Penn State Revoking Canvas Access For COVID-19 Testing Non-Compliance

Penn State plans to prevent students from accessing Canvas if they fail to comply with required weekly COVID-19 tests this spring, according to an email sent to faculty on January 11.

Students who miss a required weekly COVID-19 test and attempt to log into Canvas will be redirected to an information page providing testing instructions. However, it’ll take an hour or two for Canvas access to restore once required testing is completed.

Previously, non-compliant students were placed on interim suspension if they missed three consecutive weekly COVID-19 tests. In a memo to faculty, Penn State administrators said such a process was “very labor-intensive.” Now, with Canvas lockouts as the default non-compliance sanction, the university expects to take immediate action against non-compliant students since the process is automated.

Considering Canvas houses most students’ assignments, course materials, syllabi, class communications, and more, losing access to it would throw a wrench in any student’s academic plans. However, unlike an outright suspension, losing access to Canvas wouldn’t necessarily prevent non-compliant students from still attending in-person classes, or even those on Zoom if they’ve already got the access link.

To accommodate revoked Canvas access, Penn State said students can receive immediate access for emergencies through a one-time, one-week grace period via the university’s COVID-19 Call Center. The university says this, combined with clear communication, should prevent students from missing out on much.

“A disruption in Canvas will not typically lead directly to student absence from class, but there is certainly the potential for it to disrupt the ability of a student to meet an academic deadline,” a mass email to faculty reads. “By starting the process early in the semester, providing all students on automatic grace period upon request, and having mechanisms to allow students to return to compliance quickly, the expectation is that few students will face long-term disruption of their learning.”

Among the student population, only those who haven’t submitted proof of vaccination are required to get tested for COVID-19 each week. Testing is completed at the White Building, whose site is open on the following schedule:

  • Mondays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Fridays: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturdays: noon to 5 p.m.
  • Sundays: noon to 5 p.m.

According to Penn State’s COVID-19 Dashboard, about 89.7% of University Park students are vaccinated against COVID-19. The reporting tool doesn’t provide information about booster shots, nor does the university ask for it.

Over winter break, Penn State reported a 14.5% positivity rate among University Park students and employees. From January 3 to 9, it observed 394 total positive tests — the most in a week since early January 2021.

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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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