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Penn State COVID-19 Compact

We are aware of the anxieties and uncertainties members of our community are experiencing, and have provided a compact that outlines the University’s health and safety requirements and guidelines established for a return to on-campus learning (e.g., wearing masks, physical distancing).  As part of the compact, we are requiring that students commit to following these health and safety steps, and to acknowledge the risks of exposure to COVID-19 that exist even with the mitigation steps taken by Penn State and their compliance with the compact.  We feel it is important that students and families understand there is COVID-19 risk, everywhere in our daily lives, and to reinforce the importance of following the public health guidelines established by the state and public health experts for the return to campus learning. Penn State has committed to meeting and exceeding the guidance of health experts, and has provided educational offerings that include remote only learning options for students and families, as part of our efforts to be flexible in meeting their needs and concerns.

What if students haven’t entered LionPATH prior to arriving to campus?

Penn State will be reaching out to students who have not agreed to the Compact prior to the beginning of the semester to encourage completion. 

What is the purpose of the Penn State COVID-19 Compact?

Promoting health, safety, and mutual respect is a shared responsibility that all members of the Penn State community must take seriously in order to maintain safe, in-person education and work experiences. The Penn State COVID-19 Compact outlines a series of actionable guidelines to which all students, even if fully remote or online, must adhere. The Compact is a pledge which indicates that students have read, understood, and have agreed to upholding each of the referenced requirements and understand the additional guidelines.  

Why have I been asked to acknowledge the Compact?

Every student at every Penn State location has a responsibility to promote health and safety at the University. Confirming that you have read the compact verifies that you acknowledge this responsibility. Without the cooperation of all members of our community, the success of in-person operations will be significantly impacted.  

Why is the compact in LionPATH?

LionPATH is the primary vehicle that students use in the process of being a student. Hence, it provides the best platform for students to access and to read the health and safety expectations of being a member of our campus community. In order for the return to campus to be as safe as possible, it is essential that students are aware of the ways we are working to reduce the spread of the virus and that they understand the expectations for their own behavior.   

Why did all students receive the Compact? I am a World Campus student or intend to study remotely this semester.

While not all elements of the compact may apply to students studying online or remotely, we also know that there are students who will be taking all classes remotely or through World Campus and are also in our campus communities and may be using facilities and attending programs on campuses. Hence, it is important for all students to understand these expectations.  However, the updated Compact is clear that it does not apply to students who are only enrolled in an entirely remote learning experience, will not be on any Penn State campus, and will not reside or visit communities surrounding any Penn State campus. However, if students do reside in or visit any Penn State campus or surrounding community for any reason and for any period of time, the terms and expectations of the Compact will apply. 

What is the longevity of this agreement?

The COVID-19 Compact encompasses public health and safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and is consistent with the state’s guidance for universities in providing for a return to learning on campuses.  It may be updated or change to remain consistent with public health and state guidelines as they evolve. 

How are students hearing about the Compact? How will they know to go into LionPATH?

The University's news story about the Compact has been shared widely with faculty, staff, students and parents through Penn State News, Penn State Today and various official Penn State social media platforms. Additionally, the Compact was posted on LionPATH as it is the primary vehicle that students use in the process of being a student. Hence, it provides the best platform for students to access and to read the health and safety expectations of being a member of our campus community. 

If I already acknowledged the Compact, do I need to re-acknowledge it for spring 2021?

Students only need to acknowledge the Compact one time; however, it is expected that you remain committed to the basic public health mandates expressed in the Compact. Your acknowledgment of the Compact remains throughout your time with Penn State. 

New, incoming spring 2021 students will need to acknowledge the Compact and will be directed to do so in LionPATH.   

What is Penn State doing to protect the health of its community members during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Following an extensive comprehensive planning process involving more than 250 faculty, staff and administrators across 16 task groups, Penn State officials have set plans in place which meet or exceed the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s guidelines for colleges and universities to return to campus. Specific information can be found on the University’s Virus Info website, including information on pre-arrival plan, virus testing and contact tracing, personal safety requirements, and more.

Per the Compact guidelines, am I required to get a flu shot?

The first section of the compact contains requirements for students, including being tested, cooperating with contact tracing, complying with isolation and quarantine instructions, wearing face coverings, honoring social distancing, and following guidance such as signage, postings, and emails. The second section of the compact are important recommendations such as getting a flu vaccine when it is available. While it is not a requirement, we urge you to follow this guidance.  

The Compact says to stay home and seek medical care when I am feeling ill. For what symptoms should I be looking?

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. If you feel sick, do not come to campus. Please visit the link above for more information on the range of COVID-19 symptoms. 

How will additional guidance regarding public health at the University be communicated to students?

The website virusinfo.psu.edu contains the most up-to-date information for Penn State community members regarding COVID-19. Other critical and timely communication will be shared via Penn State email, Penn State Today, Penn State News, LionPATH, the Penn State GO app, and various official Penn State social media platforms.

What if I disagree with and/or refuse to accept the terms outlined in the Compact?

The public health requirements and guidelines outlined in the compact have been established with public health recommendations in mind and by Gov. Tom Wolf’s requirements for higher education institutions. These requirements and guidelines apply to every member of the Penn State community.  Failure to accept the terms of the Compact in LionPATH will prevent you from engaging in any other function through LionPATH, including adding/dropping classes or seeing your schedule.  Failure to adhere to the requirements may subject you to disciplinary action, including suspension or expulsion from the University.  

Am I required to agree to the Compact within LionPATH?

Students who do not complete the Compact in LionPATH will not be able to perform any other function in LionPATH including registering for courses or changing their schedule.

What if I don’t want to sign this compact because I disagree with the acknowledgment of risk language?

Signing the Compact is required for a return to campus learning.  We are aware of the anxieties and uncertainties members of our community are experiencing, and have provided a compact that outlines the University’s health and safety requirements and guidelines established for a return to on-campus learning (e.g., wearing masks, physical distancing).  As part of that compact, we are requiring that students commit to following these health and safety steps, and to acknowledge the risks of exposure to COVID-19 that exist even with the mitigation steps taken by Penn State and their compliance with the compact.  We feel it is important that students and families understand there is COVID-19 risk, everywhere in our daily lives, and to reinforce the importance of following the public health guidelines established by the state and public health experts for the return to campus learning.