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Penn State To Return To In-Person Instruction August 24

Do you believe in miracles?

Penn State will officially return to in-person instruction this fall, the university announced Sunday night as part of it its “Back To State” plan. Classes will begin as scheduled on Monday, August 24.

Campus-based instruction will end on Friday, November 20. Students will finish the semester, including final exams, remotely when it resumes on November 30 following Thanksgiving break. The fall semester will conclude as planned on December 18.

“I am pleased that the hard work of our task groups over the last few months has led us to this plan that will allow us to bring our campus communities back together,” Penn State President Eric Barron said. “The Penn State experience may look somewhat different this fall, but I am very much looking forward to seeing our campuses busy with students, faculty and staff once again. I know I speak for the leadership at each of our campuses when I say we are looking forward to welcoming our students back and greeting, for the first time, our new students.”

Additionally, Penn State will hold classes on Labor Day to minimize student travel and lower possible virus exposure risks over the long weekend.

All classes with more than 250 students will be delivered online or remotely. Campuses will individually determine how to conduct smaller classes and announce plans at a later date, Penn State said.

The university will also employ “a robust testing and contact-tracing program” to test symptomatic individuals for the virus and conduct asymptomatic tests on those identified in the process. Penn State said it will hire additional staff to work on contact tracing as needed.

Individuals will be required to wear masks and follow social distancing procedures on campus. Back in May, Barron said Penn State had already acquired 500,000 masks and 2,500 hand sanitizer stations to place across its locations. 

All students who’ve exhibited coronavirus symptoms or were exposed to the virus are asked to take precautionary steps before coming back, including self-quarantine and seeking testing. Penn State is also building “capacity” to isolate and quarantine “impacted individuals” to deliver medical care.

“Co-curricular learning is an important component of the college experience, and I’m pleased that our students will be able to come back together,” Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, said. “To do so safely and effectively, we need everyone to do their part and employ simple preventative measures. It’s evident that this is vital to keeping our community healthy and together on our campuses.”

Penn State joins many notable universities in returning to in-person instruction, including Syracuse, Pitt, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. Unlike Penn State, most universities will return to campus a few weeks earlier than planned and wrap up classes around Thanksgiving break before taking finals online.

Earlier this month, a Penn State survey found approximately 86% of students felt comfortable returning to campus in the fall. The majority of students also cited they’d be willing to follow social distancing procedures and wear face masks to classes upon their return.

On March 11, Penn State moved the remainder of its spring semester online due to the virus. Spring sports, events such as Movin’ On and the Blue-White game, and in-person commencement ceremonies were also canceled.

To date, 78,798 Pennsylvanians have contracted confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus. Centre County has reported 167 cases and six deaths.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

By day, Matt is a senior majoring in journalism. By night, he's Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football lover, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza and "Arrested Development" quotes. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ if you hate yourself or email Matt at [email protected] if you hate him.

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