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Penn State To Start Spring Semester Remotely, In-Person Instruction To Begin February 15

Penn State will begin the spring semester remotely on January 19, and in-person classes will be delayed until February 15, President Eric Barron announced in an email to students Friday.

Residence halls and campus dining facilities will not be reopened for normal operation during the remote learning period.

“This decision was made following extensive analysis and scenario planning given worsening virus conditions nationally and across the state indicating predictions of rising hospitalization rates in the coming weeks,” the university said in a statement.

Students from all campuses are required to have a negative coronavirus test on file before returning to the campus community before February 15. Students who have a positive test on file with the university from within the last 90 days do not need to complete this testing. Self-test kits will be provided to students at no cost.

Barron reiterated that students are strongly discouraged from returning to campus, off-campus locations, and group dwellings during the four weeks of the remote period.

“We recognize the critical importance of a return to on-campus learning and are committed to bringing our students back to our campuses at the right time, and in accordance with state and federal guidance,” Barron said. “At that time, we intend to continue, and increase, our engagement offerings — both social and wellness related — for our students. We will share more about our return-to-campus plans in the coming weeks.”

Students who need housing during the remote period, including international students, can work with the university “on an individual basis” to make housing arrangements. Folks in that boat should contact their respective Housing offices.

Penn State has already announced its cancellation of spring break, and will add three non-instructional “wellness days” throughout the upcoming semester. These days will be held on Tuesday, February 9, Thursday, March 11, and Wednesday, April 7, and no classes will be held for undergraduate or graduate students.

You can read Barron’s full statement below:

Dear Penn State Community:

With the upcoming semester approaching, I would like to share with you the University’s announcement regarding our decision to begin the spring semester remotely on Jan. 19 and to delay the start of in-person classes until Feb. 15.

Penn State leadership has been in ongoing consultation with public health officials and faculty experts in epidemiology, medicine, infectious disease and public health. Given the worsening virus conditions nationally and across the state, and predictions of increased hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania in the coming weeks, we made this decision to best protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. Our decision is also in alignment with the recent health and safety recommendations for higher education institutions from Pennsylvania’s departments of Health and Education.

I urge you to read the announcement closely, in addition to this story that includes requirements for COVID-19 testing and steps all students who must return to a campus community before Feb. 15 need to take to lower the risk of bringing new COVID-19 cases into our communities.

We recognize the critical importance of a return to on-campus learning and are committed to bringing our students back to our campuses at the right time, and in accordance with state and federal guidance. At that time, we intend to continue, and increase, our engagement offerings — both social and wellness related — for our students. We will share more about our return-to-campus plans in the coming weeks.

I know you will have many questions about what this change means for you — we will have more to share in January for students, faculty and staff as you will hear from me and other University leaders about spring plans. Throughout the next month, I encourage you to check Penn State News and the University’s Virus Information site as we continue to provide updates.

I appreciate all of your efforts over the past months and ask everyone in our community to remember the seriousness of the virus, and to continue to wear masks and physically distance as recommended by public health officials.

Eric J. Barron

President, Penn State

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a junior biology major from York, Pa and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected]

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