Penn State classes at all campus locations have transitioned to 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.
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.
Now that in-person learning has resumed, the University’s spring testing plan includes post-arrival testing within the first two weeks of the semester for all students, on-demand testing for students and on-campus employees, and random daily surveillance testing of approximately 2% of the University’s population of students and employees living, learning or working on campus, as well as those who access campus.
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.
Stay Healthy, Fit and Informed
- University Health Services (UHS) and campus health centers are open. Visit the UHS website or contact your Commonwealth Campus health center for hours of operation.
- Students and employees who are seeking information about University-provided COVID-19 testing should visit the Testing and Support page for full details.
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is operating with normal business hours, with services offered via virtual format during the pandemic. To get started, call CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a conversation or contact your campus’ counseling services.
- The Penn State Crisis Line is available 24/7 to students at all campuses at 877-229-6400 or by texting “LIONS” to 741741.
- Campus Recreation has re-opened select facilities. Information about available facilities, health and safety protocols, and registering for a workout session are available on the Campus Recreation website. Information about virtual fitness programming also is available.
- Health Promotion and Wellness has a variety of virtual and in-person health and wellness events planned for the spring semester, as well as free access to a dietitian for healthy eating strategies.
- Stay up to date on the latest University news by reading Penn State News and Penn State Today.
- The COVID-19 Response Center is available at 814-865-2121 for COVID-19-related questions.
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.
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.
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 remote synchronous — in which students attend virtually at a scheduled time — and asynchronous — in which students engage with instructors and course material on their own time — courses will continue to be offered in the summer and fall.
The University will continue to follow all virus mitigation guidelines from local, state and federal government and public health authorities. During the summer semester, residence hall occupancy will continue to be limited to two occupants per room, and to the extent possible, single rooms will be provided to students who are immunocompromised or at higher health risk. Information on residence halls and the arrival schedule for the fall semester will be communicated closer to the fall semester.
The University’s priorities continue to be the health and well-being of its students, faculty, staff and local communities, and the plans for substantially expanded in-person classes have the flexibility built in to quickly respond to changing pandemic conditions, if necessary. Penn State is committed to notifying students, faculty and staff as quickly as possible if conditions require the University to pivot to a remote or hybrid teaching and learning model.
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.
As Penn State’s priority is the health and well-being of its students, employees and local communities, 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.
The health and safety of our employees remains our priority, and the University is mindful that individual circumstances may make some faculty members or members of their household more vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Our expectation is that faculty members who are able to teach in person will return to the classroom, but a committee is currently being formed to define the exception process.