Pre-departure COVID-19 testing at the Bryce Jordan Center, COVID-19 saliva test

A completed coronavirus saliva test kit at the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

Penn State released the spring semester coronavirus testing plans on Jan. 18 for the remote learning period and for the return to in-person classes on. According to the plan, all students must be tested before returning to campus and in-person classes.

Prior to returning to campus, students must receive a negative coronavirus test result from Vault Heath.

I returned to on-campus housing earlier this month after applying for a contract through the remote-learning period housing website, and I followed the necessary steps that all students must before returning and resuming in-person classes.

First, each student will receive a self-testing kit at no cost after logging into the “Know Your Status” Portal for initial testing.

Through the portal, students can request a kit to their home address to ensure they file a negative test within 72 hours of returning to campus. I received my test a day after ordering one from the portal.

Once the test kit is delivered, students log into the portal to take their test on Zoom with a Vault Health proctor. Overall, the test itself takes less than 20 minutes.

The test kits come with a prepaid UPS shipping label that should be sent back five days before students plan on returning. I sent mine back the same day and then waited for my test results to be posted.

If a student has a previous positive test result from the last 90 days on file with the university, they will be allowed to return.

If they have tested positive from a third party, they can upload the results for approval before being allowed to return. Negative results from a third party provider will not be accepted.

Once the results are up, students are able to check-in to on-campus housing at their respective commons desks or resume in-person classes.


Students who are on campus during the remote period must get tested once a week while they are here, but the majority of students will return to campus the weekend of Feb. 13-15. This means they should plan on sending back their kits around Feb. 8.

Students should plan to order their coronavirus test kits the week of Feb. 1 to receive it on time for the start of in-person classes.

Once back on campus, university-wide testing is required during the first two weeks of in-person classes. Any student who is taking in-person classes or who is fully remote and taking an online course load within a 20-mile radius of a Penn State campus must get tested.

At University Park, room 126 of the White Building will become a testing station every day of the week for the first two week period. Then, throughout the semester, walk-up and mail-in testing for those identified by Penn State’s contact tracing system will be available at the Hintz Alumni Center and Pegula Ice Arena.

The university will resume random surveillance testing of 2% of the population of students and employees who have access to campus on Mar. 1.

Testing will be done through PCR tests — nasal swabs — at the Mount Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium, 101 N. Atherton St. and the former FedEx Office — Kinko’s — building.

"Still, it will take our entire community – students, faculty and staff – working together and taking proper health precautions to be successful in our efforts to maintain in-person activities,” Penn State President Eric Barron said in a statement regarding the plans.

For more information about the initial testing and transition back to campus, check the university’s website.

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