Campus Life

Updated universal masking, PPE guidance for instruction spaces now available

The second round of recommendations are now  available on the Keep Teaching website  for Penn State instructors teaching in-person and mixed-mode classes this fall. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Through research and testing with an instructor-led approach, the Academic Matters Coronavirus Task Force dedicated to making recommendations on the use of universal masking and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for instructors has launched the second phase of evolving guidelines for classroom and laboratory settings, as well as other teaching spaces. The second round of recommendations are now  available on the Keep Teaching website  for Penn State instructors teaching in-person and mixed-mode classes this fall. 

The document provides recommendations for universal masking and other PPE use, and for applying the University’s safety policies in  different teaching and learning environments and modes of delivery. It also includes step-by-step guidelines for mask and other PPE use and care. 

Along with the initial recommendations that were released in July, the University announced that it had purchased an additional 1.5 million procedure masks for instructor use for in-person teaching. In addition, to meet specific teaching and learning needs across the University, more than 14,000 face shields and 8,000 clear masks will be available. These PPE purchases are on top of the  500,000 face masks for the University community that were previously announced.

Updates to the document include guidance on: 

  • Instructional Laboratory Settings 

  • Performance Settings (Music/Vocal/Theater) 

  • Close Contact Settings (Nursing/Physical Therapy/Allied Health) 

  • Small Group Work (Capstone/Labs) 

  • Outdoor Settings and Field Experiences 

  • Third-Party Settings (Clinics) 

  • Disability and Special Considerations (Individual Teaching and Learning Needs/Language Instruction) 

The document also includes guidance on classroom cleaning and disinfection, question/answer and instructor/student engagement interactions, and policy enforcement. 

“With the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students at the forefront, our group continues to evaluate the safety and audibility of masks and other PPE in various environments coupled with other tools and critical factors to create the safest and most effective teaching and learning environments for instructors and students,” said Keefe Manning, professor of biomedical engineering and co-chair of the task group, along with the University’s director of Environmental Health and Safety, James Crandall. “The recommendations are meant to be a reference guide for how best to apply the overarching University safety measures, policies and procedures – such as universal masking requirements – in different learning environments.” 

One tool, for example, is the “COVID-19 Symptom Checker” recently released on the Penn State Go mobile app that instructors may choose to use in small group instruction to check that students are symptom free before entering these learning environments. The symptom checker is available as part of the app for download by students and faculty and staff

The recommendations will continue to evolve as more is learned about COVID-19, and faculty are encouraged to bookmark the document link and return to it frequently prior to the beginning of fall classes. Additionally, for the most up-to-date University safety policies, visit

Questions for specific teaching circumstances may be directed to individual unit executives and unit-level pandemic safety officers. 


Last Updated August 10, 2020