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.
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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.