A conceptual illustration of the coronavirus as if it were observed from a microscope is seen.

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.


Employees are required to wear a mask at all times while on campus, except when eating or drinking.

For the latest requirements on what type of masks are required, review the employee or student updates here.

Updated self-screening process

Effective March 1, 2021, all College of Medicine faculty, staff, students and postdocs will need to complete the following process on a daily basis.

  • All employees and students must complete the online check-in process at med.psu.edu/checkin. Please be honest in self-attesting that you do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Please complete this check-in prior to entering the building.
  • All college personnel must enter through either the College of Medicine entrance near the dean’s office or the BMR building entrance.
  • Doors will be locked and require badge access to enter the building. Even if the door is unlocked from another employee/learner, each person must still swipe their badge.
  • Once in the lobby, please check your temperature using the thermal temperature scanner.

Those experiencing new onset of symptoms that may be associated with COVID-19 (fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea and/or loss of taste or smell) should not come to work and should follow normal department call-off procedures, and should contact their primary care provider.

Additionally, faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows need to call Penn State Occupational Medicine at 814-863-8492. Students should contact Student Health at 717-531-5998. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please do not enter the building.

Those individuals who have a household member who is being tested or who has tested positive for COVID-19 should contact Occupational Medicine or Student Health at the numbers above for guidance on when to report for work.

Online check-in

To facilitate compliance with University requirements for on-campus work, each person working on-site is expected complete the short form at med.psu.edu/checkin before being screened. Provide your name, work email address and any location where you expect to spend more than 10 minutes throughout the day. This is best done via smartphone, as submitting the form generates a confirmation screen that you will be asked to show at the screening station.

After completing the form, you’ll receive a confirmation email. If you spend more than 10 minutes in any additional location over the course of the day, use the link in that email to submit an updated check-in before leaving work.

For convenience, the form link can be saved to the home screen of any iPhone/iPad or Android device by following these instructions.

For iPhone/iPad:

  • Launch Safari and load med.psu.edu/checkin.
  • Tap the Share button, which looks like a square with an arrow rising from it. Look for it on the bottom of the screen on an iPhone; near the top on an iPad.
  • Tap "Add to Home Screen" in the Share menu.
  • Name the shortcut as desired, then tap "Add." The shortcut icon now appears on the phone or tablet screen.

For Android:

  • Launch Chrome and load med.psu.edu/checkin.
  • Tap the menu button and choose "Add to Home Screen."
  • Name the shortcut as desired, then tap "Add." The shortcut icon now appears on the phone or tablet screen.
An image shows a phone screen with a large checkmark, name and timestamp. The name displayed is Nittany Lion.
The confirmation screen following a successful check-in form submission looks like this.

Closing the form: After showing the confirmation screen, employees should close that tab in their phone's browser. Failure to do so can result in being checked inadvertently the next time the browser app is opened.

Those without smartphones should plan to complete the form before arriving on campus. Print the confirmation screen and bring it to show the screeners; if printing is unavailable, or if you do not have the ability to complete the form at home, you will be asked to sign a log at the screening table and to complete the form from your office workstation if necessary.

Thermal temperature scanners

Thermal temperature scanners have been installed at the College of Medicine's main and Biomedical Research Building entrances and at the Academic Support Building entrance to assist in temperature checks for all employees.

A temperature equal to or greater than 100 degrees is considered high - a designation supported by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance. Employees and students should inform their supervisor and either Penn State Occupational Medicine for employees (814-863-8492) or Student Health for students (717-531-5998) if they detect a high temperature. All employee and student screening practices (including thermal temperature screening kiosks) will use 100 degrees as a new screening criteria.

Thermal temperature screening kiosks display "temperature normal" or "temperature high" based on the 100-degree mark, without the display of temperature.

All faculty, staff and students must continue to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and complete on-site temperature screening for each scheduled day of work before reporting to their work location.

A man wearing a facial mask leans forward toward a digital tablet screen on a stand.
Penn State College of Medicine student Alain Kameni has his temperature checked at the screening area in the lobby of the college in September 2020.


Employees/learners must wear their ID badge with colored screening sticker at all times. It will be required for entry into the building to allow for contact tracing should there be a COVID-positive case in the College of Medicine. Please note that doors from the hospital to the College will require badge access for entry.

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 through December 2021. 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.

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.
An icon shows up and down arrows inside a circle.

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