Testing and Support

Last updated Feb. 26, 2021

What you need to know about testing

  • Penn State is adjusting its spring 2021 COVID-19 testing strategy to increase the use of walk-up testing among students and implement additional rapid testing at the various testing locations on the University Park campus. This adjustment emerged through COVID-19 Operations Control Center monitoring that shows active student use of walk-up testing has proven to be an important mitigation factor that can be expanded. More information on walk-up testing can be found in the on-demand testing section below.

  • Vaccination status does not exempt students or employees from participating in the testing for COVID-19.

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 spring 2021 COVID-19 testing strategy for all campuses that includes both required and voluntary testing during the remote learning period and the in-person portion of the spring semester. The plan is designed to be flexible to allow the University to pivot and adjust as circumstances change.


Students who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should seek out symptomatic testing through a University health care provider.

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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At University Park, walk-up testing is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the Hintz Family Alumni Center, and will be available at the Pegula Ice Arena beginning on March 1.

Walk-up testing is available for students who are identified in the University’s contact tracing process or who believe they may have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. It doesn't matter if they have testing last month, last week or yesterday -- if a student is concerned that they may be at risk, they are strongly encouraged to come get tested again. Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated.

University Park employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database may also utilize the walk-up testing. However, they are strongly encouraged to order an employee Vault Health mail-in test kit, when possible.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, testing processes are defined for each campus and are typically administered by the local health center or other designated area. Specific details and hours can be obtained on campus through the campus Student Affairs office.

Opt-in testing remains available for Commonwealth Campus employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database via an employee Vault Health mail-in test kit.

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Beginning March 1 (at the conclusion of the universal required re-testing period during the first two weeks of in-person learning), the University will conduct random testing of between 1% and 2% of the University’s population of students and employees living, learning or working on campus as well as those who access campus. This includes all employees who are working on campus and students who are taking in-person classes or living within 20 miles of a campus. Students and employees who are selected to participate in random testing are required to complete a COVID-19 test, with a few exceptions.

Random testing will be conducted using PCR tests. At University Park, random testing will be conducted at the Mount Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium and at 101 North Atherton St., the former FedEx Office (Kinko’s) building.

At the Commonwealth Campuses, random testing for both employees and students will be conducted either through Vault Health mail-in tests (employee mail-in test order form | student mail-in test order form), or through Vault Health tests distributed on campus. Locations on other Penn State campuses will vary and will be communicated directly to those selected to participate in random testing.

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Asymptomatic students who are 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 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.

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Testing and support

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days and are not in a current isolation period, you have developed antibodies to the virus and your next test result could continue to appear as positive, even though you are no longer symptomatic or contagious.

Students who have a positive test result in the myUHS portal from within the last 90 days do not need to participate in required University testing and should not seek testing within this time period. Students, except for World Campus students, can upload evidence of a positive third-party COVID test from within the last 90 days. Negative test results may not be uploaded.

If you received a positive result from a test administered by Penn State, your result is on record with the University and you do not need to submit it through myUHS.

The University will continue to follow all virus mitigation guidelines from local, state and federal government and public health authorities. Testing will continue to be available under the University’s spring testing plan through May. More information on the testing strategy for the summer and fall will be communicated as the testing plans are finalized. It will continue to evolve as circumstances warrant and capabilities are enhanced.

All COVID-19 testing data is stored in software/databases that are approved for this level of information, per Penn State’s Information Assurance and IT Security Policy (AD95) and Privacy Policy (AD53), and in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws. Testing data is only shared to inform individuals of their status, and as necessary to accomplish legitimate business purposes/needs, including, but not limited to, diagnostics, treatment, contact tracing, and public health and safety activities.

Vaccination does not exempt students, faculty and staff members from participating in the University’s COVID-19 testing programs this spring. The vaccine is a tool in our fight against COVID-19, and students and employees must continue to practice other mitigation efforts, like wearing a mask, hand-washing and physical distancing.

Additional information about the vaccine is available in this Penn State News article.

The sampling rate for random testing, which is between 1% and 2%, is calculated at the campus level and is based on the total number of employees in the return to work database and the total number of students that have an in-person component to their academic schedule or are living within 20 miles of campus.

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