COVID-19 FAQs

COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) Retirement FAQs

ATTENTION SERS AND PSERS MEMBERS:

For the time period March 15, 2020 through July 31, 2020, if you received pay—and/or continue to receive pay—for non-working hours, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has advised that no contributions can be made to your retirement plan in connection with such pay. SERS/PSERS generally recognizes contributions for hours worked (i.e., services or work performed by an employee). Accordingly:

  • During the time period March 15, 2020 through May 3, 2020, if you received pay for time not worked, contributions were inadvertently made to SERS/PSERS in connection with such pay and need to be corrected. Penn State is working with SERS/PSERS to correct the contributions and hours that were inadvertently reported, and the contributions that were deducted from your paycheck during this time will be refunded. This refund will appear in a future biweekly or monthly paycheck.
  • During the time period May 4, 2020 through July 31, 2020, be advised that no contributions will be made to SERS/PSERS for pay received in connection with non-working hours. Thus, no retirement contributions will be deducted from your paycheck during this time period.

If you have questions on how your pension benefit may be impacted, please contact a SERS or PSERS retirement counselor: SERS: 1-800-633-5461 PSERS: 1-888-773-7748

I am not working from 5/4-6/30/2020 and receiving 50% of my pay. Will employer and employee contributions to retirement plans continue during this time?

If you participate in SERS or PSERS, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has informed the University that no contributions can be made during this time period. SERS and PSERS generally recognize contributions for hours worked (i.e., services or work performed by an employee), and because you will not be performing any work from 5/4-6/30/2020, no contributions will be made to either plan. Thus, no retirement contributions will be deducted from your paycheck during this time period. There also will be no “hours worked” reported to SERS or PSERS during this time period.

If you have additional questions regarding how your retirement benefit may be impacted, please contact a SERS or PSERS retirement counselor:

SERS: 1-800-633-5461
PSERS: 1-888-773-7748

The University’s TIAA plan does not require that compensation recognized for contributions be tied to direct services performed. For that reason, if you participate in a TIAA plan, both employer and employee contributions will continue during the time you receive 50% of your pay; thus, retirement contributions will continue to be de deducted from your paycheck during this time period.

I received 100% of my pay from 3/15-5/3/2020, and I recorded non-working time in order to receive my full pay. Will that non-working time be recognized for retirement purposes?

If you participate in SERS or PSERS, contributions were inadvertently made for the time period 3/15-5/3/2020 for non-working time. Because SERS and PSERS generally recognize contributions for hours worked (i.e., services or work performed) and you did not perform any work from 3/15-5/3/2020, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has informed the University that no contributions should have been made to either plan. Penn State will work with both SERS and PSERS to correct the contributions and hours that were inadvertently reported. For the contributions that were deducted from your paycheck during this time period, you will receive a refund which will appear in a future biweekly or monthly paycheck.

Note that if you worked for some period of time between 3/15-5/3/2020 and were also paid for time not worked (e.g., you are scheduled to work 40 hours per week; you worked 30 hours; and, you were paid 10 hours for non-working time), those contributions and hours attributable to the non-working time were also inadvertently reported to SERS and PSERS and will be corrected.

If you have additional questions on how your retirement benefit may be impacted, please contact a SERS or PSERS retirement counselor:

SERS: 1-800-633-5461
PSERS: 1-888-773-7748

The University’s TIAA plan does not require that compensation recognized for contributions be tied to direct services performed. For that reason, if you participate in a TIAA plan, both employer and employee contributions were correctly made in connection with the pay you received from 3/15-5/3/2020.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs for Penn State Faculty & Instructors

I have been quarantined as a close contact of someone with COVID-19-like symptoms. I feel fine. If their test comes back negative, can I go back to work?

Possibly not. Because of the potential of false negative tests, the CDC recommends that close contacts of a confirmed or probable case remain in quarantine for 14 days.

The CDC guidelines outline scenarios supporting the 14-day quarantine. Also please review the decision-flow-chart on the HR website for additional information.

