Effective immediately, Penn State will require all students, faculty, staff, and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — to wear masks indoors at all campuses. Learn more about Penn State's health guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about maintaining continuity of learning throughout the semester.

All FAQs


Please check Starfish to schedule an appointment with your academic adviser or contact your academic adviser via email to learn more about how they will conduct advising appointments.

Undergraduate students must use the appeal process to petition for a retroactive late drop through the Faculty Senate. As soon as you determine you cannot participate in the course, you should work with your academic adviser to ensure that all parts of your petition are complete prior to submission. Note that you should not submit your petition to the Faculty Senate Office directly; a petition can only be submitted through your college or campus. The Faculty Senate Office has additional details on submitting a petition.

Graduate students’ requests for a retroactive late drop must be submitted by the graduate program to the student’s Records Coordinator in the Office of Graduate Enrollment Services. The graduate program should provide a detailed explanation describing the extenuating circumstances, why the course in question could not be dropped by the published late-drop deadline, and why the course cannot be completed as planned and indicate its support for the request.

For both undergraduate and graduate students receiving financial aid, having incomplete (DF, NG, LD) or failing grades (F) on their transcript at the end of the semester may negatively impact their federal and state aid satisfactory academic progress review, which typically occurs annually at the end of spring semester. This annual review determines a student’s eligibility for aid for future semesters. However, students who are on financial aid probation for fall 2020 should consult with an Office of Student Aid adviser to discuss how a fall 2020 incomplete or failing grade may impact their spring 2021 financial aid eligibility.

Watch for email notifications about progress reports, and be sure to set up a meeting with your instructor and/or adviser to address concerns with your academic progress and make a plan to get back on track. You can check your course syllabus for your instructor’s preferred contact information. Many students will be able to make an appointment with their adviser directly through Starfish. If your adviser does not have scheduling enabled in Starfish, you can contact your adviser or advising office directly to set up an appointment.

Your academic adviser will have tips and strategies for communicating with your course instructors. If you have already tried to resolve the issue through communication with your instructor and are still experiencing problems, you may contact the department head, school director, or director of academic affairs of the unit offering the course. You can also complete our Academic Concern form to get your issues addressed.

Your instructors will let you know how best to contact them, how quickly you can expect to hear back from them on correspondence, and when and where they will be holding office hours, whether in-person or virtual. This information will be on your course syllabus, but if you are unsure, please ask until you have the information you need. Penn State Learning resources may also be provided at the department or college level, and every campus has a learning center.

Class Format/Instructional Mode

You may be able to make alternative arrangements to take your exam at a more convenient time. Contact your instructor to identify the options for your course.

According to University Policy, students must get express permission from their instructor to record class sessions. Screenshots showing instructors and students are considered recordings. Even if permission is granted, student-initiated recordings must be used only for educational purposes for the students enrolled in the initiating student’s class. Recordings may be used only during the period in which the student is enrolled in the class. Authorized student-initiated recordings may not be posted or shared in any fashion outside of the class, including online through social media or other digital channels, without the express written consent of the course instructor or appropriate University administrator. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of class recordings may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

All students are expected to behave respectfully in classes, no matter the format or delivery mode. Read the latest information about expectations for students on the Student Affairs website.

Some lectures may be recorded. Please check with the instructor teaching the course.

Health and Safety

With the exception of bottled water, all food and drink consumption is prohibited in classrooms. Straws are recommended to minimize the time masks are moved aside for those drinking water. And you should also be especially conscious of physical distancing when drinking. For more information, refer to policy AD62 – Use of General Purpose Classrooms.

For more information about quarantine and isolation, including a list of resources and detailed FAQs, review the Quarantine and Isolation resource page on the Student Affairs website.

Students both on-campus and off-campus who have not shared with the University that they have been vaccinated will be notified when they have to test, and there will be significant consequences for noncompliance. Consequences for noncompliance include a process of warnings and sanctions up to and including suspension.

No. If you are not vaccinated, you are permitted in classrooms, advising, and other on-campus spaces without any requirement for distancing, but you must remain masked.

Everyone must wear a mask while inside buildings on Penn State campuses, effective August 4, 2021. This applies to classrooms, meeting spaces, and other shared public indoor areas. If you are alone in a walled office space, you may remove your mask.  

