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Frequently Asked Questions related to COVID-19

Please continue to check this page frequently for updates.

Last updated: August 11, 2021

Given the rapidly changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g. school, daycare, and other business closures) that may make it difficult for graduate students to complete activities, supervisors of graduate students involved in research, teaching and other activities, and graduate student advisers overall should continue to provide flexibility for their graduate students.

Guidance for Fall 2021

Below are current answers to several questions that we have received with information that is current as of today. Check back often, as we will update these answers as decisions are made.

Penn State is planning for a full on-campus learning environment for fall 2021, and the fall semester will more closely resemble Penn State’s typical in-person instructional experience.    

With a return to in-person instruction, the Graduate School has reassessed the guidance documents it released during the pandemic to determine which, if any, of the temporary adjustments should continue in FA21.   After careful consideration, the Graduate School has updated its guidance on policy exceptions for FA21

 

If a graduate student contracts COVID-19 (or any illness) and is unable to continue teaching, the graduate student should contact the department responsible for the course. Colleges and academic units have been asked to create a plan for how to reassign classes if the instructor becomes ill and cannot teach. You should work with the individual who supervises your activities as a first point of contact.

The Graduate School has a Leave of Absence policy (GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence) that covers both short and longer-term leaves required for a variety of reasons, including illness.

Graduate students who encounter challenges to adjust their teaching assignment that cannot be resolved at the local level are encouraged to follow the established process in their academic units for resolving disputes and if unsuccessful, may seek assistance from Dr. Sarah Ades, Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs in The Graduate School.

Graduate students may also seek formal accommodations from the Penn State’s Office of Student Disability Resources.

 

During this time, graduate programs have been encouraged to be flexible.

Graduate School Administrative Policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence provides relevant details for handling graduate student leaves. GSAD-906 is flexible and addresses short- or long- term absences, while protecting the student’s standing in and eventual return to their program of studies.

A graduate student supported by a graduate assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship may request a Paid Absence. More information is available in the Graduate School’s guidelines "Management of Graduate Assistantships, Fellowships, and Traineeships for Graduate Students with an Approved Leave of Absence". There are two options:

  • Paid Short-Term Absence - Short-term absences are defined in Policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence as lasting 3 weeks or less.
  • Paid Extended Absence - Extended absences are defined in Policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence as lasting 3 or more weeks but less than a full semester.

 

 

International Students

Global Programs has created a FAQ page for international students with answers to many questions ranging from remote learning to returning home/reentering the US to various visa issues including OPT. Please consult the page frequently as it is being continually updated. For individual advice, students may call +1-814-865-6348 or complete the eform via the Submit a Question link.

Funding

At this time, stipend distributions will not be interrupted.

  • Graduate School Administrative Policy GSAD-906 provides relevant details for handling graduate student leaves. A graduate student supported by a graduate assistantship, fellowship, or traineeship may request a Paid Absence.
    • There are two options:
      • Paid Short-Term Absence - Short-term absences are defined in Policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence as lasting 3 weeks or less.
      • Paid Extended Absence - Extended absences are defined in Policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence as lasting 3 or more weeks but less than a full semester.
  • You should check with the individual funding agency for information about alterations to deadlines or other policies.
  • Efforts will be made to hold the information sessions via video conferencing.

Health and Well-Being

See the Penn State Coronavirus Information Site for information regarding health services, self-quarantine, and what to do if you recently returned from international travel.

The CDC has released information for Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19, and Penn State resources are available to students at University Park through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and at the College of Medicine through the Office of Professional Mental Health.

If you have additional questions or needs, please contact Student Care and Advocacy at COVID19StudentSupport@psu.edu.

All graduate students covered by the Student Health Insurance Plan can access professional counseling remotely via BetterHelp, and can access board-certified physicians online or on the phone (where permitted) through Telehealth Medical’s HealthiestYou. The doctors on Telehealth can even send a prescription to a preferred pharmacy.

There is an emergency fund to support Penn State students, the Student Care & Advocacy Emergency Fund, which will be made available to students in financial need across the commonwealth who apply for emergency assistance.

This page was generated on October 22, 2021 at 7:07 PM Eastern Time. This may not be the most recent version. Check the website for updates.