The University has been made aware of COVID-19 cases that affect our campus. Cal U is working to mitigate risk for our students, our employees, and the communities where we live and work. Learn more

Cal U's plan for remote operations aligns with the State System of Higher Education's Fall 2020 Framework and the University Operational Framework.

Cal U Campus.

Guide to Operations


Learn about Cal U’s plan to provide a rigorous and engaging academic experience while protecting our campus community.

Read the Guide 

Learn about our Shared Commitment


Student on computer at Cal U.

FAQ for Students


The FAQ for Students has answers to many of your questions.




To reduce the risk to our University community, no in-person University events will be held on campus.

Family members who have additional questions may call the Cal U Information Hotline at 724-938-5600 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please leave a message so we can return your call.

It’s important for you to have timely, accurate information as Cal U responds to the evolving public health situation. This webpage will be updated with current, accurate information pertaining to Cal U. Please check back regularly so you can stay informed.

Important Messages to Students, Faculty and Staff

May 21, 2021: University moves to Level 2, sets mask guidelines


To our students, faculty and staff,

As Pennsylvania relaxes its limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings, our University is “leveling up” for the summer term.

Beginning today, Cal U will operate at Level 2 as defined by our Guide to Operations, which has served as a blueprint for campus activities since the start of the pandemic.

  • Most Summer College classes will be offered online – our usual practice in recent years. (We expect to deliver a full schedule of in-person classes this fall.)
  • Telework is winding down, and all staff will return to campus no later than June 7.
  • Masks are no longer required outdoors, although social distancing is still recommended where possible.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated – two weeks after their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – are not required to wear masks indoors, although social distancing is still recommended where possible. Fully vaccinated individuals who wish to continue wearing masks may do so.
  • Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should follow CDC guidance and continue taking precautions, including the requirement to wear a mask indoors except when they are alone.
  • In keeping with the University’s core values of Integrity, Civility and Responsibility, we trust that our students and employees will monitor their own health and use the “honor system” when deciding how to interact safely with others.
  • Out of respect for individuals’ privacy, it is not appropriate to inquire about the vaccination status of others.
  • The University will return to hosting some camps and conferences, with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test required for guests at overnight events.

Health and safety concerns remain paramount, of course, even as vaccinations become readily available and coronavirus infections decline. We will continue to monitor the public health situation, as well as CDC and state Health Department guidelines, as our campus community gradually returns to pre-pandemic practices.

Looking ahead, we expect to resume fully in-person (Level 1) operations this fall. Moving to Level 2 this summer will allow us to transition gradually as we prepare to welcome students back to classes in August.

Together, we can make Cal U a safer place to work and learn. Please continue to care for yourself and those around you. 


Robert J. Thorn
Interim President
Pronouns: he/him/his

April 2, 2021: Coronavirus Relief Funds

To all Cal U students:

The federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA) includes funds to assist institutions of higher education and university students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Colleges and universities received CRRSA HEERF II funding based on a formula outlined in the legislation, which also details how universities are permitted to use this new round of funding. 

Cal U received about $2.1 million to provide emergency financial assistance directly to eligible students. Awards will be made to approximately 3,400 students for the Spring 2021 semester. Awards range from $590 to $700, based on the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) on the student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Who is eligible for CRRSA HEERF II funding?
Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Education allow Cal U to distribute CRRSA HEERF II funds as direct emergency aid to domestic undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in on-campus and online degree programs during the Spring 2021 semester, and who have a FAFSA on file.

This includes full-time and part-time degree-seeking students with a permanent U.S. address, whether they are living in on-campus residence halls, living at Vulcan Village or another off-campus location, commuting to Cal U for classes this spring, or studying 100% online.

