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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Guide to returning to campus

This site serves as a resource for Penn State College of Medicine faculty, staff, students and postdocs as the college prepares to ramp back up its on-campus efforts. This site will serve as the most up-to-date, reliable information about coronavirus disease 2019, also known as COVID-19.

Current status: COM Phase 5 (effective March 29, 2021)

  • All on-site personnel must follow safety guidance including universal masking.
  • Laboratory research: Permitted to return to 100% capacity. It remains the PI’s responsibility to ensure the physical distancing policy (at least 100 square feet per person, which is approximately 4 feet between individuals) is strictly adhered to, along with all other safety precautions related to masking and hand hygiene, regardless of the vaccine status of lab personnel. The physical distancing requirement may prevent some labs from moving to 100% at this time.
  • Plan for rapid return to Phases 1 to 4 in place.
  • All research and large group meetings that can be done remotely are encouraged; however, small in-person meetings with protective face masks are permitted.
  • Small group research meetings need to adhere to masking, distancing and room occupancy restrictions.
  • Meetings or gatherings may be held in person with occupancy restrictions in place. Meetings must adhere to physical distancing and other guidelines and should not exceed the room capacity. Read the current meeting and gathering guidelines (in OneDrive; Penn State Access ID login required).

Working on campus in Hershey: What you must do

For all employees

The following guidelines apply to all College of Medicine employees planning to return to on-campus work.

To ensure a safe and successful transition back to campus, employees and their managers should be prepared to adhere to the following safety precautions before returning to work on campus.


Level 1 face masks – 3-ply procedure masks with ear loops – are required for all employees and students while indoors on campus, even those employees in administrative or non-clinical areas. Alternatively, KN95 or N95 masks can be used, but KN95 masks should not be used in the clinical environment. Cloth masks are no longer permitted unless worn over a level 1 mask.

View the current masking guidance.

One-time attestation required for new employees and students

All new Penn State College of Medicine employees and students will be required to complete a one-time attestation stating they will not enter any College of Medicine building or Penn State Health clinical area if they have symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, all new students or employees will be required to be vaccinated, participate in weekly testing or have an approved medical or religious accommodation.

Self-screening process

Faculty, staff and students no longer need to complete the online check-in process on med.psu.edu/checkin before entering campus buildings. Do not come to campus if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Employee quarantine guide

College of Medicine employees who are exposed to COVID-19 must follow this guide.

Requirements for managers

In addition to these measures, managers should also consult the Managers' Guide to Returning Faculty, Staff and Students to the Workplace developed by College of Medicine Human Resources and the COVID-19 Assessment/Reporting Instructions for Supervisors (both available in OneDrive; Penn State Access ID login required).

Work location decisions (on-site, fully remote or a hybrid) remain at the discretion of individual business units. Managers making these decisions should follow the Return to On-Site and Remote Work Guidance (in OneDrive; Penn State Access ID login required).

For those engaged in research

All research labs or research support offices with personnel working on campus must post the occupancy of their room or lab.

Find more details on policies related to research.

For all employees

Effective July 16, 2021, supervisors no longer need to complete the university's Return-to-Work Authorization for employees who will be working on campus.

If on-campus, all employees and students should continue to follow the daily check-in process by wearing a mask at all times and attesting to the lack of COVID symptoms daily at med.psu.edu/checkin.

On-campus safety guidance

Follow universal mask policy

Masks must be worn at all times when working in the College of Medicine, unless eating or drinking. (See mask policy.)

An icon shows the outline of a mask.

Practice social distancing

Keep 6 feet between people whenever possible - especially when unmasked for eating and drinking.

A graphic shows the outline of two people, spread apart by an arrow. The number 6 appears above the arrow.

Practice good hand hygiene

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when entering a room and before and after touching your mask.

Two circles are shown side-by-side - the first depicts a pair of hands and soap bubbles; the second says 20 seconds and shows one-third of a clock shaded in.

Stay safe during meals

  • Stagger break and meal times.
  • Avoid sitting directly beside or across from others.
  • Clean or disinfect tables before and after eating.
  • Wash or sanitize hands before removing mask.
  • Store mask in clean place while eating.
  • Immediately after eating, wash or sanitize hands, then put mask back on.
An icon shows a crossed knife and fork.

Stay safe in elevators

  • Wear mask at all times.
  • Limit 1 to 2 people in elevator. Take stairs or wait for next elevator.
  • Practice social distancing while waiting for elevator, and when inside.
  • Avoid touching your face after pushing the button.
  • Wash with soap or sanitize hands after leaving elevator.
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Cleaning guidance

For shared spaces

The College of Medicine offers a set of standard operating procedures for the use of common rooms, shared equipment within departments and other spaces occupied by multiple people.

See shared facility SOPs

For labs

Specific guidance is available for laboratories and research facilities regarding approved COVID-19 disinfection methods researchers can follow for their high-touch work areas and equipment.

See lab cleaning guidance

More resources