Where can I find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

CDC

Penn State’s Coronavirus site

Are there cases at Penn State?

As of Tuesday, March 24, there is one case at University Park campus.

Are there any Penn State campuses closed?

At this time, no Penn State campus is closed. 

Are classes currently scheduled?

Yes, at this time, all classes, with the exception of those delivered by the College of Medicine, should be taught remotely as scheduled. 

Are faculty and staff still required to report to work?

Yes. At this time, as Penn State campuses remain open for faculty and staff. However, the University expects that supervisors will work with their staff to accommodate telecommuting opportunities, as needed, for staff members  whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule for part or all of the work week. 
 
Faculty members are expected to meet their faculty obligations during this period, including conducting online instruction for classes. All courses should be taught synchronously at the time that they are scheduled. This is important for three reasons. First, it will avoid time conflicts that will otherwise arise for students if faculty are independently moving the time of their classes. Second, students who receive financial aid through the Pennsylvania State Grant will lose access to this aid if courses are not delivered synchronously. Finally, this will enable our technology to function well and support course delivery.

Are there options for employees to telework?

Yes. While Penn State campuses remain open at this time for faculty and staff, the University expects that supervisors will work with their staff, as needed, to accommodate telecommuting opportunities for staff members whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule. Employees should talk to their supervisor and Unit HR to discuss their telecommuting needs and options. To facilitate these arrangements, the University will make a short-form telecommuting agreement available for supervisors to use. This agreement will waive the current University requirement that the Workers' Compensation and Environmental Health Offices be contacted to work with the telecommuter and their supervisor in setting up physical telecommuting arrangements.
 
For staff members whose position does not lend itself to full telecommuting, the University encourages supervisors to be creative and flexible with the available workload to ensure that staff are able to work. 
 
For staff whose positions are not suitable for telecommuting, they will continue to report to work unless instructed otherwise. We will continue to ensure that all staff who are working on-site receive appropriate personal protective equipment and training, if necessary, to perform their jobs.

If employees need to care for loved ones or if local school districts close, can employees work from home?

Yes, if their position is one that lends itself to telecommuting. The telecommuting guidelines permit flexible scheduling, so long as the employee is able to meet their obligations and be available when asked to be available by their supervisor.

Are on-campus childcare centers remaining open?

The University has made the decision to temporarily close the Bennett Family Center and the Child Care Center at Hort Woods effective Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. Centers managed by Bright Horizons at the Harrisburg and Behrend campuses, as well as Daybridge in Innovation Park are also temporarily closed effective Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. Families will be informed of any changes to the operations of the child care centers.

What resources does the University offer that can help instructors develop plans?

The university has multiple resources available to help faculty members successfully make this transition. Instructors have the following available options:

  • Reach out to colleagues who have experience in teaching remotely and online.
  • Instructional design support to help develop alternative methods and pedagogies; [email protected] that offers a quick start to delivering courses remotely through tools such as Canvas, Kaltura, and Zoom. 

What if I’m not familiar with the resources available to help instructors develop plans?

Individual help is available by reaching out to instructor’s respective Dean.

How will my students become informed of my plans as we move to remote teaching?

Faculty and instructors are expected to communicate any changes to the course to students so that students know how to access course materials and about any changes to the syllabus, assignments, and grading during this period of remote delivery of classes.

If I have a personal emergency, illness, professional travel, or other obligation, do I cancel class?

Instructors should not cancel classes but should work with their Dean to ensure that teaching obligations are met.

What countries does the CDC include in the Level 3 categorization?

The most up-to-date list of Level 3 countries may be found on the CDC website.

At this time, can I travel to the Level 3 countries?

Consistent with CDC travel guidelines, Penn State is restricting University-affiliated travel for faculty and staff to CDC Level 3 countries without the approval of the provost or university risk officer. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged. Upon return to the United States, travelers to these countries will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period before being permitted on campus.

What are the number of days that faculty and staff need to be quarantined prior to returning to work if arriving from a CDC Level 3 country?