How and when will my relief funds arrive?
Cal U began disbursing this aid on April 1, 2021. If you have direct deposit set up with Student Accounts, this money will be deposited to your bank account; it will NOT be used to reduce any balance you may owe to the University. It typically takes at least three days for a direct deposit to be posted to your account. If you do not have direct deposit, you will receive a check by mail at your permanent address. Checks will be mailed next week. You can sign up for direct deposit on VIP; look under the “Billing” tab for details.

The continuing public health crisis has changed all of our lives, and I appreciate the sacrifices you are making to keep yourselves, your families and our community safe. Please remember that Cal U is here to help. For more information about student services, look for the Coronavirus: FAQ for Students or use the search feature on our homepage,

Please continue to take care of yourself and those around you.


Robert J. Thorn
Interim President

February 18, 2021: Our plans for Fall 2021

To our Cal U community,

I am pleased to announce that Cal U is planning to “level up” and return to full on-campus operations this fall.

Because our spring semester has gotten off to a strong start, we are optimistic that we can offer more in-person classes and a campus experience that allows us to work, live and learn together.

Of course, your health and safety will remain our priority as we plan for Fall 2021. We will continue to monitor conditions on our campus and in the broader community, to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, and to follow CDC and state Health Department guidelines.

Our Guide to Operations will continue to serve as a blueprint as we progress toward our goal of returning to Level 1 for Fall 2021. Should conditions change, it will guide us as we adjust our University’s plans.

Our Cal U community has shown remarkable resilience over the past year. Since our return to campus operations in January, your shared commitment to the well-being of your fellow Vulcans has been commendable.

For now, our Level 3 guidelines remain in place – but please continue to stay positive, stay connected, and stay vigilant as we all look ahead to brighter days.


Robert Thorn
Interim President

January 15, 2021: SPRING START: Self-screening app for employees

To: All Faculty and Staff

As one of many efforts to keep our campus community safer as we move to Level 3 operations, Cal U is offering all employees the ability to utilize a customized Campus Shield COVID-19 self-screening app before coming to campus each day.  

The screening process involves answering a few questions and just takes a few seconds. 

Faculty or staff members whose self-screening indicates potential exposure to COVID-19 will receive follow-up instructions via the app. Those who report being symptom-free will receive a time-sensitive badge, good for 12 hours, showing that they passed the self-screening that day

The University strongly encourages employees to utilize the mobile app for ease of use, but a web application is available. If you choose to use the web application, you can print the result rather than having it appear on your mobile device. If you cannot access the website before coming to work, you may use a designated campus computer immediately when reporting for the day.

Employees can begin using the app on January 18, 2021. This app will replace required daily temperature checks.  


  1. Using your phone, select the appropriate Campus Shield link:
    1. For iOS:
    2. For Android: 
  2. Next, register and create a profile within the Campus Shield app. You must register with your email address to access the customized app. Once you have registered, allow/accept all prompts. When you finish with registration, click the “COVID Health Assessment” tile to complete your assessment.
  3. Use the app each day to answer the self-screening questions. After providing your answers, you will receive one of the following:
    1. Green badge – This indicates you have passed the screening.   
    2. Red notice – This indicates you may have been exposed to COVID-19. Follow the instructions on the screen.

NOTE: Employees may decline to answer and may opt out at any time.

The mobile app is preferred for ease of use, but the Campus Shield self-screening tool is available online as well. Use these instructions to access the tool using a laptop or desktop computer.

  1. Go to
  2. Save the link to your favorites.
  3. Follow the prompts:
    1. Accept the terms and conditions
    2. Provide a unique ID – enter First and Last Name
    3. Select the appropriate role
    4. Answer the questions
    5. Right-click the mouse and select Print
  4. Access the website each day to answer the questions and print your results.

NOTE: Employees may decline to answer and may opt out at any time.


The University understands that you may have privacy concerns about information collected through Campus Shield. Here is a breakdown of the information the University will receive: 

  • When you register, this information is collected:
    • Name
    • University email – required to register
    • Phone number – optional
    • No other personal information is collected
  • When you complete the self-assessment, the University receives this information:
    • Name and time of assessment
    • Assessment result – Failed or Passed only. The University will NOT receive answers to individual questions
    • Email
    • Phone Number (if provided in enrollment)

Monitoring our own health is an important way to keep our campus community safer. Thank you for using Cal U’s Campus Shield app.



