Sustaining Safe, Research-Related Activities during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research Guidelines

These instructions will be updated regularly. Please check back often.  

As circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve, our focus remains on the health and well-being of our community. In March 2020, we rapidly reduced on our-campus research-related activities, and in May 2020, we began a gradual increase in these activities. Now, we must be prepared to reduce activities again, if needed. It remains critical that all researchers and units have a responsive and responsible plan for conducting research that ensures a balance of safety and health while also continuing research developments, with the former outweighing the latter. The document below provides guidelines for the creation of unit-level research plans. Again, these instructions will be updated regularly.
Guidelines last updated Sept. 8, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. EST.

COVID19 Sustaining Research Guidelines

Research FAQs

On-campus research-related activities will continue to operate according to their established safety procedures.

Undergraduate and graduate students are permitted to continue working in labs if they are in town. Students may not request to remain in an on-campus residence hall solely for the purpose of working in a lab. Undergraduate students, graduate students, external visitors, and visiting scholars must receive prior approval from the relevant academic dean for them to continue on-campus research. Those who are already approved to work on campus do not need to be re-approved. All students and visitors must adhere to the standard operating procedures of the lab and be part of the person-count for square footage, scheduling, and any other relevant considerations. Faculty cannot and should not require undergraduate or graduate students to come to campus, and undergraduate and graduate students who conduct on-campus research must be included in the research reductions and approaches to de-densification.

There are no additional COVID-19 testing requirements for conducting on-campus research. Students must have a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to campus as part of their return for the spring 2021 semester. However, there are no additional test requirements for entering research facilities. All students, including students who remained on campus or in their campus communities during the semester break, are required to complete pre-arrival testing before returning to campus for any activity, including lab or studio work (see the FAQ). It is appropriate for a lab or studio leader to be clear about the expectation that the student complete the required testing and ask whether the student has completed the testing; however, a lab or studio leader should not ask for a test result. If a student tests positive, then supervisors will be notified as part of Penn State’s contact tracing process.

You should not ask someone for test results. You can communicate to students that your expectation is that they have completed their required testing and that they are following isolation requirements if they tested positive. No one should come to a lab/studio/work/class if they have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 until the isolation period is completed and symptoms resolve fully. If someone tests negative, they can return to a lab/studio/work/class while continuing to abide by all safety procedures and protocols, including masking, distancing and hygiene practices.


FAQs last updated January 14, 2021 at 2:22 PM EST.