For the most up-to-date masking guidance, refer to the Health Guidelines page on the Virus Info website.

Vaccinations are not required but are strongly encouraged for your safety and the safety of others. Students and employees who have not informed the University that they have been fully vaccinated by August 9 will be subject to required testing during the fall semester.

Students at Penn State University Park, Commonwealth campuses, and Dickinson Law can upload their vaccination records through myUHS, and World Campus students can do so through Salesforce Health Cloud.

Everyone must wear masks indoors at all times in all University public indoor spaces. The University encourages everyone who is able to get a COVID-19 vaccination as the vaccines are effective at keeping you from contracting COVID-19, as well as protecting you from severe illness should you contract COVID-19.

It may take some time to reacclimate to classrooms and offices on campus. You should continue the use of practices that help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other seasonal illness such as flu (e.g., hand hygiene, wearing of masks, not coming to class when ill).

No. If you are not vaccinated, you are permitted in classroom, advising, and other on-campus spaces as all others are, but you must remain masked.

For the most up-to-date answer to this question, refer to this FAQ on the Virus Info website.

While you can ask a someone about their vaccination status, no one is required to share this personal information.

The Penn State Student Affairs website provides comprehensive information about COVID-19 including what to do if you feel sick, contact tracing, and quarantine/isolation.

Effective immediately, all students are strongly encouraged to complete a daily symptom checker to self-screen for potential COVID-19 symptoms before returning to campus. Students can access the COVID-19 symptom checker in the Penn State Go mobile app. Download Penn State Go from Google Play Store and Apple App Store

New users will be prompted to select their Penn State Go Experience when they start using the app. You can select from University Park, World Campus, or individual Commonwealth Campus Experiences in the app to view the Coronavirus Resources section for access to the daily COVID-19 symptom checker. 

Users who had previously downloaded Penn State Go will need to update the app to view the Coronavirus Resources section for access to the daily COVID-19 Symptom Checker. 

For more information, visit the Penn State Go website and learn about its features.

International Students

Review the guidelines for international students for fall 2021 maintained by Global Penn State.

You may be able to make alternative arrangements to take your exam at a more convenient time. Contact your instructor to identify the options for your course.

Students can locate information about which software they can access from international locations in the International Restrictions of Penn State Software and Technology Services (PDF)

If you are unable to use the software of your choice, please consult the document to see if there is a Penn State provided alternative. You may also try to connect through a Penn State–provided VPN. However, international governments can change access to the software at any time. 

Student Services and Support

Everyone’s lives have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and it is normal that you are experiencing stress, uncertainty, and disruption during this time. Penn State Health Promotion and Wellness has provided a variety of resources to give you positive coping strategies, including a guide to maintain your health and wellness (PDF) during COVID-19. It is also a good idea to stay connected with others, whether that’s with family and friends or through campus-related activities.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides resources including You@PSU, a wellness portal that provides personalized resources. CAPS also hosts virtual Life Hacks sessions twice daily for all Penn State students. These are free, drop-in gatherings focused on improving quality of life.

University Libraries are open with limited hours. You can also access remote resources.

Student Disability Resources engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis. Please contact the disability services office on your campus. Services are consistent, but hours and implementation may vary. 

You can find a wide range of accessibility resources offered by Accessibility and Usability at Penn State. All questions about the accessibility of materials and technology used in courses can be sent to accessibility@psu.edu.

If you are finding it difficult to cope or are feeling overwhelmed, we encourage you to reach out to your campus resources:

  • University Park students can call Counseling and Psychological Services at 814-863-0395 to make an appointment and speak with a clinician. CAPS is currently offering clinical consultations and short-term tele-mental health therapy.
  • Students at other Penn State campuses should contact their campus counseling staff.
  • Penn State World Campus students should contact their Mental Health Case Manager.

If you are experiencing high distress or are in crisis and are located in the United States, please call the Penn State Crisis Line at 1-877-229-6400 or call 911. You may also receive immediate support from the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘LIONS’ to 741741. Contact local emergency services if you are outside the United States.

If you are located in Pennsylvania, you can also access the COVID-19 Support & Referral Helpline.

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