Eric Guiser
Director of Human Resources
Department of Human Resources

January 14, 2021: SPRING START: COVID-19 Testing for Employees

To our faculty and staff,

As part of our commitment to your health and safety, Cal U will implement a COVID-19 testing plan for the spring semester. Your participation can help to reduce the spread of coronavirus on our campus.

Our goal is to test 1,200 members of our campus community before the semester begins, and as many as 650 people each week for the rest of the semester. This will help us to identify positive cases, locate those who have been exposed and recommend proper care.

Testing for employees is voluntary and free of charge. (So you are aware, testing is required for student-athletes and students living in residence halls. Students who report COVID-19 symptoms, who may have been exposed to the virus or who volunteer to be tested also can receive a test at no cost.)

Read the University’s COVID-19 Testing Strategy Summary here.


Testing will be performed by Virus Geeks, our campus testing partner. You must set up a Virus Geeks account before you can receive free COVID-19 testing on campus.

To create your account, use the QR Code at the bottom of this email to reach the Virus Geeks registration site, or visit Then follow the registration instructions. You must use your campus email address (ending in to be part of the campus testing program.

As part of the signup process, you must provide all information required by the CDC: age, gender, race, address and phone number. You also will be asked for information about your health insurance. The University will pay all costs for testing that aren’t covered by your insurance plan.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or you have been exposed to someone who is ill, stay away from others and contact your healthcare provider for further instructions.

Do not come to work if you are ill, have tested positive or have recently been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. 

Many people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, or symptom-free. “Surveillance testing” can identify those individuals, so they can isolate themselves and stop the spread of infection.

Asymptomatic employees have two testing options. In both cases, registration with Virus Geeks is required. 

Option 1: Beginning January 27, testing for employees will take place on the Mezzanine Level of the Convocation Center. The testing site is open to employees from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Testing will be provided on a walk-in basis only.

Option 2: Beginning February 1, employees may pick up a sample-collection kit between noon and 3 p.m. Mondays or Thursdays at the Multipurpose Room in Carter Hall. Collect your own sample and return it to the Convocation Center testing site during its hours of operation, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The test sample must be returned to the Virus Geeks testing site within 12 hours of being taken. 

Employees who are unable to drop off the sample during Virus Geeks’ operating hours may make an appointment by calling either the Environmental Health and Safety Office or the Health Center; drop-off times are limited to ensure that samples remain viable until they reach the testing lab. 

Test results will be provided within 72 hours. You will receive an email or text message with your results.

The Health Center also receives your results. Employees who test positive will follow the campus exposure policy and the instructions provided by the Office of Human Resources. 

Test statistics ONLY will be reported on the COVID-19 dashboard on the University website. No personally identifying information will be reported on the website.          

Cal U’s testing program is designed to mitigate risk for every member of the campus community. It is one of many steps we are taking, together, to create a safer work environment for us all.

Robert J. Thorn
Vice President
Administration and Finance

January 8, 2021: SPRING START: Key Dates for a New Semester

Good morning!

In about two weeks we’ll begin a new semester – and once again, life at Cal U will be different than ever before.

As you know, we will be operating at Level 3, with about 50% of classes offered on campus and a limited number of students in our residence halls. Here are some key dates:

  • 11: Staff begins a phased return to campus. Area vice presidents will notify staff members in their areas about specific start dates and schedules.
  • 21-23: Move-in dates for students in on-campus residence halls. To reduce congestion, move-in is by appointment only. Students with questions about housing should call 724-938-4444 or email
  • 25: Classes begin. Students should check their schedules to confirm whether classes are remote-learning (“R” in the section code and “REMOTE” as the building), online (“G” or “W” in the section code) or on campus in a specific building and room. Students who wish to attend an on-campus class remotely, via Zoom, should contact their professor.

