Campus Life

Unvaccinated students, employees must test weekly through fall for COVID-19

Consequences for not complying with required testing include suspension, termination

Students and employees who have not shared with the University that they are fully vaccinated will be required to test weekly for COVID-19 throughout the fall semester. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State students, faculty and staff who are not vaccinated for COVID-19 and those who have not shared with the University that they are fully vaccinated will be required to test weekly for COVID-19 throughout the fall semester, or until they share with the University that they have been fully vaccinated. For students, this includes vaccination status verification by University Health Services (UHS). This testing applies to students taking in-person courses and employees working on campus; World Campus students who are fully remote and employees working fully remotely are exempt from the required testing.

Significant consequences are in place through the Office of Student Conduct and Human Resources for those who do not comply with the required testing, up to and including separation from the University.

Required testing for students starts the week of August 23; the testing start for employees will be finalized next week and is planned to start soon after the student testing begins.  

The University continues to strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and to share their vaccination status with the University as soon as possible. Everyone who can get a vaccine should do so as soon as possible to attain high vaccination rates on all Penn State campuses.

Students at University Park, Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccination records through myUHS, and employees and World Campus students can share their vaccination status through Salesforce Health Cloud.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are widely available across the commonwealth and near our campuses, and getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your community,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of the COVID-19 Operations Control Center (COCC). “For those who choose not to get a vaccine, weekly testing is an important tool to help us identify cases quickly, prevent case clusters and mitigate viral spread. It’s not too late to start the vaccination process, which will exempt students and employees from this testing requirement as soon as they are considered fully vaccinated.”

University Park student testing
At University Park, students who are required to test will receive a weekly notification email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu with instructions on how to schedule a testing appointment on campus. Appointment confirmation emails will be sent to students when they schedule their appointment and will include information on how to reschedule appointments. Students are encouraged to make their appointment for testing as soon as possible after receiving the email in order to have the most options for test times.

Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be referred to quarantine. Contact tracing staff will communicate with all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Commonwealth Campus and Dickinson Law student testing
Commonwealth Campus and Dickinson Law students who are required to test will receive a weekly notification email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu with instructions on how to schedule a test pickup appointment on campus or complete a mail-in COVID-19 test from Vault, a third-party vendor. During the first week of classes, students should expect the testing email to arrive midweek and will have a defined period (based on how the tests are distributed) to complete the test. During the semester, the testing emails will be distributed on a recurring basis with details of test completion deadlines.

The type of test — on-campus or mail-in — varies from campus to campus and can depend on whether the student lives on or off campus. Students who must test should follow the instructions in their testing email.

Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be referred to quarantine. Contact tracing staff will communicate with all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of their vaccination status. 

Student compliance
Students who fail to test by the weekly deadline will receive an email with a warning that the student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and be placed under a registration hold, which prohibits future course registration, if they fail to test within the required time window a second time.

Students who fail to test within the required window a second time during the fall semester will immediately be placed under a registration hold and will be referred to Student Conduct.

Students who fail to test a third time within the required window during the semester will immediately be placed on interim suspension. The student’s instructors will be notified of the interim suspension and the student will not be permitted to enter any campus building or participate in any class, activity or program of the University, including Penn State football games. In addition, students living on campus who are placed on interim suspension must vacate their residence hall. The interim suspension will be lifted if the student gets tested; however, the Student Conduct process will continue.

There will be additional accountability for students who continue to disregard their testing obligations after their third instance of noncompliance. At the conclusion of a formal student conduct process, the student may face consequences up to and including immediate suspension from the University.

University Park employee testing
Faculty and staff at University Park who are working on campus and have not shared with the University that they are vaccinated for COVID-19 will receive a weekly email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu. The email will notify them that they must get tested within the week and will include instructions on how to schedule a testing appointment on campus. Appointment confirmation emails will be sent to employees after they schedule their appointment and will include information on how to reschedule appointments. Employees are encouraged to make their appointment for testing as soon as possible after receiving the email to have the most options for test times.

