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Penn State Requiring Students To Agree To ‘Coronavirus Compact’ Pledge

Penn State will require students to electronically agree to a pledge that allows the university to test individuals, enforce public health protocols, and implement other coronavirus mitigation efforts.

The compact, which appears before students attempt to log in to LionPATH, implores students to follow public health guidelines and ultimately assume “any and all risk” of contracting the coronavirus at Penn State.

“As we return to in-person experiences in our campus communities during the ongoing pandemic, we must acknowledge the responsibility we all share,” the message reads. “Every members of our University community, including you, must strictly follow fundamental public health requirements and the measures Penn State deems necessary to encourage well-being and safety for all. Our return is tenuous and could be brief. Its success depends on each of us doing our part.”

The message laid out a number of requirements students must follow, including cooperating with mask-wearing orders, undergoing random surveillance coronavirus testing, and maintaining proper distance from others.

“The compact is the essential expression of the University community’s commitment to the welfare of all its members. It demands of students their individual and collective attention to the health and safety of all with whom they share our campuses and communities,” Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, said. “By agreeing to the basic requirements and expectations expressed in the compact, each student acknowledges the risks involved and declares their personal determination to do what they must to support a return to in-person experiences that is as safe and sustainable as possible.”

The agreement specifically notes that a student’s failure to abide by its requirements could lead to disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion from Penn State.

The compact ends with a particularly blunt statement students must agree to. It states students must assume “any and all risk of exposure to COVID-19 that may result from attending Penn State, or participating in Penn State activities” and acknowledge “that exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, or death.” Additionally, it implies Penn State’s coronavirus mitigation efforts may not be wholly effective.

The full agreement can be viewed below:

I acknowledge that the Centers for Disease Control, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania State University have issued rules and precautions that may, or may not, be effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and that it is my responsibility to follow these and other directives to protect myself and others from the substantial risks posed by this virus. I assume any and all risk of exposure to COVID-19 that may result from attending Penn State, or participating in Penn State activities, and I acknowledge that exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, or death.

I acknowledge that the Penn State Student Code of Conduct outlines sanctions, including suspension or expulsion from the University, that may be imposed should I fail to comply with reasonable directives from University or other officials, including the requirements stated above. And I affirm that I will deliberately engage in practices that discourage the spread of coronavirus.

I understand that I must consult with the Office of Student Disability Resources, if I have a medical or other condition that may affect my ability to adhere to the commitments stated above, and that reasonable accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If, at any point, I am unable to sustain these commitments to my fellow students and our community, I shall remove myself from the campus and complete the semester remotely. If I do not choose to take this step, I understand that I shall have forfeited the privilege of remaining on campus, and that the University may, in the interest of public health and safety, take administrative action to prohibit me from participating in any in-person campus activities, including residing in residence halls, attending classes, or joining any other pursuit that otherwise would be available to me.

In short, I recognize that I may forfeit my opportunity to continue as a student at Penn State if I fail to honor these critically important public health considerations with the sincere and earnest spirit in which they are expressed.

“I know the challenge these circumstances present, but I also know our students’ ability to take responsibility both for themselves and each other,” Sims said. “If ever there was a time for them to do so, now is that time. We will do all we can to encourage that outcome, and we expect them to do all they can to make it so. We are in this together.”

Before students return to campus, they’ll need to agree to the Compact, carefully read through its contents, and self-isolate at home for at least seven days. Additionally, more than 24,000 students will be required to take at-home coronavirus tests that will be mailed out in the coming days.

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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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