Please check the Academic Calendar for other important dates. To reduce travel to and from campus during the semester, there is no spring break. Classes end April 30. Final exams will be held May 3-7. This schedule applies for all classes, whether they are offered on campus, online or through real-time remote technology.

Over the next two weeks, you will receive a series of emails to help you prepare for changes in classes, activities and campus life. Look for SPRING START in the subject line. These emails will cover important topic s such as COVID-19 testing and instructions for downloading Cal U’s customized self-screening app.

I urge you to watch your campus email and read these messages carefully. The pandemic is still with us, and it will take all of us, working together, to make the Spring 2021 semester a success.

Geraldine M. Jones
University President

December 18, 2020: Spring Semester Plans

To all students, faculty and staff,

The winter holidays bring light to the darkest season of the year. As we all look ahead to brighter days, I want to update you on plans for the spring semester.

The plan we announced November 2 has not changed: Next month Cal U expects to “level up” and resume some in-person classes and campus activities, while continuing to offer real-time remote learning for students who feel safer at home.

Our comprehensive reopening plan asks everyone on campus to play a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19, so we can learn, live and work together as safely as possible. Your participation in this effort is essential.

At Level 3, all students, faculty and staff are expected to practice good hygiene, wear a mask in all public areas, stay six feet apart and follow to our guidelines for COVID-19 testing. In addition, everyone is encouraged to complete a daily health screening using a smartphone app customized for Cal U.

You can read our COVID-19 Statement of Policy: Level 3 here.

As always, your health is our primary concern. Because health officials project a rise in COVID-19 cases after the winter holidays, Cal U has planned a late-January start to the semester, with no spring break. Those plans may change based on CDC or state Health Department guidance, as well as conditions on campus and within our community.

More details will be provided by mid-January. For now, here is a snapshot of what you can expect next semester.


Spring 2021 classes will begin January 25 and follow the academic calendar. We expect to deliver about 50% of courses on campus; many of these will be labs, studio and performance courses, or courses that require specialized facilities and equipment. About 95% of classrooms are outfitted with technology that enables students to attend remotely if they prefer.

Student schedules indicate whether a course will be taught in person, via real-time remote learning or asynchronously online. Classes that have a section code beginning with “R” and a building identified as “Remote” will be 100% remote learning sections. Students will be notified by email if a class originally scheduled for on-campus delivery must be changed to remote learning.

To reduce class size and maintain social distancing, some on-campus courses will be taught in a hybrid format. For example, 50% of students in a Tuesday/Thursday class might attend in person on Tuesdays and remotely on Thursdays, while the other 50% follow the opposite schedule.

Masks that cover the nose and mouth will be required in all academic buildings, including classrooms, at all times.

Students should check D2L for details or contact their professors for more information.

Campus life and student activities

Residence halls will be open, with most students in single rooms. No guests will be permitted.

Dining services will be available. The Gold Rush will be open from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily (closed 3:15-3:45 p.m. for cleaning). Sycamore Bistro (7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) and Umami (11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) will provide “to go” meals only; diners must use the mobile app to order meals from these two locations. All hours are subject to change. In all locations, diners must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth unless they are seated and eating or drinking.

Herron Recreation and Fitness Center will open its cardio and weight rooms if state regulations permit, and socially distanced group fitness classes will be offered. The aquatics area, climbing wall, racquetball courts and locker rooms will be closed. Members must wear face masks in the rec center and swipe their Cal Cards when entering and leaving the facility.

To avoid gatherings that could spread the coronavirus, meetings of student clubs and organizations – and most other campus activities – will be held virtually this semester.

Tuition remains the same, but some student fees are reduced during Level 3 operations.

Health assessment app

Our shared commitment to campus safety requires diligence on the part of students, faculty and staff. Your participation matters! Every member of the campus community will have the opportunity to download and use a free health screening app customized for Cal U.