14-days

What guidelines and requirements apply to faculty members and administrators who return from a CDC Level 3 country?

  • Self-quarantine for 14 days

  • Unless ill, faculty and staff employees are expected to meet their faculty obligations while under self-quarantine and should consult with their unit executive on how best to meet their teaching, research, and service responsibilities during this period.

  • If you become symptomatic you should contact Penn State Occupational Medicine ([email protected]) 814-863-8492 immediately.

Where can I find more information about the Family Medical Leave?

See HRG11.

Can I still travel to countries for personal reasons after the date on which the CDC adds them to the Level 3 list?

The University strongly discourages personal travel to CDC Level 3 Countries. Upon return to the United States, travelers will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period, and will not be paid during the quarantine period, unless they use accrued time off or have been approved to work remotely.

Will Penn State require me to travel to a Level 3 country for business purposes?

No.

A visiting scholar or visitor is coming to campus, can they still come?

Not at this time. All visitors scheduled to arrive on campus prior to Monday, May 11, 2020 will be asked to reschedule their visits. 

We are currently interviewing candidates for faculty positions, how should we handle the upcoming interviews?

  1. Use virtual modalities such as Zoom to prioritize the health of candidates and participants, and their families.
  2. All scheduled on-site campus interviews for domestic candidates should be held virtually or rescheduled for after Monday, March 30 and for international candidates after Monday, April 20
  3. Units have the authority to either postpone the search or decide to conduct an entirely virtual search. As you structure the interview process, please strive to make interviews as consistent as possible for each candidate. 

Where can I find more information as it relates to research programs at Penn State?

Standards related to research-related activities for the University can be found on the Office of the Vice President's website

If I have further questions about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), who do I reach out to?

If you further questions you should contact Penn State Occupational Medicine ([email protected]) 814-863-8492.

If I have question while I am working remotely, who do I reach out to? 

Penn State Information Technology has created a website to answer your questions and provide links to resources that faculty and staff may need to prepare for their remote work.  

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs for Penn State Staff Members

I have been quarantined as a close contact of someone with COVID-19-like symptoms. I feel fine. If their test comes back negative, can I go back to work?

Possibly not. Because of the potential of false negative tests, the CDC recommends that close contacts of a confirmed or probable case remain in quarantine for 14 days.

The CDC guidelines outline scenarios supporting the 14-day quarantine. Also please review the decision-flow-chart on the HR website for additional information.

Where can I find the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

CDC

Penn State’s Coronavirus site

Are there cases at Penn State?

As of Tuesday, March 24, there is one case at University Park campus.

Are there any Penn State campuses closed?

At this time, no Penn State campus is closed. 

Will there be specific guidance outlined for technical service employees?

Technical service employees should refer to the staff information. If there is anything different to outline for these employees it will be highlighted and noted for technical service staff.

Are faculty and staff still required to report to work?

Yes. At this time, as Penn State campuses remain open for faculty and staff. However, the University expects that supervisors will work with their staff to accommodate telecommuting opportunities, as needed, for staff members  whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule for part or all of the work week. 
 
Faculty members are expected to meet their faculty obligations during this period, including conducting online instruction for classes. All courses should be taught synchronously at the time that they are scheduled. This is important for three reasons. First, it will avoid time conflicts that will otherwise arise for students if faculty are independently moving the time of their classes. Second, students who receive financial aid through the Pennsylvania State Grant will lose access to this aid if courses are not delivered synchronously. Finally, this will enable our technology to function well and support course delivery.

Are there options for employees to telework?

Yes. While Penn State campuses remain open at this time for faculty and staff, the University expects that supervisors will work with their staff, as needed, to accommodate telecommuting opportunities for staff members whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule. Employees should talk to their supervisor and Unit HR to discuss their telecommuting needs and options. To facilitate these arrangements, the University will make a short-form telecommuting agreement available for supervisors to use. This agreement will waive the current University requirement that the Workers' Compensation and Environmental Health Offices be contacted to work with the telecommuter and their supervisor in setting up physical telecommuting arrangements.
 
