences for noncompliance can be found on the Testing and Support page.

​Information on fall 2021 required COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated faculty and staff can be found on the Testing and Support webpage.

Yes, employees will need to complete the required testing through Penn State to be compliant.

For questions about COVID-19 topics at the University, faculty, staff, students and families across all Penn State campuses can contact the Penn State COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121 or submit an online contact form. Employees should contact the COVID-19 Call Center for questions related to the testing process. If you have questions related to the exemption or exception process, please contact your unit Human Resources representative. If you have submitted your status previously and received this email, please confirm by logging back into Salesforce and confirming your submission was completed. If you are having technical issues, please submit a ticket by clicking this link.

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