COVID Related FAQs for Research Administration and Researchers

Will on-campus research be allowed during the period of remote instructions?

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

Will in-person student research be permitted through the remote-only instruction period at the start of the spring semester?

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.

Do I need a negative COVID-19 test before entering my lab, creative studio, or other on-campus research facility?

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 are required to complete pre-arrival testing before returning to campus for any activity, including lab or studio work. 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.

Can I ask students for proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they enter my lab or studio?

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.