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Penn State Provides Fall Semester Pre-Arrival Guidelines For Students, Faculty

Penn State provided additional information about fall semester move-in and arrival during a virtual town hall Thursday.

President Eric Barron, alongside other administrators, outlined the university’s plans for the fall semester and requirement individuals will need to follow as the prepare to return to campus in the coming weeks.

First, Penn State will test approximately 30,000 students, faculty, and staff for the coronavirus through saliva tests sent by mail. According to the College of Medicine’s Dr. Kevin Black, these tests will be sent to students’ homes with proper shipping information to be sent to a laboratory once the test is finished.

These tests will be sent to Vault, a private lab, seven to eight days before Penn State’s return to campus. Those who test positive won’t be allowed to return to campus until they’re cleared by a health care professional. However, it’s unclear at this time how these measures will be enforced, particularly for students living off campus.

“Focusing on individuals returning from high disease prevalence provides us the opportunity to begin the semester with a far lower number of asymptomatic but COVID-positive individuals on campus, which is essential to allowing the campuses to remain open throughout the semester,” Black said.

Black added pre-arrival tests will be prioritized for individuals living in “high-risk” areas around the country where coronavirus cases may be more prevalent. Each test will come with detailed instructions on how to administer the trial at home.

Those who don’t receive a test in the mail will be among the first to take part in Penn State’s surveillance testing, which involves approximately 700 daily tests of asymptomatic individuals. They’ll be electronically notified to head to a designated location on campus to take a test.

Eventually, surveillance testing will shift toward random testing of approximately 1% of the university’s population each day.

Penn State also plans to quarantine and isolate affected students using 400 single-occupancy rooms in three Eastview Terrace residence halls and implement a “robust” contact-tracing process to identify and test individuals who may have been in close contact with a known positive case.

Additionally, Penn State is asking students to quarantine at home for at least seven days before returning to campus. Administrators said on-campus move-in will begin on August 17 for freshmen and August 21 for upperclassmen. Penn State hasn’t yet provided additional details for move-in but is expected to publish plans within the next few days.

All students will be required to read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH once it’s published in the near future. The agreement gives Penn State the right to test them for the coronavirus and enforce policies such as mask-wearing and social distancing on campus. Students are also advised to review those guidelines before returning to campus.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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