Employees who test positive must enter isolation and will not be permitted to return to on-site work until they have completed an isolation period that meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. COVID-19-positive staff employees will be expected to use accrued sick, vacation or personal time (if available) or be placed on an unpaid leave status for the absence to cover any time off until they are released to return to work by Penn State Occupational Medicine. Employees may work remotely during the isolation period (with approval from their manager) if their symptoms are mild and their position allows. Contact tracing staff will communicate with all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of their vaccination status. Instructors, faculty members and researchers are expected to work with their academic unit leader to determine how to best cover their responsibilities if they test positive and enter an isolation period.

Staff who are represented by a union should check with their Human Resources representative to determine testing obligations.

Commonwealth Campus and Dickinson Law employee testing
All required faculty and staff testing at Commonwealth Campuses and Dickinson Law will be conducted using mail-in COVID-19 test kits from Vault Health, a third-party vendor. Faculty and staff who are required to test will receive a weekly email from PSUCOVIDtesting@psu.edu. The email will notify them that they must request and complete testing each week and will contain instructions on how to complete a Vault mail-in COVID-19 test. The email notifications will be sent on a recurring basis with details of test completion deadlines.  

Employees who test positive must enter isolation and will not be permitted to return to on-site work until they have completed an isolation period that meets Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. COVID-19-positive staff employees will be expected to use accrued sick, vacation or personal time (if available), or be placed on an unpaid leave status for the absence to cover any time off until they are released to return to work by Penn State Occupational Medicine. The employee may work remotely during the isolation period (with approval from their manager) if their symptoms are mild and their position allows. Contact tracing staff will communicate with all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of their vaccination status. Instructors, faculty members and researchers are expected to work with their academic unit leader to determine how to best cover their responsibilities if they test positive and enter an isolation period.

Staff who are represented by a union should check with their Human Resources representative to determine testing obligations.

Staff testing compliance
Staff members who fail to fulfill their testing obligations will be subject to sanctions. Supervisors will be notified when a staff member fails to complete the weekly testing requirement and will first discuss the testing requirements with the employee. Employees who continue to disregard their testing requirements will be sent home and will be required to use paid vacation or personal time, if available, or will be placed on unpaid leave until the test is taken. Upon the employee’s return to on-site work, steps will be taken to document the violation using HR78, Staff Employee Failure to Meet Acceptable Standards of Performance, in consultation with their unit’s Human Resources strategic partner. 

In cases of repeated noncompliant behavior, managers should discuss continued use of HR78 in consultation with their HR strategic partner, which could lead to termination of the employee.  

Instructor, researcher and faculty member testing compliance
A separate compliance and sanction process is in place for instructors, researchers and faculty members who do not comply with required testing. Academic unit heads or their designees will first have a conversation with the instructor, researcher or faculty member to remind them of the applicable policy, offer to provide any needed assistance to comply with Penn State’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies, and be reminded of the process that will occur as a result of continued noncompliance.

If an instructor, researcher or faculty member continues to fail to comply with required testing, the academic unit leader will discuss the situation with their Human Resources strategic partner and consult with the vice provost for faculty affairs, as needed, to decide how best to address the noncompliance. Sanctions may be imposed on an instructor, researcher or faculty member.

If an instructor, researcher or faculty member persists in their refusal to comply with required testing, the academic unit leader will again discuss the situation with their Human Resources strategic partner and consult with the vice provost for faculty affairs. The instructor, researcher or faculty member in question will be removed from their courses, placed on unpaid leave and prohibited from working on campus for the duration of the leave. Decisions to place an instructor, researcher or faculty member on unpaid leave must be reviewed within seven days by a subcommittee of the Faculty Affairs Advisory Council, composed of two faculty members and one administrator charged by the vice provost for faculty affairs. Expectations, process and sanctions for graduate students serving as teaching assistants or instructors-of-record will be consistent with Graduate Council policies.

For full-time instructors, researchers or faculty members, substantial noncompliance may lead to disciplinary action up to and including initiating termination proceedings consistent with Academic Policy AC70 or contract termination. Faculty members may appeal sanctions in accordance with Academic Policy AC76 or request a review of sanctions from the vice provost for faculty affairs.

The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing requirements and the University’s continued response to the pandemic can be found on virusinfo.psu.edu.

Last Updated September 07, 2021