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COVID-19 Related Guidelines for University Offices 

Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct (OSC) supports University personnel as they seek to provide positive and safe learning environments for all students. In light of this and of COVID-19 requirements, these guidelines have been created for office environments and have been adapted from previous guidance addressing classroom-related behavior.  

Importantly, the University recognizes that race, ethnicity, gender expression, disabilities, and other visible and invisible social identities play a role in how University personnel experience environments and how they might intervene. Please consult Educational Equity’s parallel guidelines which, although targeted to the classroom environment, recommend protocols to address behaviors that may disrupt inclusive environments and disparately impact members of marginalized populations, in particular.

Related to COVID-19 requirements for Fall 2020, personnel should: 

  • Post requirements on the office’s website, if applicable, and through signage communicating specific behavioral expectations in the environment. These requirements should include masking and social distancing. Depending on the office layout and the nature of the work, personnel may add other requirements (e.g., directional guidance or remaining behind Plexiglas partitions).
  •  If possible, communicate the requirements in any email outreach or prior communication the office may have with students or other visitors.

If a student fails to adhere to the requirements, personnel should take the following steps, in quick succession: 

  • Remind the student, in a firm yet kind manner, of the requirements and the reason for them: safety. Ask the student to comply. If the student has forgotten a mask, offer one to the student, if available.
  • Remind the student that non-compliance is a violation of University requirements and of the Student Code of Conduct2 and ask that the student comply.
  • Ask the student to either comply or to leave the environment and the building immediately. You may consider providing the student with alternative methods of interacting with your office, if available and appropriate.
  • If the student fails to leave the environment, follow typical protocols related to managing disruptive students or those who are not adhering to office expectations (e.g., involve supervisor, ask student to move to another space to converse).
  • Should an emergency situation develop that you feel cannot be otherwise resolved, please consider calling 911 for assistance.

Personnel should: 

  • For students who failed to comply: Immediately file a report with the OSC. If the student’s identity is known or can be determined, the OSC will alert the student that they will not be allowed to return to that office until the matter is addressed through Penn State’s conduct process3. At the office’s discretion, the student may be given alternative options to interact or receive services remotely as the conduct process transpires.
  • For students who initially violated the requirement, but who chose to comply when addressed: Consider an email or other communication to remind the student of the requirement for interactions, but also to allow the student to explain the action in a way that might help mitigate it in the future.
  • For students who have forgotten their mask: Remind them to carry one with them at all times while on campus and to wear it in any campus facility. Also offer one to the student, if available.
  • Immediately communicate any referrals to the Office of Student Conduct to your supervisor.

University personnel should be confident that referrals to the OSC will be addressed, and they will have the University’s support as they reinforce Penn State’s requirements. 

Additional Resources and References

To access the full list of resources and reference for this document, or to print, you may download the full text.

This guidance is current as of August 3, 2020  and is subject to change or as additional information becomes available.