Details for required student on-arrival COVID-19 testing released

August 12, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State prepares to welcome students back for fall 2021, the University has developed requirements and expectations for certain on-campus students to receive a COVID-19 test upon their arrival. 

As part of its COVID-19 mitigation plans, Penn State previously announced that starting Aug. 16, COVID-19 tests will be required for all students moving into on-campus residential housing who have not shared with the University that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provided a positive COVID-19 test result from the last 90 days prior to arrival. The deadline to submit this information to avoid on-arrival testing was Aug. 9. Students who are unsure of their testing status should check MyUHS or eLiving prior to arrival. University Health Services (UHS) continues to process vaccine records that were uploaded by Aug. 9, so students who uploaded on that date may need to check their status again after a few days.

On-arrival testing also will be available for those living off-campus who wish to be tested, but priority testing during move-in dates will be for residence hall students. 

The University will not accept a negative COVID-19 test result at any campus from an off-campus test source for move in. However, students who have tested positive from an off-campus testing source within 90 days of their move-in date can provide their information to UHS via myUHS and are encouraged to do so as soon as the test result is received. 

Detailed testing plans and requirements for employees who are not vaccinated or have not shared that they are vaccinated with the University will be announced soon. Employees should share their vaccine information through Salesforce Health Cloud as soon as possible. Employees who are not vaccinated and are returning to campus on Aug. 16 may request a test from Vault Health for at-home testing.

University Park on-arrival testing

Students who plan to move into a residence hall at University Park need to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a 90-day positive test result on file in myUHS or be subject to a rapid COVID-19 test before moving into the residence halls.  

Upon arrival at the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) at their scheduled move-in time, students’ vaccination status will be reviewed. Students whose status is “complete” will be able to move in. Students whose status is “incomplete” will be required to test before move-in and will be shuttled via Penn State Transportation Services to the White Building test site. Rapid test results are generally returned to the student within 15-20 minutes after swab material is tested. Families of students who require testing will not accompany the student to the testing site. Students need to bring their smartphones and id+ Card with them to the test site. Face masks are required on the shuttle, inside the test site and while inside any building on campus.

Students who test negative will be shuttled back to the BJC to resume move-in activities. Those who test positive via the rapid test will have the choice of entering on-campus isolation for 10 days or returning home for 10 days. Additionally, students who test positive will be directed to take a secondary PCR test to confirm their positive result. PCR test results can take up to 48 hours, and students whose PCR test is negative can leave isolation early and resume the move-in process. 

Students who have arrival times scheduled for later than 7 p.m. will check in at the Findlay Commons Desk in East Halls (regardless of their fall room assignment).  

“We understand that the on-arrival testing process is an additional step now added for some students to the move-in day activities, however it is a necessary step to help keep our campus safe as students from across the country and around the world move into close living quarters,” said Kelly Wolgast, director of Penn State's COVID-19 Operations Control Center. “I greatly appreciate the patience and understanding of our students and their families as we work to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Testing individuals on arrival and throughout the semester will help us monitor the pandemic and make any necessary adjustments to our evolving contingency plans. We must stay vigilant because, by working together, we can help prevent the spread of the virus and continue with our on-campus experience.”

Commonwealth Campus on-arrival testing

All Commonwealth Campuses will utilize PCR test kits except the Abington, Altoona, Behrend, Berks and Harrisburg campuses, which will utilize rapid testing kits. Students will need to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a 90-day positive test result on file in myUHS or be subject to COVID-19 testing before moving in. The deadline to submit this information to avoid on-arrival testing was Aug. 9. Students who did not meet that deadline will be expected to test on arrival.

Rapid test results are generally returned to the student within 15-20 minutes after swab material is tested. Rapid testing hours will align with move-in hours. Students arriving after move-in hours will be given a PCR COVID-19 test or may be directed to report to the rapid test site the following day.  

At move-in, students will be directed to the following test locations for these campuses: 

  • Abington: Lares Building 
  • Altoona: Adler Athletic Complex
  • Behrend: Fasenmyer Building  
  • Berks: Franco Building 
  • Harrisburg: Educational Activities Building 

Students who plan to move into a residence hall at the Beaver, Brandywine, Hazleton, Greater Allegheny, Mont Alto and Schuylkill campuses will need to have confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination on file in myUHS or be subject to a PCR COVID-19 test upon move-in. The deadline to submit this information to avoid on-arrival testing was Aug. 9. Students who did not meet that deadline will be expected to test on arrival. PCR test results are generally returned to the student within 24-48 hours after the test specimen arrives at the lab. Students will be permitted to move into their residence hall while awaiting their test result. 

Students who test positive at any Commonwealth Campus will have the choice of entering on- or near-campus isolation for 10 days or returning home for 10 days.

Students are encouraged to contact their campus for further information on arrival testing protocols.

Semester testing of both on- and off-campus students

During the semester, all students — living both on and off campus — who remain unvaccinated or do not submit confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination to the University will be required to test for COVID-19 weekly throughout the semester or until they share with the University that they have been fully vaccinated.

Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be referred to quarantine and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. Contact Tracing will communicate with all students identified as close contacts regardless of their vaccination status. 

Students and employees with a documented need can submit an application for a medical or religious testing waiver; however, there are rare instances in which an application for an exemption will be granted by the University. 

Starting Aug. 16, Pegula Ice Arena will be open for drop-in, asymptomatic testing for students and required testing for student athletes from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday and the White Building will be open for rapid testing and PCR confirmation testing as needed from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday. The Pegula testing site will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 22, but both sites will be open on Saturday, Aug. 21, for their normal testing hours. 

UHS and campus health centers also will have testing available for students with symptoms of COVID-19. Even if they are vaccinated, individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should seek out symptomatic testing. While the vaccines are effective against serious illness, vaccinated individuals can contract and spread the virus. 

For more information on testing, please visit the University’s official COVID-19 website or Penn State News.

Last Updated August 20, 2021