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Penn State To Expand Student Activities For Spring Semester

Penn State will implement a four-phased plan to begin reintroducing in-person student experiences this semester, the university announced Monday.

The university will steadily increase the range of in-person activities based on demonstrated student compliance with health and safety requirements, successful virus mitigation, as well as federal and state guidelines. Virtual alternatives will remain available for students who are studying remotely.

“Our students want to return to abundant out-of-classroom activities, and we’re encouraging them to get involved, make friends and have the experiences that make Penn State so special,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “Nothing is more important to us than supporting their personal development in this way.”

Beginning in February, student organizations are encouraged to host in-person activities with prior approval that are overseen by Student Affairs staffers. Penn State and the University Park Allocation Committee will provide financial support to help student organizations reserve event spaces for their activities and rent audio-visual equipment to enable remote participation.

As the semester progresses, the four-phase plan will introduce new milestones towards greater in-person engagement. Some of these include:

  • Reopening Campus Recreation facilities with reduced occupancy. (Phase 1)
  • Expanding small-group programming in the residence halls. (Phase 1)
  • Permitting student organizations to reserve indoor tables in certain locations with appropriate restrictions. (Phase 2)
  • Allowing performing arts groups to practice within prescribed limits. (Phase 2)
  • Expanding facilities available to student organizations and seeking additional spaces for these purposes at the campuses. (Phase 2)
  • Placing tents at key locations to encourage outdoor activities as the weather improves. (Phase 3)
  • Increasing opportunities for modified student retreats on campus. (Phase 3)
  • Taking advantage of improving weather for expanded outdoor activities. (Phase 4)

A full outline of the four phases can be found here. Resources are also available to help student organizations host events, reserve spaces, and more.

Penn State said its phased plan will allow for increased in-person activities in exchange for responsible student behavior.

“While the dynamics of the virus and health and safety regulations will serve as the foundation for decision-making and programming, our students’ behavior also will determine whether we will be able to move forward with in-person activities,” Sims said. “The overwhelming majority of students are doing the right thing, particularly when provided the necessary guidance and support. However, we will hold students accountable and will not be able to proceed forward if they do not behave responsibly and honor the basic public expectations.”

More information about the phased plan and how to request an in-person event can be found on Student Affairs’ website.

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About the Author

Grace Cunningham

Grace is a junior advertising major and one of Onward State’s social media editors. She is also a co-host of our podcast, Podward State. Grace hails from Chatham, New Jersey—no, she doesn’t know Snooki, and yes, she will fight you if you tell her that Pennsylvania bagels are good. Grace loves buffalo chicken, the Yankees, and watching Cake Boss. Follow her on Twitter @gecunningham7 or email her at [email protected] if you can get her an internship.

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