University Status

University Status:

Hybrid learning

Penn State classes at all campus locations continue in their regularly scheduled mode of instruction for the spring 2021 semester. More information about plans for summer and fall instruction is in the Plans for Future Semesters section below.

Here's what you need to know to have a successful remainder of the spring semester.

Testing requirements for students >
Course modes and health requirements >
On-campus housing and dining >
Plans for Future Semesters >

At home testing kit for Penn State University

Testing requirements for students

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. Learn more about Penn State's spring testing plans and requirements on the Testing and Support page.

Course modes and health requirements

Penn State remains committed to providing students with a robust learning experience during the spring 2021 semester. All classes are being delivered in their regularly scheduled delivery format. Courses are being offered via one of the following instructional modes, as indicated in LionPATH:


  • 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.

Student health and safety is the University’s highest priority, and students are required to follow all University health guidelines, including:


  • Wearing a face mask at all times in campus buildings, and outdoors when you can’t be physically distant from others.

  • Practicing physical distancing.

  • Avoiding large gatherings.

  • Complying with all testing and contact tracing requests.

As of March 1, the University’s spring testing plan includes on-demand testing for students and on-campus employees, and random daily surveillance 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.

For Students

Resources are available to help you return to campus for in-person learning on our Students and Families page. There you will find important information on academic support, student services, housing and dining, wellness and more.

For Faculty and Staff

Visit the Faculty and Staff page for resources and tools designed to help faculty to deliver their courses either in person or in a remote or mixed-mode format; to learn more about working on campus and working from home; for links to information from Human Resources; and more. On-campus research-related activities continue to operate according to their established safety procedures.

On-campus housing and dining

Visit the Housing and Dining page to find information and resources about Penn State's plans for on-campus housing and dining for the remainder of the spring semester.

Plans for Future Semesters

Penn State is planning a phased return over the summer semester to a full on-campus learning environment for fall 2021. The University’s priorities continue to be the health and well-being of its students, faculty, staff and local communities, and the plans for expanded in-person classes have the flexibility built in to quickly respond to changing pandemic conditions, if necessary.

The University is preparing for a variety of scenarios if circumstances or guidance from the government and public health authorities requires a reassessment of the plan before the start of the summer and/or fall semesters. Expanded in-person learning is contingent on the latest health and safety guidelines, including physical distancing requirements, as they are adjusted over the summer and fall in response to the state of the pandemic.

Penn State will share additional information on this website and elsewhere in the coming weeks and months about course registration and other aspects of its operations, including opportunities for engagement outside of the classroom.

Summer 2021

The summer semester will again use Penn State’s COVID-19 instructional modes, but will maximize the number of in-person courses based on space utilization, including continued use of non-traditional spaces for instruction – such as event spaces and outdoor tents – and the public health guidance at the time. In addition to in-person courses there will be some remote options, both synchronous and asynchronous.

Fall 2021

The fall semester will more closely resemble Penn State’s in-person instructional experience, while continuing to offer a full range of web classes. Classes will be scheduled using the University’s non-COVID modes of instruction.

Future instructional impacts

Based on what has been learned about student and faculty needs and preferences, some asynchronous courses — in which students engage with instructors and course material on their own time — will continue to be offered in the summer and fall.

Latest updates

Penn State was allotted nearly $85 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II as part of the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), which was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020. As prescribed by law, at least $27.5 million of Penn State’s allocation will be awarded to students in the form of emergency financial aid grants, matching the dollar amount Penn State students received last year under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Penn State will again distribute the student grants via two rounds of funding. In the first round, the University will award grants to more than 23,000 students. These first-round grants prioritize students with exceptional financial need, as required by the CRRSAA, based on data from the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who are Pell Grant-eligible will each be offered $1,200, and all other students identified for an award will be offered $1,000 each.

The University also will award grants via a second round of funding that will use an application process to support students in need who were not identified to receive funding during the first round. Details about this application-based second round of funding will be shared broadly in the near future.

Governor’s guidance

Orders issued by Gov. Tom Wolf that took effect on April 4, 2021, amend previous COVID-19 orders related to maximum occupancy for gatherings. (Note: The order does not apply to classrooms, per the Pennsylvania Department of Education.)

Scope

The guidance below applies to any Penn State-sponsored event, either on or off campus. At this time, events organized or sponsored by organizations external to Penn State are not permitted on campuses. In general, meetings and events should be held remotely if feasible. Local ordinances may supersede state guidelines.

Student organizations

Student organizations wishing to hold an event or meeting should consult with the Office of Student Activities (University Park) or the chancellor’s office (Commonwealth Campuses) regarding student meeting/event policies and the procedures for requesting to hold a meeting or event.

Indoor meetings and events

Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the governor’s orders regarding maximum occupancy. Requests for indoor meetings and events with more than 10 participants at no more than 25% of maximum occupancy must be submitted for approval to the unit executive* (see “Approval process” below). Masks and 6 feet of distance among attendees are required.

Outdoor meetings and events

Meetings and events of 10 or fewer participants are permitted with no prior permission required, with masks required and taking into account the governor’s orders regarding maximum occupancy. Requests for outdoor meetings and events with more than 10 participants at no more than 50% of maximum capacity must be submitted for approval to the unit executive* (see “Approval process” below). Masks and 6 feet of distance among attendees are required.

Approval process

Meeting/event organizers requesting permission for an indoor or outdoor meeting or event of more than 10 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 COVID-19 regulations. Masks and other required PPE must be worn both indoors and outdoors and plans for abiding by physical distancing guidelines must be included.

— If the event is on campus, work with the Office of Physical Plant to determine the maximum room/venue capacity in order to determine the maximum number of attendees.

— Keep a list of all attendees, the locations from which non-employees are traveling, and their telephone numbers for contact purposes.

— Check with the unit’s HRSP (human resources strategic partner) to determine whether employees at the meeting should be entered into the Return to Work database.

— Provide evidence that the meeting organizers have worked with relevant campus leadership to ensure that the gathering is in compliance with local ordinances pertaining to COVID-19.

— Attendees who are not employees or students are required to sign an Acknowledgement of Risk document (View PDF version of the acknowledgement of risk document | Download DOCX version of the acknowledgement of risk document) when feasible, in advance of their arrival if possible. If the unit wishes to make changes to this document other than to add the unit name, it should contact the Office of General Counsel.

Attention to COVID rates in other areas

Meetings that include participants from states with high levels of COVID-19 should only be permitted if there are special circumstances and with unit executive approval. All Penn State employees must follow existing travel guidance. All meeting and event attendees from outside of Pennsylvania must follow Pennsylvania’s “COVID-19 Information for Travelers” 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. Campus chancellors should elevate meeting requests to the Office of the Senior Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses.

As of April 13, all Pennsylvania adults are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to sign up to get the first vaccine available to them as soon as a dose is available. The Department of Health website features a map of vaccine providers that includes hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

As of April 13, all Pennsylvania adults are eligible to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. Penn State is strongly encouraging all students, faculty and staff to sign up to get the first vaccine available to them as soon as a dose is available. The Department of Health website features a map of vaccine providers that includes hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

For now, we are strongly encouraging everyone in our community to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible and a dose is available. We are continuing to monitor developments and vaccine availability carefully and may alter our approach in the future if it is determined to be in the best interest of our community or called for by public policy. More information will be forthcoming through the Pennsylvania Department of Health (which is overseeing the vaccine distribution) and the University, and as we weigh the pandemic’s continuing impact on our communities. To learn more, visit the Vaccine Information page.

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