Penn State Fall Semester 2020 COVID-19 Information
- Penn State is testing and tracking the number of positive COVID-19 cases at all campuses on their COVID-19 Dashboard.
- Individuals who believe they might have COVID-19 symptoms can schedule a test through University Health Services. More information can be found under the section “COVID-19 Testing” at the UHS website.
- For University Park students who self-identify as having COVID-19 exposure or who have been identified by the contact tracing process, a Vault Health testing site is available on the lower level of the HUB Parking Deck. This is a temporary test site to address current needs and may be extended beyond mid-September if the need continues. Graduate students should proceed to the basement level between 10AM-5PM if they have experienced close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual (at least 10 minutes within 6 feet). No appointment is necessary at this time.
- Resources for individuals who are teaching this semester can be found at the Keep Teaching website.
- Students and employees who are learning, working or living on campus will be selected randomly and contacted by email and text message to answer a few screening questions and to schedule an appointment at University Park or to participate in their campus location’s specific surveillance process. If selected, students and employees are required to complete the free testing and should plan to do so within 48-72 hours after being contacted.
- Changes regarding graduate student policies due to COVID-19 can be found at the GraduateSchool COVID-19 website.
- Additional information can be found at either the Penn State Coronavirus information website or at their Back to State page.
The Nature of the Situation
Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is a novel coronavirus disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness, that is believed to have emerged in seafood and poultry in 2019 . Generally, coronaviruses are viruses that can affect both humans and animals, although these viruses are more commonly found in certain groups of animals. In some cases, the virus can mutate and infect humans, such as with SARS-CoV (2002-2003) and MERS-CoV (2012) . When in humans, the virus can cause varying responses, from mild respiratory issues, similar to the common cold, to more severe respiratory issues, like pneumonia.
There are currently no vaccines to prevent human coronaviruses, but there are steps that you can take to help prevent the spread of infection:
- Stay at home as advised
- Wear a face mask if you go out
- Practice physical distancing (keep at least 6 feet distance between you and others)
- If you need medical care, be sure to call first
- Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds
- Do not touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth)
- Stay home when sick and avoid sick people
- Clean surfaces often (Lysol, Bleach, and other EPA approved disinfectants listed here) 
- Follow your state / county / city stay-at-home orders
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
Remember, the steps we take now to help combat the spread of COVID-19 will help curtail infections and save lives.
Graduate and Professional Student Open Letter and Response
At the end of June, graduate and professional students at Penn State organized an open letter that was sent to University administration and prompted a response by July 6. The letter can be found here. A response from the Graduate School was received and can be found here.
Previous Updates on University Response
Penn State Town Halls (future Penn State Town Halls can be found at https://liveevents.psu.edu/)
- Virtual University Town Hall on fall semester plans on July 30. Recording: here.
- Virtual University Town Hall on return to campus plans on June 22. Recording: here.
- Virtual University Town Hall on the topic of return to work and campus on May 19. Recording: here. Penn State News story: here.
- Global Programs Town Hall on Tuesday, April 21 at 9am. Recording: here.
- Virtual Graduate School Town Hall on Thursday, April 9. Recording: here. Follow-up news story: here
Available Resources and Assistance:
The following additional resources were made available by the university and can be found here:
- The university is encouraging students with emergency needs at this time to apply for the Student Emergency Fund. We would encourage you to apply for the fund even if you are unsure if you qualify, and if you have additional needs beyond what the fund can provide, please reach out to GPSA. The application can be found here.
- Applications for second round of CARES act student emergency grants now open. Penn State News story: here.
Food Assistance & Lion’s Pantry
For students requiring assistance obtaining food, the official Lion’s Pantry hours have been updated to the following:
- Monday from 11 AM – 1 PM
- Tuesday from 9 – 11 AM
- Wednesday from 3 – 5 PM
- Thursday from 11 AM – 1 PM
- Friday from 1:30 – 3:30 PM
- Saturday from 12 – 2 PM
You can learn more about what Lion’s Pantry can provide as well as how to place orders for pickup ahead of time at https://thelionspantry.psu.edu/. If graduate and professional students (or anyone else in the community) are struggling to pay for groceries or other necessities, the Centre County COVID-19 Community Response also has resources available at https://cccovid19response.org/resident-to-resident-support/
CAPS has transitioned to virtual services during this time. For additional information or to speak to someone at CAPS, you can call (814) 863-0395, and for crisis services, visit the CAPS Crisis Intervention page at https://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/crisis-intervention.
Student Legal Services is additionally still helping students, and they are currently available for appointments through Skype and Zoom. In these times, they are attempting to tailor their services to provide more support for the needs of international students uncertain about their immigration status and what the remote period means for those students. An FAQ relating to international students and COVID-19 has also been posted here: https://global.psu.edu/covidintlfaq.
