Testing requirements for students who must return to campus communities

Students who must return before Feb. 15 should follow steps to complete required COVID-19 testing

As part of plans announced to begin the spring 2021 semester remotely, the University is urging students who live off campus to postpone their return to their campus community unless it is necessary for work, academic-program-specific reasons or other important circumstances. Students who must return to their campus community before Feb. 15 or who have remained in their campus community over winter break will be required to order and complete a free COVID-19 test before their arrival.

The following steps must be taken by all students who are returning to their campus communities before Feb. 15:

  • Students from all campuses are required to participate in COVID-19 testing and have a negative COVID test result on file prior to their return to their campus community. Self-test kits will be provided to students at no cost.
  • The University plans to have a test result on file for every student within 72 hours of their intended return.
  • Students who have a positive test on file with the University from within the last 90 days do not need to complete this testing. 
  • Students should determine their individual arrival date and count backwards to complete each step on the timeline.

To avoid delays due to the holiday season and shipping considerations, students should use the timeline instructions below to count backwards and determine the dates when they need to complete each step:

21 days before you plan to arrive: Log in to the “Know Your Status” Portal to check your test status.

  • Know Your Status can also be accessed on the Penn State Go app, which is available to download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
  • Log in with your Penn State Access Account to check your “test status” and track your progress through the testing process; the University also will be able to track your progress. 
  • You need to complete testing before you return, unless you have a COVID-positive test result from the last 90 days on record in the portal. You can also upload a positive test result from the last 90 days from a third-party PCR test.   
  • Keep in mind, the timing to order and complete the test will vary for each student depending on their planned return. 

14 days (at least) before: Order your at-home test kit

  • Vault Health will mail your test kit to your current place of residence, along with detailed instructions to complete the test with a Vault Health representative virtually. 

5 days before: Take your test and mail it back 5 days before you plan to return to your campus community. A pre-paid expedited shipping label is included. 

  • During the period of several days before being tested, you should take extra precautions. As much as possible, limit your interactions with others to only the essentials.  
  • Don't eat, drink or chew gum for 30 minutes prior to taking your test. 
  • Take your test in a Zoom meeting with a Vault Health representative. 

3 days before: Students should receive test results from Vault Health within 72 hours of the test arriving at the lab. Test results will be automatically uploaded to the University’s portal. 

  • If your test result is positive: Isolate at home and do not return to your campus community. Contact tracers from Penn State will reach out to you to offer support and guidance on the time period for isolation.
  • If your test result is negative: Continue to limit interactions with those outside your household and take health and safety precautions during your travel to your campus community. 

Get ready for arrival: Students must be able to check off the following:  

  • You have self-quarantined for at least 7 days immediately prior to your arrival and before moving in to off-campus housing.  
  • You are complying with travel requirements: The University’s pre-arrival test plan will enable students who complete pre-arrival testing to meet Pennsylvania travel requirements to be tested within 72 hours of entering the state and help them avoid a travel quarantine. 
  • You are not COVID-19 positive, do not have symptoms of COVID-19, and have not been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is suspicious of having COVID-19; if you are or have been, do not return to your Penn State campus community

Students can contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121 with specific questions about testing or the portal.