University releases student sanctions for COVID-19 policy violations

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State’s multi-layered Back to State health and safety plan for the fall semester, the University announced mandatory requirements for students — including health and safety expectations, testing and contact tracing requirements, and masking and social distancing policies — before their return to campus. While the overwhelming majority of students have and continue to comply with the safety policies, Penn State’s Office of Student Conduct has responded to a number of reported violations.

Since Aug. 17, the University has issued 1,277 sanctions for violation of various COVID-19-related restrictions and policies, including refusal to wear a mask or face covering in public, non-adherence to Penn State’s quarantine/isolation guidelines, and failure to observe guidance that strictly moderates gatherings both on and off campus. 

“The University’s top priority in response to the pandemic has been the health and safety of our community. We are grateful for the seriousness with which most of our students take the virus’ threat, but we will continue to hold accountable those students who threaten our community by violating our clearly stated expectations,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. “The consistent compliance of most students continues to be a source of encouragement for the universal compliance among students that we seek, and the decline in conduct referrals in recent weeks has been pleasing.”

Of the sanctions, 1,046 students have received warnings, which may include a discussion about the situation, an explanation of the misconduct and expectations going forward, and a warning that further a violation may result in more serious consequences; 204 have been placed on probation or probation with a transcript notation, which is reserved for multiple or more serious offenses; and 10 have been issued suspensions from the University, which prohibits them from registration, course attendance and on-campus living for the remainder of the academic year. 

An additional 17 students have lost on-campus housing — most notably for violations against the stringent gathering and no-guest policies. These students have been given appropriate time to make new arrangements and move out of University housing. They will be refunded a pro-rated portion of unused housing fees, but will be prohibited from living on campus for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year. 

“The health of our community depends on both individual and collective action,” Sims said. “We will continue to work closely with student leaders and local authorities to encourage the necessary behavior among all students, but I could not be more pleased by the personal and public responsibility so many of our students have consistently demonstrated through this challenging time.”

The University has continued to emphasize the importance of following its health and safety measures along with local and state laws, and laid out the consequences for students who don’t comply, including for those living in campus residence halls and off campus

Additional information about COVID-19 Student Conduct expectations can be found on the Student Affairs website. For the latest information about the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including a link to Penn State’s COVID-19 Dashboard and other key resources, visit virusinfo.psu.edu.

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