Penn State

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.

 

In Performance at Penn State is a monthly hour-long program that showcases performances from Penn State's School of Music. This month, we’ll hear the “Symphonie fantastique” by Hector Berlioz, played by the Penn State Philharmonic with Gerardo Edelstein conducting.

 

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.  

 

In Performance at Penn State is a monthly hour-long program that showcases performances from Penn State's School of Music. This month, we’ll hear music from “A German Requiem” by Johannes Brahms, performed by the Penn State Philharmonic, Penn State’s Concert Choir, Essence of Joy, Glee Club, Oriana Singers and University Choir, and conductor Christopher Kiver.

 

A person walks across an empty mall on Penn State main campus
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.

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

 

Penn State has failed to protect some students and hasn’t handled all complaints of sexual harassment appropriately, according to the U.S. Department of Education, which on Thursday released the results of an investigation into the university.

 

Among the findings are that Penn State violated Title IX by not responding appropriately to complaints of sexual harassment. That includes student complaints in the 2016-17 academic year and complaints first reported to the Athletic Department in 2015-16 and 2017-18.  

Outside view of empty Penn State HUB-Robeson Center
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State is telling most of its employees and staff to plan to work from home for the rest of the semester.

 

The university had already directed faculty and staff to begin working remotely as part of efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. That decision came in light of Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 order that businesses that aren’t life-sustaining close.

 

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

Penn State will not lay off employees at least through the end of April, although faculty and staff won’t get pay increases this year, university leaders said during a town hall Tuesday.

 

The university is also planning for the possibility of continuing remote learning through summer semester, as COVID-19’s reach across Pennsylvania and the country grows.

 

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

Two Penn State students who were traveling abroad have tested positive for COVID-19, the university’s president, Eric Barron, said.

 

Barron was speaking to the Board of Trustees Thursday morning during a telephone meeting.

 

A Penn State spokesman said the students have not been on campus. He said one student is back in the United States and has been asymptomatic. The other is still abroad. The university, he said, is “doing whatever we can to support the student, who we understand is feeling better.”

Penn State President Eric Barron said in a message to the university community that the school will support its international students against the potentially disastrous impact of a newly proposed ICE rule.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State student Jacob Klipstein was shocked when Ohio State University announced it would suspend all in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

view of empty Penn State mall
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State announced today that it will not return to normal, in-person classes this semester, instead keeping the entire semester online.

The move comes in response to the coronavirus and efforts to slow the increasing number of cases of COVID-19. The decision means that spring commencement ceremonies are being postponed.

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

Penn State plans to announce Wednesday whether the rest of the semester will continue remotely in response to COVID-19. President Eric Barron made that remark during Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting while responding to questions.

“It is the best thing to say we will answer this question tomorrow,” Barron said when asked if faculty will be delivering classes remotely for the rest of the semester. “Because, we just don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, as we contemplate many, many different issues that are related to that decision.”

Penn State students load their belongings into cars to leave campus on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Penn State has switched to online classes for the next three weeks in response to the coronavirus. But students have a window of time to go to their dorm rooms to collect books or other things they need, and that led to at least one long line at University Park, raising concerns.

The image was posted on Facebook Sunday: a long line of Penn State students standing and waiting to access their dorm rooms. The concerns were obvious.

As the website Onward State, which posted the pictures, put it: “So much for social distancing.”

Old Main, an administrative building and landmark of Penn State's University Park campus.
Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

In the wake of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania, Penn State is switching to remote learning and discouraging students from returning to campus for three weeks.

Old Main
WPSU

Penn State announced that it is canceling in-person classes and switching to remote, online learning at least through April 3. Penn State is currently on spring break, and the university is discouraging all students from returning after the break, even if they live off-campus.

There are no known cases on any of the Penn State campuses. 

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