This easy-to-use app is available free of charge for iPhone and Android phones. Individuals without smartphones will be able to check in at key campus locations. You will receive instructions for downloading and using the app before the start of the spring semester.

Once you have installed the app, you are encouraged to check in daily and answer questions to screen for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus. If you’re experiencing symptoms, the app will provide guidance about your next steps.

The app does not collect your personal information. It is a voluntary self-assessment tool that raises awareness to help us take care of ourselves and those around us.

COVID-19 testing

Individuals with symptoms should contact the Health Center in Carter Hall. For those without symptoms, COVID-19 tests will be administered free of charge on the Mezzanine Level of the Convocation Center.

To mitigate risk for everyone on campus, testing for COVID-19 is required for all student-athletes and all students living in on-campus residence halls.

Commuter students are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19 as well. Our goal is to test 25% of commuter students in each testing period. Faculty and staff working on campus also may choose to be tested.

Unless they can travel home safely, resident students who test positive will be isolated on campus and their condition will be monitored. Non-resident students and employees who test positive must remain off campus until they meet CDC guidelines for returning to school or work.

Appropriate case investigation (“contact tracing”) will be conducted when positive cases are reported. Individuals identified as “close contacts” of someone with COVID-19 will be notified and required to follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine.

Learn more

Our University is committed to your well-being. For detailed information, including Cal U’s Guide to Operations, our FAQ for Students, an updated list of confirmed COVID-19 cases and more, visit

Please enjoy your holiday break safely. We look forward to seeing you in January!

With best wishes,

Geraldine M. Jones
University President

November 2, 2020: Cal U's Plan for Spring 2021


To our campus community,

After a full semester of remote learning, it’s time to “level up.”

Responding to the needs of our students – especially those in programs with a significant hands-on component – Cal U expects to operate at Level 3, as outlined in the Guide to Operations, during the Spring 2021 semester.

That means we will resume some in-person classes and on-campus activities this spring, while continuing to offer high-quality, real-time remote learning for students who feel safer staying at home.

I know that many students are eager to return to campus life. But with that choice comes a responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us. We have all seen how quickly the coronavirus can spread if we don’t remain vigilant, and we know how serious COVID-19 can be.

Frequent handwashing, keeping our distance, wearing a mask and monitoring our health – these are the basic steps we all must take to mitigate risk and keep Cal U open. To protect our students, faculty, staff and community neighbors, this spring’s on-campus experience will include some mandatory safety measures:

  • Everyone on campus will be required to wear a face covering inside classrooms and other buildings, and to “mask up” outdoors when they are not able to keep six feet apart.
  • Social distancing will be required in classrooms, dining facilities, the fitness center and other indoor locations. No visitors will be permitted in residence halls.
  • All Cal U students, faculty and staff will be expected to use a customized app to perform a daily self-check for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to campus.

Individuals whose self-check indicates potential exposure to the coronavirus will receive instructions for follow-up care via the app. Those who report being symptom-free will receive a time-sensitive badge that can be used to gain entry to residence halls, classrooms, common areas, offices, workspaces and other campus locations.

The app does not store users’ personal information. More details, including instructions for downloading and using the app, will be provided before the start of spring classes.

Cal U staff will be cleaning and disinfecting on an enhanced schedule this spring, but asuccessful move to Level 3 relies on your cooperation. As we have learned over the past six months, the actions of one individual can ripple outward to affect the entire community.

Our spring reopening plan assumes that you, and every member of our Cal U community, are committed to its success. Please review the document Our Shared Commitment as a reminder of how Cal U’s “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” applies to our pandemic response this spring.

