Flowers surround the sign at the entrance to Penn State Behrend

On-campus learning and work to resume by start of fall semester

Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 24. The final weeks of the semester, including final exams, will be delivered remotely.

Penn State Behrend will begin its fall semester as scheduled on Monday, Aug. 24, with on-campus, in-person classes and a flexible instructional model that will include remote and online learning. After three months of comprehensive planning by teams across the University, including at Behrend, Penn State officials are confident that all campuses can meet or exceed the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Details of the Return-to-Campus plan are at

More than 250 Penn State faculty, staff and administrators – including representatives from Behrend – are contributing to the 16 task groups that are developing Penn State’s “Back to State” plans, which are guided by faculty scientists and public health experts. The task groups are incorporating feedback from students and employees, including comments from nearly 22,000 survey respondents, with the overarching goal of continuing the research and educational mission of the University while providing for the physical and psychological health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff.

“The reopening of our campus will be a strategic, incremental, deliberate process that will emphasize, first and foremost, the safety of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors,” Chancellor Ralph Ford said. “We are taking steps to prepare the physical campus, and our faculty are planning their fall courses with the flexibility to meet student needs in both in-person and online environments.”

Campus-based residential instruction will begin Monday, Aug. 24, and end Friday, Nov. 20. The remainder of the semester, including final examinations, will be delivered remotely and online when classes resume after Thanksgiving break.

The semester will end following finals on Friday, Dec. 18.

Behrend employees will return to campus in a phased approach, beginning with those who are preparing the campus for the return of students in the fall. All employees who are currently working remotely should continue to do so until contacted by their supervisor.

Admissions visits and open-house programs will continue to be held virtually. To learn more about that process, or to schedule an individual appointment, visit

Comprehensive prevention and public health procedures will be in place when classes resume – including testing, contact tracing, mask-wearing, social distancing and, if necessary, quarantine space. The University’s Office of Student Conduct and Human Resources are developing strategies to both encourage and enforce these measures, which will protect the health of the campus community and those who live in the surrounding area.

Medical personnel in Penn State Behrend’s Health and Wellness Center will have access to new testing equipment that will provide results within 45 minutes of a COVID test. The machine also will expand testing for strep, influenza and other medical conditions.

In addition to the University task groups, four teams at Penn State Behrend have been developing return strategies in four key areas: instruction, research, operations and outreach, and athletics. That work will continue throughout the summer.

“We are taking a comprehensive look at all campus operations, including the co-curricular learning opportunities that are so important to the college experience,” said Ken Miller, senior director of administration and student affairs. “The campus may look a little different this fall, but these measures, which are intended to keep members of our community safe, will allow us to be together again as a class, a cohort and a campus community.”

Modifications to the campus environment will include:

  • Limited seating in classrooms and labs, to continue social distancing
  • The addition of temporary classroom space, if needed
  • Remote delivery of any class with more than 250 students
  • A combination of in-person, remote and hybrid instruction, and the expectation that faculty members will make accommodations for students who miss class due to illness
  • Testing and contact-tracing of symptomatic individuals, and testing of asymptomatic individuals who are identified through the tracing process
  • Staggered scheduling, and new procedures at Dobbins Dining Hall
  • Adherence to the University’s return-to-research protocols to maintain social distancing in all research labs of the college
  • Plexiglass barriers in high-traffic common areas, and a reconfiguration of some workspaces to minimize close in-person contact in offices
  • Hand-sanitizing stations at all building entrances, and at the entrances to all general-purpose classrooms
  • High-visibility safety and directional signage across campus, with consistent messaging related to hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing

Chancellor Ford will host a virtual town hall with the chairs of Behrend’s return-to-campus teams to discuss these changes and the return-to-campus strategy on Wednesday, June 17, beginning at 10 a.m.

More information will be released throughout the summer as the Behrend return-to-campus teams continue their work. For the latest updates and information on Penn State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including an extensive FAQ and information specific for students, faculty and staff, visit For information specific to Penn State Behrend, visit