Penn State

Penn State coach Patrick Chambers reacts to a call late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Rutgers, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in State College, Pa.
Gary M. Baranec / AP Photo

  Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers has apologized to former player Rasir Bolton via Twitter for a racially insensitive remark about a noose from the 2018-19 basketball season.  

First Penn State Student Dies From COVID-19

Jul 2, 2020
Penn State's Old Main administrative building.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

A Penn State student has died from respiratory failure due to COVID-19.

Penn State said in a press release that it learned of the Tuesday death of 21-year-old Juan Garcia, a student in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, through friends and family. He is the first known Penn State student to die from coronavirus.

Courtney Witmer posed with her daughter, Arya, in their State College home in February. Witmer is glad Penn State will begin to offer four weeks of paid parental leave to its staff.
Min Xian / WPSU

Courtney Witmer and her husband are first time parents. They welcomed their firstborn, Arya, at the end of last year. Witmer, a social media marketing manager at Penn State’s World Campus, said being new parents is exciting, but challenging.

“We knew that those first few weeks are really the hardest,” Witmer said. “You're navigating a whole new world of lack of sleep and this little being that can't tell you what it needs. And its only form of communication is crying, and your brain is literally wired to light on fire when it cries. And so, you're trying so hard to adapt.”

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

In an online town hall on Monday, Penn State President Eric Barron talked with the co-chairs of the university’s new Select Presidential Commission on Racism, Bias and Community Safety about their plans for the commission. 

The university also announced the creation of scholarships to promote equity and diversity. Barron said Penn State will match up to $10 million in donations toward diversity and equity scholarships, and fund memorial scholarships named after George Floyd and Osaze Osagie.

Pre-K-12 schools in Pennsylvania were closed for the last three months of the school year that just ended, due to coronavirus concerns. Gov. Tom Wolf told schools to move to a digital learning model.

We talked about the effects of the shutdown on students with Ed Fuller, an associate professor in the College of Education at Penn State.   

TRANSCRIPT:

Emily Reddy:

Junior Jon Flatley at the Nittany Lion Shrine.
Jon Flatley

 

 

    

Penn State leaders hosted a virtual town hall for parents and students on Monday to clarify any concerns about the university’s "Back to State" plan for returning to school in the fall. Some students say their questions remain unanswered.

Penn State president Eric Barron
Ralph Wilson / AP Photo

Penn State plans to convert the Nittany Lion Inn into an isolation residence for students who have or have been exposed to COVID-19, and football fans should not expect to fill a crowded stadium in the fall even if fall sports resume.

Those were some of the topics Penn State President Eric Barron covered during a virtual town hall meeting for faculty and staff Monday.

The Nittany Lion Inn conversion will mean 79 layoffs. But, he said, most employees who the university had previously furloughed will be brought back in August.

 

A Penn State team known as Data For Action is asking Centre County residents to complete a survey about COVID-19 that's part of a larger project aimed at measuring the virus’s health, economic and social impacts on the county.

 

Meg Small, with the Social Science Research Institute, said having local data will mean better understanding the impact of the coronavirus to help decide how to respond.

 

Selena Ortiz and her colleagues surveyed 906 municipalities in Pennsylvania in May and published a report on how local officials handled the coronavirus.
Photo provided

The state government has taken a leading role in deciding Pennsylvania’s response to the coronavirus. But when it comes to enforcing protocols and communicating with residents, local municipalities have been providing much of the support. 

Penn State's Old Main administrative building.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State announced Monday it will move a virtual town hall on the return to in-person instruction for the fall semester because it fell on Juneteenth.

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

As Penn State gets ready to return to on-campus classes this fall, many faculty don’t think in-person teaching will be safe and are calling on the university for more information about how its plans will work.

 

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

For Penn State, it’s back to school in person this fall.

 

In an email sent to Penn State students and employees Sunday, the university said that it plans to return to on-campus classes. The email from President Eric Barron emphasized the priority the univeristy puts on health and safety. It comes at a time when experts warn of the chance of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, possibly in the fall.

Participants in "Justice for Black Lives" march Sunday, June 7, 2020, in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / WPSU

When Penn State announced the phased return of athletes, the university said students are required to practice safety measures, including wearing face masks in public, observing social distancing and avoiding large groups.

 

Penn State began bringing athletes back to campus Monday, starting with 75 football players. Some players were among the participants in a “Justice for Black Lives” rally held Sunday in State College.

 

Sascha Meinrath, the Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State, talked about the digital divide in the time of COVID-19.
Photo provided

Increasingly, our daily lives are online, especially during the coronavirus shutdown. But access to the internet is not always equal, which was exacerbated by the shutdown. And the privacy implications of our online lives are sometimes an afterthought.

In this file photo from July 2018, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna spoke at a town hall in Philipsburg on opioids.
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna, the Centre County sheriff, and police chiefs from State College and Bellefonte, Spring, Patton, and Ferguson Townships and Penn State released statements Thursday on racial inequities in the United States and a police officer’s oath to protect and serve. 

