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What You Need To Know About Penn State’s ‘Universal’ COVID-19 Testing

Penn State will conduct COVID-19 testing of all University Park students between February 15 and 26, the university announced Monday morning.

The process will apply to all students who are enrolled in in-person classes or are learning remotely while living in Centre County or within a 20-mile radius of Penn State’s campus.

Penn State’s universal testing is not an alternative to its pre-arrival testing for the spring semester. Both rounds of testing are required for all students returning to campus.

“The universal re-testing of all students is a key component of our spring testing strategy and will allow us to assess how the virus is spreading on our campuses and isolate cases quickly,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC). “It’s vital for students to participate in all of the required testing and understand that this retesting does not take the place of the required testing prior to the start of on-campus classes.”

According to the university, students will receive an email on February 9 providing instructions on scheduling a testing appointment. Penn State will host testing clinics from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the White Building.

At the testing site, students will take a rapid antigen test and wait there for about 15 minutes to receive their results. Penn State said students should generally plan to be on site for about 30 minutes.

Should a student test positive throughout this process, they’ll immediately receive a secondary test to confirm the positive test and move into isolation while waiting for results. Those who receive a negative result are free to leave, but another positive will require students to complete a 10-day isolation period.

Students will have just 48 hours to book their appointments, but they’re encouraged to schedule as soon as possible to find a slot that fits their routines. Plus, students who sign up early and complete their tests could receive a “terrific t-shirt” featuring words from Penn State’s Alma Mater.

Penn State said it won’t accommodate walk-ins due to its large volume of testing.

Most notably, students who miss their appointment or don’t book one won’t be allowed to participate in any “Penn State classes or activities” until they’ve rescheduled. At this time, it’s unclear how Penn State would enforce that policy.

Students should bring their Penn State IDs to their testing appointment and avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum in the 30 minutes leading up to it. As always, mask-wearing and social distancing are required at all times.

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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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