Parking & Transportation
Parking for Essential Personnel
On April 4, the Transportation Office announced they would be issuing prorated refunds via LionCash+ for Spring semester parking passes. Anyone looking to keep their parking pass for the Spring semester can find more details here. Funds can be withdrawn from your LionCash, for all students, with the $10 processing fee being waived at this time by filling out the form here.
At this time, parking regulations have returned to their previous state, and all on-campus parking regulations are in effect.
CATA Bus Service
As of August 22, CATA has made several changes to their bus routes on campus and throughout State College:
- Service will operate Monday through Saturday only, there will be no Sunday service on any routes.
- Service will operate on all routes until approximately 12:30 a.m. nightly. Monday through Saturday.
- The Blue Loop and White Loop will not operate.
- Additional capacity will be added to the Green Link
Additional changes affecting all routes can be found here.
Please refer to the CATA homepage for the most up-to-date information on changes to bus service (e.g. how you must enter the bus) and schedules.
Lyft Ride Codes Sponsored by GPSA
GPSA will be continuing to sponsor a limited number of ride-codes with Lyft to help graduate students get to vital area grocery stores and medical facilities. Please find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date information on ride codes for the Fall 2020 Semester.
Health Insurance Updates
On April 3, the student health insurance plan (SHIP) provider and university health services (UHS) have announced changes as a result of COVID-19:
- Students and their dependents covered through the SHIP who live within or outside of the United States will have no copays, deductibles, or coinsurance for treatments or testing related to COVID-19 through the national public health emergency period.
- Cost-sharing will be waived for medically necessary diagnostic testing (ordered by a licensed physician or other health care professional) from February 4, 2020, through the national public health emergency period.
- Cost-sharing will be waived for FDA-authorized antibody testing (ordered by a licensed physician or other health care professional) from April 10, 2020, through the national public health emergency period.
- Cost-sharing will be waived for visits to a health care provider’s office, urgent care center, emergency department, or through telehealth from February 4, 2020, through the national public health emergency period.
- If treatment occurs under a COVID-19 admission or diagnosis code, cost-sharing will be waived from February 4, 2020, through October 22, 2020. This includes office, urgent care, and emergency department visits, observation stays, inpatient hospital episodes, acute inpatient rehab, long-term acute care, and skilled nursing facilities.
- UHS is providing prescriptions by curbside pick-up & mail order (small fee to mail; currently restrictions on where they can mail)
- With the limit on in-person services at UHS, the referral restriction has been waived through December 31, 2020.
- Coverage for international students and their dependents has been extended to apply in their home countries through August 12, 2021. Claims can be submitted through the MyAccount page.
- SHIP is offering telehealth for medical and behavioral health. Visit the first student webpage or call the number on the back of your insurance card. UHS is offering telehealth services which will be covered 100%.
Mindfulness, Health, & Wellness
Mindfulness & Mediation
The University Fitness Center is offering guided meditation practices every Wednesday and Friday starting from the week of September 28 through November 16. The course includes a daylong retreat on November 7.:
Wednesday 5:15 to 5:45 PM
Brief teaching, guided mindfulness practice, and reflections
Led by: Shelly Ungemach
Meeting ID: 554 947 184
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,554947184# US (New York)
Friday 1 to 1:30 PM
Brief teaching followed by 10-15 minutes of movement and 10-15 minutes of meditation.
Led by: Michael Hayes and Shelly Ungemach, through the Cancer Institute
Friday link to join PSCI Community Mindfulness Practice Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 912 6634 2818
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,91266342818# US (New York)
TO REGISTER VISIT: https://pennstatehershey.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
The University Fitness Center webpage: https://ufc.pennstatehealth.
Facebook Events page www.facebook.com/
or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Penn State COVID-19 dashboard
- Exceptions to Graduate School Policies in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak homepage.
- COVID-19 Updates for Graduate Students homepage.
- University COVID-19 information homepage.
- Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 page.
- Centre County COVID-19 Community Response Website
GPSA Initiatives in Response to COVID-19
Resolutions/bills GPSA has passed during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- University Response to COVID-19- GPSA Concerns and Recommendations
- Statement of Support for the Coalition of Graduate Employees at Penn State COVID-19 Justice
- Joint Graduate and Professional Student Open Letter Approval
- COVID-19 Discrimination
- Second Call to Address Challenges Involving COVID-19
- Condemnation of COVID-19 Related Discrimination and Harassment against the Asian Community
- Call to Address Graduate and Professional Student Challenges Involving COVID-19
Assistance and Virtual Programs
- GPSA Virtual Trivia
- Grocery Assistance for Graduate and Professional Students affected by COVID-19
- Additional Funding of Takeout Meals from Local Restaurants
- Funding of Takeout Meals from Local Restaurants
- Workout Subscriptions for Graduate and Professional Students during COVID-19 response
- Funding of Lyft Rides to Grocery Stores and Medical Facilities
- Grocery Delivery for Graduate and Professional Students Affected by COVID-19
You may sign up for the GPSA Newswire to receive updates on-campus events and information by email email@example.com