For staff members whose position does not lend itself to full telecommuting, the University encourages supervisors to be creative and flexible with the available workload to ensure that staff are able to work. 
 
For staff whose positions are not suitable for telecommuting, they will continue to report to work unless instructed otherwise. We will continue to ensure that all staff who are working on-site receive appropriate personal protective equipment and training, if necessary, to perform their jobs.

If employees need to care for loved ones or if local school districts close, can employees work from home?

Yes, if their position is one that lends itself to telecommuting. The telecommuting guidelines permit flexible scheduling, so long as the employee is able to meet their obligations and be available when asked to be available by their supervisor.

Are on-campus childcare centers remaining open?

The University has made the decision to temporarily close the Bennett Family Center and the Child Care Center at Hort Woods effective Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. Centers managed by Bright Horizons at the Harrisburg and Behrend campuses, as well as Daybridge in Innovation Park are also temporarily closed effective Monday, March 16, 2020 until further notice. Families will be informed of any changes to the operations of the child care centers.

What is the process for notifying the appropriate department if our unit has an employee who needs to self-quarantine or may have symptoms?

If you become symptomatic you should contact Penn State Occupational Medicine ([email protected]) 814-863-8492 immediately.

What countries does the CDC include in the Level 3 categorization?

The most up-to-date list of Level 3 countries may be found on the CDC website.

At this time, can I travel to the Level 3 countries?

Consistent with CDC travel guidelines, Penn State is restricting University-affiliated travel for faculty and staff to CDC Level 3 countries without the approval of the provost or university risk officer. Personal travel to these countries is also strongly discouraged. Upon return to the United States, travelers to these countries will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period before being permitted on campus.

What are the number of days that staff need to be quarantined prior to returning to work if arriving from a CDC Level 3 country?

14-days

What guidelines and requirements apply to staff members who traveled to a country and returned after it was designated by the CDC as a Level 3 country?

  • Self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Returning staff will receive 100% of their pay during the quarantine period and will not be required to apply any of their accrued time off toward the absence
  • Unless ill, staff employees are expected to meet their obligations while under self-quarantine and should consult with thei unit executive on how best to meet their responsibilities during this period.
  • Staff who become symptomatic should contact Penn State Occupational Medicine ([email protected]) 814-863-8492 immediately.
  • At the supervisor’s discretion, staff who are not ill may be required to work from home during the quarantine period.

Where can I find more information about the Family Medical Leave?

See HRG11.

What if I am not traveling to a Level 3 country, however I am traveling to an area that there has been confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Am I required to self-quarantine?

Please refer to the University coronavirus website as well as the CDC Guidelines for travel.

Can I still travel to countries for personal reasons after the date on which the CDC adds them to the Level 3 list?

The University strongly discourages personal travel to CDC Level 3 countries. Upon return to the United States, travelers will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine period and will not be paid during the quarantine period, unless they use accrued time off or have been approved to work remotely.

Will Penn State require me to travel to a Level 3 country for business purposes?

No.

I am a new employee and have limited sick time to use. What can I do if I need to self-quarantine or become ill?

Per HR16 employees are eligible for unpaid leave up to one month if they are within their first six months of employment. If employed over six months, additional unpaid leave is available. Please refer to the policy for the outline of eligible leave based on your length of employment at the time your leave begins. Please contact Absence Management for leave information and required documentation.

Should I report to work if I do not feel well but don’t believe I have been exposed to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

Employees with symptoms of acute respiratory illness are encouraged to not come to work until they no longer have a fever and other symptoms for at least 24 hours. Employees should also follow up with their medical provider as necessary. *Technical Service Employees: Any sick absences from February 29, 2020 through and including Saturday, March 21, 2020 will not be included in the calculation of whether a technical-service employee meets the sick-leave standard calculation for job bidding and lateral transfer purposes outlined in Article 12, Job Vacancies, Sections 12.1(b) and 12.4(b) of the collective bargaining agreement.

