Shortly after Governor Tom Wolf announced the new outline for vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania, Penn State President Eric Barron addressed pre-submitted questions from faculty and staff about how the university will deal with COVID-19 moving forward. In a livestream, Barron urged employees to get vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible. Those who work with students can sign up starting on Monday.
Kelly Wolgast is the director of Penn State’s COVID-19 operations control center. She says, for now, Penn Staters will have to look outside the university for a vaccine.
“The state is however not making the vaccine available to us as a university to give to our employees or our students. However it is being distributed through healthcare systems, pharmacys, the Rite-Aids, the CVSs, and those types of organizations across the state,” said Wolgast.
The university has freezers and tech support ready in hopes of future approval to administer vaccines.
Penn State will continue testing and contract tracing through the summer, as classes phase in to in-person. The university plans to have all classes in person for the Fall semester.
Penn State Vice President of Human Resources Lorraine Goffe says a "return to work" task force is drafting a transition plan to increase the number of workers on campus starting in the summer. By fall, she said they plan to have most employees back in person.
“During the fall semester, employees who are returning to campus will begin working on site. We want to make sure that happens prior to the semester so we are ready and in place to support our returning students,” said Goffe.
A “remote work” task force is looking at what jobs might continue remotely.
Barron says he’s been impressed with the work ethic of employees during the pandemic. He says it’s an extremely high priority for him to try to get raises for employees this year after a salary freeze last year. He says that decision will be part of creating the university budget that gets approved in July.