UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Nov. 17 identified new mitigation strategies the state is taking to slow the spread of COVID-19, including heightened masking and travel requirements. On Nov. 23, Governor Tom Wolf and the Department of Health issued another order strongly advising against travel within and outside of Pennsylvania.
All faculty, staff, students and parents should familiarize themselves with the Nov. 17 order before traveling.
Beginning Friday, Nov. 20, and until further notice, Pennsylvania will require anyone who visits from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before entering the commonwealth or, if an individual cannot get a test or chooses not to be tested, that individual must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.
Additionally, Pennsylvanians who are visiting other states are required to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before their return to the commonwealth or to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Pennsylvania.
- For students and parents: This order does not apply to “individuals in transit through the Commonwealth to another destination, provided that the time spent in the Commonwealth is only the amount of time necessary to complete the transit, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make necessary travel connections,” according to the order. Individuals in transit through the commonwealth to retrieve a student from a Penn State campus are encouraged to spend only the time necessary at the campus to complete this activity, make use of travel services, such as a highway rest stop, or make any necessary travel connections.
- For student workers/graduate students: This order does not apply to individuals who have been approved to travel to and from another state or country for work or medical treatment.
- For employees: This order does not apply to individuals who have been approved to travel to and from another state or country for work or medical treatment.
- Employees should contact their supervisors with any questions regarding expectations for the remainder of the year and for the upcoming spring semester. For employees whose duties require them to keep working on campus, the University will follow health and safety measures, which include the strengthened masking guidelines, practicing social distancing and other similar actions.
- Penn State has suspended all University-affiliated international travel until further notice, and also strongly discourages personal travel abroad by Penn Staters. Absent exceptional circumstances, Penn State is not approving requests to work remotely while living in another country. Employees approved for University-affiliated travel are expected to return to the U.S. by their approved return date and must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours before their return to the commonwealth or if an individual cannot get a test, must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Pennsylvania.
- Free testing for students and employees approved for on-campus work: Walk-up testing will be available at the Hintz Family Alumni Center for all University Park campus students — living either on or off campus — and for employees listed in the University’s Return to Work database from noon to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Nov. 30 through Jan. 18. On-campus students will need to test weekly while living in the residence halls. Regular use of the walk-up testing site is strongly encouraged for any student living off campus. Prior to Nov. 30, employees in the Return to Work database at University Park can opt to receive a Vault Health mail-in kit for asymptomatic testing. Commonwealth Campus employees in the Return to Work database can opt to receive a Vault Health mail-in kit through Jan. 11, 2021. For students at Penn State Altoona, Behrend and Harrisburg campuses, walk-up testing will be available to all students, living on or off campus, from Nov. 30 to Jan. 18. Walk-up testing will be available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with hours varying by campus. Students at all other Commonwealth Campuses can opt to use the Vault Health mail-in kit.
More information and FAQs about travel restrictions are available on the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.
Strengthened masking order
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announcement also strengthens the masking requirement the state already has in place. New requirements include:
- Masks are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home.
- When outdoors, a mask must be worn if you are not able to remain physically distant (at least 6 feet away) from someone not in your household the entire time you are outdoors.
- When indoors, masks are now required — even if you are physically distant from members not in your household. This means that even if you are able to be 6 feet apart, you must wear a mask while inside if with people other than members of your household.
- In line with current University policy, employees on campus are not required to wear a mask when working alone in their individual office and isolated from interaction with other people “with little or no expectation of in-person interaction,” according to the order.
More information will be shared with the community about the University’s post-Nov. 20 plans on Penn State’s Virus information website by end of week.