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Penn State to start semester in person, as planned  

University Park, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania will begin the spring semester as planned, with classes and in-person activities as scheduled while continuing health and safety protocols in place. The University will continue to closely monitor conditions around University Park and the Commonwealth Campus and will change its plans if necessary. Additional and/or improved protocols may be added in the coming weeks to reflect the conditions surrounding the omicron coronavirus variant.

As previously announced, the university leadership has been monitoring the capacity of local hospitals, the spread of the coronavirus omicron variant and local, state and national epidemiological conditions considering whether the university will start class in person or start remotely.

On the advice of the Penn State COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC), Penn State leadership has determined that, at this time, conditions do not call for a transition to distance learning and other activities to begin the classroom.

“Our students, faculty, and staff have a very high vaccination rate, and we test weekly those who have not been vaccinated and continue to require face masks to be worn indoors,” said Penn State President Eric Barron. “With these measures in place, along with hospitalization data and what we’re learning about omicron, we believe we can safely, but carefully, return to classes and on-campus activities as planned.”

“I urge all of our students to order a free mail-in Vault Health testing kit to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus so they can isolate at home if they test positive for COVID-19. Any student or employee currently can order up to to 12 sets of Vault Health tools for home use,” said Kelly Woolgast, Director of COCC. I want to emphasize that students at all campus locations can take action now to request a test and complete it next week to see their health before returning to campus.”

“We will prioritize student testing over the weekend at University Park,” Woolgast said. “At University Park, the entrance testing site for the White Building will open on relocation on the weekend, January 7-9, and students, both residential and non-residential, who have not taken a COVID-19 test prior to arriving on campus will be strongly encouraged to get tested Quick in the white building upon arrival.”

Students who test positive will be contacted using university testing resources via contact tracing. Students who test positive using external testing resources should refer themselves to contact tracing through myUHS or by calling 814-863-8800.

Penn State students who did not share university proof that they have received a full COVID-19 vaccination will continue to test weekly for COVID-19 throughout the spring of 2022.

Under the federal contractor’s vaccine mandate, all employees on all Pennsylvania State campuses are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have approved medical/disability or religious housing. This authorization requirement is currently subject to injunction and will not be enforced by the state of Pennsylvania on January 4. However, the injunction could be lifted in the near future. In the meantime, Pennsylvania will continue existing testing protocols already in place.

Students with symptoms of COVID-19 should seek symptomatic testing through a university or local health care provider, and should isolate contact and contact the university who will advise on isolation and quarantine requirements. Employees showing symptoms are expected not to come to work and must notify their supervisor immediately. Despite the most protective protection against serious illness, if vaccinated individuals ever develop symptoms of COVID-19, they should still seek testing and contact a medical professional who will advise on isolation and quarantine requirements.

Woolgast said the university has extensive quarantine and isolation space for students on campus and is in the process of adjusting quarantine and isolation operations to align with the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Our community needs to be aware of these new CDC guidelines, and I also want to stress that it’s very important to continue to practice good hand hygiene, wear an appropriate mask, and most importantly, get vaccinated, including Get a booster injection.”

With the advent of the omicron variant, the university strongly encourages all students, faculty, and staff to obtain COVID-19 booster shots as soon as possible, which studies show protects against severe illness from the omicron variant.

While conditions vary by region and community, at this time, Pennsylvania’s work corresponds to nearly half of its Big Ten peers. The latest information on the university’s response to the pandemic can be found on the coronavirus information website.

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