Remote Classes Beginning; Critical Information for Community

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Dear Penn State Community:

As you know, communities around the globe are facing unprecedented challenges as coronavirus continues to spread. It remains our goal to take the necessary, active steps to confront this public health threat and manage our risks.

In light of this situation, and in the best interests of the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and our local communities, Penn State has decided to move to remote learning for all classes beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, April 3, with a plan to resume in-person classes on Monday, April 6, at the earliest. For faculty and staff, the University will remain open, however there are additional details below regarding specifics. 

  • The continuity of class delivery is critical to the success of our students. All in-person classes, seminars and labs will be delivered remotely for students at every campus location. The College of Medicine will soon announce consistent protocols that reflect the unique mission of that unit and its relationship with the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State Health. Penn College will also announce separate guidance for its community.
  • During this three-week period following spring break, undergraduate and graduate students at all campus locations are strongly discouraged from returning to campus, off-campus locations, and group dwellings (e.g., apartments and fraternities), and should return to, or remain at, home during this time period.
  • For international students who are already on campus, and students who must return to campus due to extenuating and/or compelling circumstances, we will work with you on an individual basis to make special visit or housing arrangements. Students should contact their campus Housing office, and contact information is available at:
  • Please also be aware that residence halls and campus dining facilities will not be reopened for normal operation during this remote-learning period (beyond the facilities that are already in use). For students who need to retrieve belongings, arrangements for temporary access can be made. Students should contact their campus Housing office, and contact information is available at:
  • For those students who do not have access to a computer and/or the internet from home or from alternate locations, we will assist you in getting access from computer labs at campus locations. Please contact the IT Director at your campus or the IT Service Desk ( at University Park to determine computer lab availability or for more information about those arrangements and the available locations.
  • All on-campus student-sponsored events and activities, such as student organization meetings, will be postponed/canceled until April 6, at the earliest. Please reach out to Student Affairs with further questions. This direction is applicable to all other locations, including gatherings at off-campus locations.
  • All non-essential events should be canceled, rescheduled or offered virtually through April 6, regardless of the size of the event. No new non-essential events should be scheduled. For essential events that are expected to have more than 50 attendees, approval must be sought from Provost Nick Jones (

While there are no known cases of coronavirus at University Park or Penn State’s campuses at this time, there are currently more than 1,000 cases throughout the United States, including in Pennsylvania, and we anticipate this figure will continue to grow. The best mechanism for prevention based on advice from experts is social distancing, and unfortunately that is very difficult in a university setting. We fully understand these changes will cause disruptions in your day-to-day lives; Penn State’s decision was made out of an abundance of caution and with your health and the well-being of our entire community in mind, and as Pennsylvania is currently under a state of emergency. Penn State has been following federal and state guidance, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

This action represents a significant interruption of normal business practice for our community, not only from a logistical standpoint, but also in the ways we embrace a sense of community, teach our classes, gather together, create new knowledge and share in our differences and similarities. However, we know that community infection is a primary mode of transmission and we need to do all we can to protect those around us, including those who may be more at risk or vulnerable to this virus. If there was ever a “We Are” moment, this is it. We need to come together in the full spirit of the phrase, support one another and stand up for what we believe: The importance of community.

We know that you will have specific questions and concerns about how this ongoing situation will impact learning, teaching, housing, and other factors in the coming weeks. I encourage you to bookmark and continue to visit, for the latest updates and information, including an extensive FAQ. From this site you will be able to access critical information — specific for student needs online, and directions for faculty and staff. 

Guidance on remote learning for students and faculty:

  • If you’ve never taken an online course, visit
  • To support students learning virtually, faculty and staff are encouraged to work with students to provide digital course materials for those who may not have access to their textbooks or course materials during this period.
  • Graduate students should refer to graduate specific information on the Graduate School's website:
  • As communicated before spring break, there is information provided by Teaching and Learning with Technology and Undergraduate Education to help faculty move and teach classes remotely using online resources like Canvas. If you have specific questions, please contact your department head or division director.

Information for faculty and staff:

  • Our employees across every campus are vital to the success of our institution and we will do everything we can to support them during this time.
  • As appropriate, supervisors will work with their staff to accommodate telecommuting for staff members whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule. Employees should talk to their supervisor and unit HR to discuss their telecommuting options.
  • Faculty and staff are expected to stay home if they feel sick. Faculty and employee supervisors are asked to be flexible when it comes to missed classes and work. For faculty and staff who are at a high risk for complications from contracting the coronavirus and/or have specific health concerns, please reach out to your immediate supervisors and/or your Human Resources Strategic Partner. 

We will continue to strive to answer your questions and communicate regularly with the University community in the coming hours, days and weeks, including guidance related to large gatherings. Stay tuned for more information about a virtual town hall, which will provide time for students, faculty, staff, parents and others to ask questions and hear from University leaders about this situation.

While you may not be with us here on campus, we would continue to reiterate that all in our community follow CDC guidance regarding the best ways to prevent illness — avoiding contact with those who are sick and practicing personal hygiene and social distancing. You may see additional messages on our social media channels on these topics and we encourage you to share these with those around you to promote health and well-being.

Thank you for your support and for being flexible given the circumstance our world is facing, and for working together to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus within our community.

Events are unfolding rapidly, so please continue to watch for communications from Penn State, as the plans outlined above could change. For the latest updates and information, visit Students, if your questions are not answered at or, please reach out to

Eric J. Barron

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