Wondering what fall semester is going to look like at Penn State Wilkes-Barre?
What will the campus look like? What about the classrooms? Will there be spaces for students to join remote classes while they’re on campus? Will there still be student activities and events?
We at Penn State Wilkes-Barre have missed having our students on campus and look forward to welcoming everyone back for the fall semester! In preparation for our students’ return, the campus has implemented numerous safety protocols and precautions to prioritize the health of our students, faculty, and staff as we do all we can to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
We want you to know that we are committed to our students’ health and education, and that we appreciate your partnership in these measures.
The health, safety, and well-being of everyone in the Penn-State Wilkes-Barre community is our top priority. Penn State has made decisions based on health information and science to provide learning environments that are as safe as possible. Penn State will meet, or where possible, exceed, the expectations outlined by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s guidelines for colleges and universities, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, wearing face masks, washing hands, adhering to social distancing, and limiting the size of in-person events are critical components in helping maintain the health and safety of the entire campus community. To create a safer environment for everyone, it’s vital to abide by these safety measures—not only on campus, but also in the larger community, where Penn State families and community members may be at greater risk of developing COVID-19 complications. So remember to Mask Up, because it’s not just about you.
Two vending machines will be located on campus to sell gloves, masks and hand sanitizer. All students will be provided with two Penn State masks; these will be distributed on Monday, August 24, and Tuesday, August 25, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. as part of Welcome Week. Students can also pick up their masks in the Police and Public Safety office in Hayfield House on weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Wednesday, August 26 through Friday, September 4.
This fall, Penn State’s faculty members will be offering their classes in a variety of instructional modes—remotely, in-person, or as a hybrid of both (called “COVID mixed" or "CM” for short). All CM courses will include an in-person component. Examples include:
You can watch this video to learn more about what CM courses will look like.
Students can find the instructional modes for their classes by going to the Schedule of Courses and viewing the class detail page. If you need additional assistance, please contact your academic adviser.
The most up-to-date information for students can be found at the Penn State Keep Learning website.
Each classroom and computer lab door will have a sign providing maximum occupancy information to help maintain physical distancing and reduce crowd density in rooms. Classroom seating will be also be marked off to indicate where students may sit.
In addition, study spaces are available around campus where students can attend a class remotely via Zoom or study independently. Some of these areas have computers that students can use, but in many study spaces students will need their own WiFi-enabled device and headset, including a microphone and camera. The study spaces include:
Any empty classroom can also be used as a remote study space; room calendars will be posted outside each room listing availability and occupancy limits.
Students who are taking classes remotely will need a laptop with a camera and speakers. A smartphone will not suffice, and a laptop is better than a Chromebook or tablet. Students also will need strong Internet service and earbuds or headphones. If you do not have earbuds or headphones, you will need to purchase them. They will be important when you are in communal spaces or at home.
Students who do not have a laptop with a camera and speakers can submit a request to borrow a laptop for free for the entire semester. To request a loaner laptop, fill out the Mobile Technology Request form. (You will need your Penn State identification number and password to log in to the form.) Students will be able to use the on-campus computer labs to access Zoom and complete homework, but if you request to borrow a laptop you will be able to take it home with you. If you need to borrow a laptop, please fill out the form as soon as possible.
Wireless Internet access is available in all campus buildings. Wireless access is also available in these outside areas:
Those who do not have good internet service at home can apply for a hotspot through the Mobile Technology Request form. A bandwidth of at least 600 kbps (1.5 Mbps is best) for uploads and downloads is necessary. Most Internet plans exceed this. You can test your internet speed by using Google to search “speedtest” and then clicking on the button to “Run Speed Test.” If you need to apply for a hotspot, please fill out the form as soon as possible.
Several computing labs are available for student use whenever a class is not taking place. The Fortinsky Auditorium (T-101) in the Bell Center for Technology is also being used as a 25-seat computer lab for social distancing purposes. All campus computer labs have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes available. Please wipe your keyboard, mouse and table surface with a disinfecting wipe before and after you use the computer. All campus computer labs have social distancing parameters in place and seating capacity is reduced.
WebLabs is a new offering that provides students and faculty with remote access to Penn State lab computers so that they can connect to the technology resources they need to complete coursework. Weblabs provides all the software that is available on the physical lab computers on campus. This includes specialty software such as programs used in engineering and other scientific disciplines. Any software you have used on campus is now available remotely. Students must enroll in two-factor authentication before using WebLabs if they have not done so already.
Information technology staff are available weekdays between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.; evening and weekend hours are available by appointment. Contact the Wilkes-Barre campus IT Helpdesk at [email protected] or 570-675-9140, or fill out an online help ticket. The campus IT Helpdesk is located in room 108 of the Bell Center for Technology. Walk-in hours will be announced soon.
For answers to common technology questions, visit the Penn State Knowledge Base. If you need immediate technology assistance after regular hours, call the IT Service Desk at University Park (814-865-4357), which is open 24/7.
Food will be available for sale from Metz Food Services, the new campus provider, beginning Monday, August 24. The Hickory Court Café will be open Monday through Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The self-serve Micro Mart will be available in the café during campus hours offering cold beverages, frozen meals, pre-made sandwiches and salads, and snacks. The self-service area includes a microwave for student use.
Student events and activities will still happen; they will, however, be held virtually through fall 2020. For information and guidance concerning student events and student organization advising and activities, contact Jackie Warnick-Piatt (570-675-9284, [email protected]). Weekly Zoom office hours will be maintained throughout the semester.
Traditionally, Welcome Day is the Friday before classes start. This year, our virtual New Student Welcome will be held on Friday, August 21 from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. The Zoom event will kick off with brief introductory remarks by Dr. Dale Jones, Chancellor; Dr. Albert Lozano, Faculty Senate Chair; and Lawrence Corridoni III, SGA President. This will be followed by separate Zoom meetings for each First-Year Seminar section.
August 24 begins our Welcome Week, with activities for all new and returning students. Don’t miss them!
Beginning September 8, the Athletic & Recreation Building (ARB) will open for Penn State Wilkes-Barre students only. Students interested in using the facilities will need to make an appointment during the hours listed below. Details on how to schedule appointments will be announced soon.
Monday and Wednesday:
Tuesday and Thursday:
At this point in time, Penn State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) fall athletics have been postponed until the spring semester. That includes men’s soccer, women’s volleyball and golf at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. Basketball season on campus is scheduled to begin October 1.