A Pennsylvania Department of Health graphic urges people to "Know the Symptoms of COVID-19," which can be spread through close contact.
PA Department of Health

 

It’s a warm spring night in State College, and Penn State students are gathering in yards and on porches. There’s music. There’s beer pong. But, social distancing and face masks? Not so much.

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State moved its summer classes online, and most students aren’t in town. That doesn’t mean student socilializing has disappeared.

 

State College police say they’re focused on educating partiers about the coronavirus safety guidelines.

 

Eric Barron
Ralph Wilson, File / AP Photo

Penn State is still aiming to bring students back to its campuses in the fall, and is coming up with plans for how to do that safely. That was one of the topics during a virtual town hall university leaders held Tuesday.

  

Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims is leading a task force focused on the return to campus and community.

 

A Penn State parking sign in a "Red" lot on campus explains parking restrictions.
Penn State Transportation Services

  

While most Penn State employees are currently working from home, they're going to continue to pay for their on-campus parking permits, the university announced.

The university will keep deducting parking fees from the paychecks of faculty and staff who are receiving their full salaries. Employees pay $37 a month for a typical parking permit at University Park.

Screen shot of the Zoom home page
Anne Danahy

After getting hit by Zoom bombings ranging from disruptive to disturbing, Penn State is tightening the security defaults on the platform.

 

“There’s whole groups of people going around, and they’re literally searching for Zoom links so they can come in later and bomb them. There’s whole chatrooms dedicated to bombing Zoom meetings, believe it or not," said Richard Sparrow, acting chief information security officer at Penn State.

 

empty HUB-Robeson Center with one person walking
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Penn State has seen a drop in the number of international and in-state students applying.

 

“Admissions for summer and fall 2020 are, of course, a critical part of our budgeting and our success,” said university President Eric Barron on Friday.

 

He was speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on admissions during a university trustees meeting.

 

Erika Saunders is the chair of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health.
Erika Saunders

The coronavirus pandemic has brought sharp awareness to physical wellbeing, shelter-in-place orders and social distancing practices aim to keep our bodies safe and healthy.

But what about our minds? What effects might longterm shelter orders and social distancing have on our mental health?

We talked about this with Erika Saunders, the chair of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Andy Grant:

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is telling employees who are telecommuting they should plan to continue to do so at least through the end of May, and the university will use a regionally-based plan to return to working on campuses.

In making the announcement, the university noted it is in keeping with Gov. Tom Wolf's reopening plan, which said telework must continue where feasible.

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State leaders say they will announce plans for the fall semester and whether students will return for in-person classes by June 15.

“We’re always trying to juggle the two competing desires for people to know what’s ahead of them, but also to be making the best decision with the most up-to-date epidemiological and health information at our fingertips,” said Provost Nick Jones.

He and Penn State President Eric Barron answered questions about the impact of COVID-19 on Penn State during Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting, which was held remotely.

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is preparing online learning options as it faces the possibility of students from other countries not being able to return to the United States in the fall because of travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“What we’re uncertain of at this time is whether that experience will be fully residential or whether we have to have a remote learning component as we did this spring and as we’re planning for the summer,” said Roger Brindley, vice provost for Global Programs at the university.

 

Penn State classrooms are left empty as the university switched to remote learning due to COVID-19 concerns.
Min Xian / WPSU

Coronavirus concerns meant a shift to online learning for Penn State students. It was an abrupt end to the school year and, for some of them, to their college experience. 

“This really just blindsided all of us,” said Luke Lacher. 

Lacher is a senior broadcast journalism student at Penn State. Like millions of graduating college seniors around the country, COVID-19 cut off his last semester at school and the life he had known for the last three and a half years. 

Old Main, the administration building, on Penn State's University Park campus
Min Xian / WPSU

 

Penn State will continue holding classes online, not in-person, this summer. The university pointed to the need to protect the health of students and employees as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Penn State is leaving open the possibility of returning to on-campus classes in its second summer session. The university says that decision will be based on guidance from government and health authorities.

The move to online learning applies to all of the university’s campuses.  

 

Empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State will announce within the next few days what format the summer session will take, university Provost Nick Jones said in a town hall Thursday.

Jones said the university will consider challenges and lessons from the spring semester, when the university decided to cancel in-person classes in March.

Hundreds of Penn State students and parents are petitioning landlords of off-campus apartments to provide some rent relief.
Min Xian / WPSU

Mark Naidoff’s daughter is a senior at Penn State. Like most students, she hasn’t returned to her downtown apartment since spring break ended, as the university canceled in-person classes for the rest of the semester. 

Courtesy Matthew Ferrari

Matthew Ferrari is an epidemiologist and associate professor of biology at Penn State who studies infectious diseases and how they spread across populations. He uses mathematical and statistical tools to understand patterns of disease incidence. He talked with WPSU's Cheraine Stanford about the new coronavirus, what we know, what we don’t and what it means for our community and our country.

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