COVID-related directives for meetings, visitors and Visiting Scholars on campus

July 06, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the 16 University task groups wade through a multitude of scenarios and aspects for dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, various questions are being answered — including how or if employees and visitors should meet and gather on campuses. 

“We continue to work with the health and safety of our community foremost in our minds, and effective risk management as a priority. At this point, our campuses are relatively contained systems and are generally well-positioned as it relates to COVID-19 cases,” said Nick Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost. “A significant challenge will be managing individuals coming into the community from other locations, which is why we are planning a very structured approach for our return. We have expanded the scope of our considerations and have created guidance related to meetings, large gatherings, visiting scholars and more.”

The following guidance does not pertain to student meetings. Penn State Student Affairs is working on guidance to govern events and meetings that involve students and student organizations. 

Meetings and gatherings

Effective July 1, requests for meetings of more than 10 but fewer than 250 participants must be submitted for approval to unit executives. With approval, meetings can be scheduled at campuses located in counties that are in the “green” phase of reopening under commonwealth guidelines, taking into account the maximum occupancy of the meeting room, which must  allow attendees to maintain at least six feet of distance between participants. No large events with more than 249 attendees may be scheduled.

Details on requesting permission, organizing an event of more than 10 people but fewer than 250, or meetings at campuses that are in the “yellow” or “red” phase, or travel between campuses that are in these phases, can be found at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/faq/story/what-is-the-status-of-in-person-meetings-events-youth-programs-camps-and-other-gatherings .

All Penn State employees must follow existing travel guidance.

Visiting Scholars

Existing Visiting Scholars, defined as those whose applications have been approved and have a visa stamp, may come to Penn State as planned. Those who have not yet obtained a visa stamp are asked to reschedule their arrival until Feb. 1, 2021. This guidance will be revisited monthly and revised as State Department and other public health guidance evolves.

Moratorium on new applications

Based on the recent U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory and visa services suspension, Penn State is not accepting new Visiting Scholar applications until further notice. This moratorium applies to domestic and international visiting scholars. Applications currently in the system will not be approved. Requests for exceptions may be made to vpfa@psu.edu.

Information on granting extensions for current Visiting Scholars, as well as guidance on paid J-1 scholars, can be found in more detail at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/faq/story/what-is-the-status-of-the-visiting-scholar-program.

Visitors to campus in general

Limiting the density of the on-campus population reduces the chances of incidental contact that could spread illness. To further reduce the chances of exposure, the University has developed  protocols to limit public access to campus buildings. Units are strongly encouraged to continue to engage with visitors remotely whenever possible.

Individuals wishing to have a non-employee visit campus for any period of time must make a request to their unit executive. These individuals may not meet the definition of a Visiting Scholar (see above). Examples of visitors include, but are not limited to, those wishing to audit a class, those wishing to participate in a meeting in person, invited speakers, guest lecturers/speakers in a class, or research collaborators making a short-term visit.

The request to the unit executive should include where the visitor is traveling from, why the interaction cannot take place virtually, and the length of the proposed visit. When reviewing requests, unit executives should give attention to the locations from which visitors are traveling and the COVID-19 rates in those locations.

Visitors must comply with all COVID health and safety guidelines during travel and while on campus.

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Last Updated July 06, 2020