Campus Life

Having an event or large gathering? University updates protocols

Latest directives released on events and large gatherings for University community and third-party organizers

Old Main's clock tower. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has released updated guidance and procedures for hosting events and large gatherings both on and off campus beginning June 28 until the return to on-campus work on Aug. 16. Currently, the University continues to encourage virtual or hybrid-format events and meetings.

Beginning on June 28, the University will relax masking and physical distancing mandates for vaccinated faculty, staff, students and visitors when indoors or outdoors. However, unvaccinated individuals are expected to continue to wear face masks whenever inside University buildings, per Penn State policy. 

Notably, the time frame between June 28 and the fall is a transition period for University facilities, offices, faculty and staff. Penn State leadership will continue to evaluate existing policies and protocols  leading up to the in-person fall 2021 return to campus and release any necessary new guidance before the start of the semester.

Event procedures before June 28

The processes for holding an event before June 28 apply to student-organized events, Penn State-sponsored events and on-campus events sponsored by outside entities. 

University units or organizations interested in hosting events or gatherings must first receive approval from their unit executive. For outdoor venues, unit leaders may authorize greater capacity than the current limits indicate. More information on the events approval process is available here.

For student organizations and student-run events, the Office of Student Activities for University Park campus events or the campus chancellor’s office for Commonwealth Campus events will provide approvals. Processes for holding an event are available online via Student Affairs.

Third-party and external entities that wish to hold an event should start the approval process by contacting the University unit responsible for sponsoring the event or gathering. University events or gatherings will receive priority before external entities. More information on the events approval process for external entities is available here.

Event procedures beginning June 28 

Beginning June 28, the approval process for holding events or gatherings will return to the individual or group that held approval authority before the pandemic.

It is important to note that facility coordinators may be flexible in granting approvals and should use their best judgment in terms of participant safety and staffing ability – keeping in mind that the safety and health of the Penn State community are top priorities.  Those approving events should consult with unit leadership regarding questions for permitting specific events or gatherings.

Guidelines for consideration include: 

  • Units must communicate information about what participants can expect at events and gatherings;
  • Communication should clearly state that unvaccinated attendees must wear masks when attending indoor events, per Penn State policy. This language should be communicated before the event and posted via signage at the location during the event;
  • The organizer must identify cleaning protocols for the space in use. Good hand hygiene, masking for unvaccinated individuals and receiving a vaccination are paramount in reducing viral spread; 
  • The acknowledgment of risk form is no longer required to be completed by participants. However, there may be activities, such as youth camps and other events with participants under the age of 18, in which a signature is necessary;
  • Visible acknowledgment of risk signs should be at all venues indicating that those in attendance understand that COVID-19 is still present in our communities and they assume the risk of possibly contracting the virus by attending the event; 
  • Planners should seek to reduce the risk of contact by using digital tickets, cashless concessions; and digital programs or handouts;
  • Planners should still maintain a list of attendees and their contact information whenever possible in the event that contact tracing due to an infected individual in attendance must be undertaken.

The updated event and gatherings guidance emphasizes that organizers must follow existing COVID-19 safety procedures as outlined by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the University’s COVID-19 website and Penn State’s Return to Work website.

Last Updated August 12, 2021