You can read more about our Spring 2021 plans online in the updated Guide to Operations. Our FAQ for Students will be updated soon. For now, here are some highlights:

  • Academic Calendar: Spring classes begin January 25. To reduce the risk of spreading infection , there will be no spring break. Classes end April 30, and final exams will be held May 3-7. This schedule applies to all on-campus and Global Online courses.
  • Academics: About 50% of undergraduate “on-campus” classes will be conducted in person; these primarily will be labs, studio and performance courses, and courses that require specialized facilities and equipment. Most evening graduate courses will be offered in person as well.

The remaining “on-campus” courses will be delivered through real-time remote learning, a hybrid format (blended in-person and remote learning) or entirely online.

Cameras have been installed in classrooms, giving students the option to attend classes virtually if they feel safer at home, are feeling ill, or are self-isolating or in quarantine.

o   In VIP, remote learning sections will be coded with an “R” in the section identifier. For example, course ABC-100-002 would be coded as ABC-100-R02. Remote learning courses meet at a specified day and time.

o   In VIP, online classes are identified with either “G” or “W” as the first character in the section code. Online classes are asynchronous (you complete assignments on your own schedule) and delivered through D2L/Brightspace.

To meet the needs of students and faculty, there will be some changes to the course schedule between now and the start of classes on January 25. If a class is changed from in-person to remote learning or online delivery, or if the day/time of a class meeting is changed, students will be notified by email. Students, please check your campus email daily so you don’t miss important information.

  • On-Campus Housing: Residence halls will be open this spring. With limited exceptions, students will be housed singly, with one student per bedroom/bathroom. Students in majors that require labs and other hands-on coursework will be prioritized when assigning rooms. Student-athletes also will be housed on campus.

Some common areas inside our residence halls will be closed. No visitation is permitted.

  • On-campus Dining: Dining services will be available for resident and commuter students, including students who live at Vulcan Village. Grab-and-go options will be available. Social distancing will be required in dining areas; masks must be worn unless a diner is seated and eating or drinking.
  • Student Life: Manderino Library and the Herron Recreation and Fitness Center will be open; hours and occupancy may be limited. Face coverings and social distancing will be required, and no one may enter without a green badge in the self-check app.
  • Faculty and Staff: Employees will receive information from their division leaders and the Human Resources Office about topics such as telework options and accommodations for health conditions.
  • Testing and quarantine: The Student Health Center will refer students for testing if they have symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.

Employees and non-resident students who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to self-isolate at home and follow medical guidance. Unless they choose to return home and can do so safely, resident students who test positive will be instructed to self-isolate in a designated area on campus, and Health Center staff will monitor their condition.

Cal U is prepared to support the state Health Department with case investigations on campus, and to quarantine resident students who have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.  

Our Spring 2021 plan will empower students to choose the learning style that suits them best. But make no mistake – nothing matters more than the health and safety of our campus community. This plan is subject to change as the coronavirus pandemic evolves.

More news will be shared in the weeks ahead. Please watch your campus email for updates and visit, where you can find a link to our COVID-19 dashboard and other important information.

Meanwhile, let’s stay on track and make this fall semester a success. Keep well and finish strong, Vulcans! I look forward to seeing you in January.

Geraldine M. Jones
University President


The Pennsylvania Department of Health is using the COVIDAlert PA app in a voluntary effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the app and how to download it to your personal digital device.

To reduce your risk of becoming ill, the CDC recommends these commonsense measures:

  • Stay home when you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Use a regular cleaning spray or wipes to clean and disinfect surfaces you touch frequently, such as doorknobs, keyboards, computer mice, cellphones, etc.



The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security program (CARES) Act provides institutions like Cal U with federal funds to offer emergency aid “to provide emergency financial aid grants to students whose lives have been disrupted, many of whom are facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be considered for these funds, degree-seeking students must have been enrolled in a face-to-face, on-campus academic program, have filed a 2019-20 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and have met other eligibility guidelines. 


Studying or working from home? Check our these helpful resources:


Use your Cal U login and password to read the University’s 2020 Pandemic Response Plan and unit/department plans for responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.