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Emergency Preparedness

Penn State Prepping for Return to Campus

Pennsylvania State University has acquired 500,000 masks in preparation for resuming work and classes.

During a recent online townhall, Penn State President Eric Barron emphasized that a timeline for bringing back furloughed employees, as a start, was influenced by a number of factors, including federal and state guidelines. For example, as research operations resume, staff are needed to reopen buildings. With the easing of state and county stay-at-home restrictions, landscaping crews can begin working. Currently, employees who don't have work they can perform are being paid 50 percent of their wages through at least June 30.

"We're not making abrupt announcements. We're taking this one step at a time, and we're it doing it as a community," Barron said. "We're also working really hard to be mindful of our role that this university plays in the communities. We live here. We work here. So, we also contemplate what kind of impact we have on our community, our friends and our neighbors."

Currently, three university task groups (the "Public Health and Science Assessment," "Return to Work" and "Return to Campus and Community") and 12 coronavirus "action" groups are working with the university administration to sort out how a return to campus operations and residential instruction would unfold.

Barron added that the university purchased the masks for distribution to its campus community and will also set up 2,500 hand sanitizer stations across all of its locations as part of coronavirus prevention efforts.

A decision about fall in-person classes is expected to be announced by June 15, 2020.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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