If I have further questions about the COVID-19 (Coronavirus), who do I reach out to?

If you further questions you should contact Penn State Occupational Medicine ([email protected]) 814-863-8492.

If I have question while I am working remotely, who do I reach out to? 

Penn State Information Technology has created a website to answer your questions and provide links to resources that faculty and staff may need to prepare for their remote work.  

COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) FAQS FOR PENN STATE EMPLOYEES RECEIVING 50% PAY IN MAY-JULY 2020

Related to Thursday, April 23, 2020, message from Penn State President Eric J. Barron

Questions regarding this information should be directed to your HR Strategic Partner or HR Consultant 

How were the positions identified to receive 50 percent of their wages selected? What were the criteria? 

Penn State joins a multitude of other universities and colleges facing similar serious fiscal situations and critical choices to avoid impacting their core missions of teaching, research and service, as they contend with the unprecedented financial challenges caused by the global pandemic. Our economy has been crippled by the need to enact social distancing. And no enterprise is immune, including Penn State. 

At this time, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19, some of our employees do not have work they can perform. In order to support these employees despite the lack of work at this time, the University will continue to pay them 50% of their salary from May 4 to July 30. These employees will continue to receive their current benefits and pay the same premium contributions. This includes our Teamsters Local Union No. 8 employees, as the University and their representatives have reached a tentative agreement, which we anticipate finalizing in the near future. We are planning to direct federal stimulus funds received by the University intended for institutional support, separate from student support, to help make this possible. 

How will I know if I’ve been identified to receive a payroll reduction? 

Your supervisor and HR consultant will reach out to you and assist in this process and answer any questions you may have. 

Can I use my unused, accrued vacation time and or personal holidays to delay this action? 

No. The payroll reduction period will begin on the listed effective date and cannot be postponed. When the payroll reduction period ends, any earned sick hours, vacation hours and holiday time will remain intact. 

If I have a pay reduction, will I be eligible for state unemployment benefits? 

Employees receiving 50 percent of their current salary may be eligible for unemployment benefits under Pennsylvania law and also may be eligible for stimulus money from the federal government. To begin the unemployment application process, visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits/Pages/default.aspx. If you have additional questions about unemployment, contact your HR consultant.

Will the Employee Assistance Fund (EAF) accept applications while employees are receiving 50% pay? 

Yes, an employee seeking assistance may submit an application as outlined in Policy HR100 - Employee Assistance Fund. 

What happens to my health care, dental, and vision benefits? 

Employees will retain these benefits based on their current elections and at the same employee cost for the duration of the payroll reduction period. 

Will I be able to contact HealthAdvocate for Employee Assistance Program services? 

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) will be available to affected employees throughout the duration of the payroll reduction period. 

What happens to my life insurance during this time?

Faculty and staff will retain their employer-provided group term life policy of $50,000.  If you are enrolled in the optional age-graded life insurance, your contributions are based on increments of salary between one- and eight-time(s) your salary, with a maximum of $1.5 million. Your contributions and amount of the death benefit will not change during the payroll reduction period. 

Available only to Technical Service employees, the optional level premium life insurance plan is based on bands of salary and will remain at the current level during the payroll reduction period. Technical Service employees also will retain their employer-provided group term life insurance policy of $20,000. 

How and when will I know if I return to the payroll at 100 percent? 

University leaders will be communicating before July 31 on next steps and on any additional steps that need to be taken to deal with the impact of the pandemic. Your supervisor and HR consultant will notify you of any changes to your pay. 

If two people in same household work for Penn State, and one of those individuals is either laid off or receives 50% of their salary, while the other is retained at full salary and benefits – how are benefits determined for the couple/family? 

Both individuals would continue to receive health benefits they selected previously at the same coverage levels and employee premium contributions. 

What happens on Friday, July 31, 2020? 

University leaders will communicate before July 31 on next steps and any additional steps that need to be taken to manage the impacts of the pandemic.