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Penn State Considering Bringing ‘Select Student Groups’ Back To Campus This Summer

Penn State is reportedly discussing bringing a small number of students to campus for second summer sessions while meeting Governor Tom Wolf’s requirements, the university announced Thursday night.

The discussions follow new guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Wednesday, which provided suggestions for universities and colleges as they attempt to return to normalcy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The decisions Penn State has made in response to the coronavirus have always been based on the best science, data and public health guidelines available, with the health and safety of our campus and local communities as our main priority,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “As we continue our deliberate and measured approach to returning to campus, we are taking initial steps to bring back select, small groups of students later this summer.”

Barron added he’s surveyed administrators at Commonwealth Campuses around the state for input on which student groups they feel would be appropriate to gradually return to campus this summer.

Penn State announced Thursday it would begin returning student-athletes to campus on Monday, June 8. The phased approach would begin with 75 football student-athletes and eventually see representatives from other teams trickle in later this summer.

Yvonne Gaudelius, Penn State’s assistant vice president and senior associate dean for undergraduate education, added “a number of factors” are being considered to help decide what student groups could potentially return in phases in the coming months. Gaudelius said the university is examining who’d need access to specialized facilities, what benefits students would have upon returning, and what academic programs benefit from on-campus learning.

“We are focusing on programs that are specialized, some that may require facilities that are only available on a campus, or necessitate clinical experiences, or programs that are dependent on interactions between the cohort of participants,” Gaudelius said. “For example, the physical therapy assistant programs where they need specialized clinical facilities and equipment.”

According to Gaudelius, campus administrators will provide additional plans and information on who they think should return to campus. Soon, they’ll be reviewed in detail and subjected to final approvals.

Despite the reported discussions among administrators, Barron cautioned these steps are merely preliminary and don’t signify any decisions relating to the upcoming fall semester.

“I understand our community is looking forward to hearing a more fulsome plan — specially for fall — and we’ll have more details and specifics on June 15,” Barron said.

Penn State will announce its plans for the fall semester by Monday, June 15, if not earlier.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. His favorite shows include Community, Seinfeld, and Arrested Development, and he'll probably talk your ear off about them. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

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