Penn State extends remote course delivery through spring semester. Details: Penn State News.

Messages from Dean Lawless and Human Resources

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

March 28, 2020

Members of the College of Education community,

Earlier today, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced an expansion of his "stay-at-home" order to include Centre County. The order, which is intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, takes effect at 8 p.m. today (March 28) and continues until at least April 6.

The order means that all individuals must STAY AT HOME except for certain essential activities and work to provide life-sustaining business and government services.

Individuals may leave their residence ONLY to perform certain individual activities, including:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including, but not limited to, pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home.
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, or to deliver those services or supplies to others, such as getting food and household consumer products, pet food, and supplies necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences. This includes volunteer efforts to distribute meals and other life-sustaining services to those in need.
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing.
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business (see below for details about life-sustaining business activities).
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household.

Gov. Wolf's order specifies that "international students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt from this order and may remain in campus housing." Other exemptions to the order can be found here.

I want to emphasize that the health and safety of our community is at the forefront of this order, and I urge everyone to comply with both the letter and the spirit of this order from the governor. I also want to take the opportunity once again to express my deep appreciation and admiration for all of you and the work you have been doing to keep our educational mission at the forefront. Thank you all for all you are doing. Please, stay safe and stay well.

For the latest information about Penn State's response to the coronavirus, go to and for the latest information from the College of Education, visit our information website


Message from Dean Kim Lawless to students

March 25, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

I cannot say it enough, thank you for working so hard to adjust to remote learning mid-semester. To echo President Barron in the town hall, it is challenging to flip the switch and focus on remote education with only a week's notice. We are all hands on deck to make sure we are delivering to you the education you need, and we appreciate your flexibility and resilience in putting forth your best effort as well. In so many ways you are remarkable, as we go through this transition together.

There was a lot of information shared with students and parents in this afternoon's town hall, led by President Barron, Provost Jones and other members of the University leadership team. Below is some of the guidance that was provided. I want to emphasize that the town hall covered much more than these topics, and what I have included here are summaries of what was discussed. I strongly encourage you to visit where recordings of both that town hall, and this morning's town hall for faculty and staff, will be made available by the University.

  • Emotional support for students: CAPS is open remotely at 814-863-0395. In addition, CAPS offers wellness services online, 24/7. 
  • Academic support for students: Student advising is continuing, and many advisers are reaching out to their students. Students also should work to maintain that connection. Anyone in the College of Education with challenges in reaching their adviser should email Online tutoring is available through Penn State Learning and faculty are holding remote office hours.
  • Satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading: Taking many factors into consideration, Provost Jones and Yvonne Gaudelius, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, shared a plan for grading at the undergraduate level that is as fair and accommodating as possible. More information will be forthcoming from the University, but this plan, which was developed just today (March 24), will put control in the students' hands. They said faculty members will post the grades that students earn at the end of the semester. Students then will have about a week to determine whether they want to keep the letter grade, or switch to “Satisfactory” for a grade of C or better, or special grade designations for a D grade (passing) or a failing grade. Those designations will indicate that the grade was impacted by these extraordinary circumstances. Academic programs are working out the details for how this impacts entrance to major and other situations, and details should be forthcoming later this week. The Graduate School is working on guidance on this topic for graduate students and information will be forthcoming.
  • Financial support for students: The University has been fundraising to add money to the Student Care Advocacy Fund, which is set up to assist students with great need. Email for information on how to request aid.
  • Commencement: First and foremost, degrees will be awarded on time as soon as they are earned, particularly because of the implications this has on graduate school and employment for our graduates. The University also understands the importance of celebrating your achievements, and is working on a two-phase plan to do that. Phase one is to deliver a virtual commencement, with all of the typical pageantry of commencement, and with graduates' names displayed on the screen. Phase two is to gather, in person, on our campuses, at such time in the future as we are safely able to do so, to celebrate your achievement. This is yet to be defined because it depends on the evolution of the pandemic, and the University will share more information as it develops.
  • Reimbursement for tuition, fees, room and board: The University will be refunding on a prorated basis money from residence hall contracts and dining hall meal plans. There are no plans to refund tuition, because instruction is continuing and we as a university are committed to helping students with their successful completion of the semester. President Barron and Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, explained that fees fund student support services such as CAPS and Student Legal Services, which are continuing to operate and serve students remotely.
  • Final exams, projects, capstones, thesis deadlines: Final exams will be administered as scheduled to avoid conflicts and follow policies with the weight of exams during the final week of classes. Faculty will be reaching out to students about how their exams may change, and are committed to finding ways to assess remotely the learning that is taking place. The same holds true for projects and capstones – faculty are working on creative and innovative ways to meet the learning objectives, not in the way they thought at the beginning of the semester, but achieving them along paths that may be slightly different from the original path. Again, faculty will be in touch with their students with details. For thesis deadlines, Provost Jones said we need to follow our general principals of rigor, but also afford flexibility where it is needed or required. We need to maintain levels of accomplishment, but we are not engaging with the process in the same way as before spring break, so we need more flexibility and are looking to implement that.
  • Summer session, NSO, LEAP and fall semester: Provost Jones emphasized that we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Right now we have a Plan A to proceed with summer session as normal, understanding that Plan B, which is a continuation of remote experiences is likely to be the reality. We will take what we are learning now, and apply that best thinking to what an alternative summer session might realistically look like. This applies also to New Student Orientation, which already has transitioned to a virtual process, along with LEAP and other summer programs.
  • Book rental return: Barnes and Noble will be emailing all students who have rental textbooks, with a prepaid mailing label attached to the email so students can return rental books at no cost to them. Unfortunately, since bookstores currently are closed statewide, there is no option to sell back purchased books.

For the latest information about Penn State's response to the coronavirus, go to and for the latest information from the College of Education, visit our information website

Again, thank you, and all my best,
Dean Lawless

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to faculty and staff

March 24, 2020

Members of the College of Education faculty and staff community,

There was a lot of information shared in this morning's town hall, led by President Barron, Provost Jones and other members of the University leadership team. Below are some of the pieces of guidance provided. I want to emphasize that the town hall covered much more than these topics, and what I have included here are summaries of what was discussed. I strongly encourage you to visit where a recording of this morning's town hall will be made available.

  • Continuation of pay: The University remains committed to paying all employees, whether they are faculty, staff, students, wage payroll or work study, through the end of April. President Barron said in mid-April the University will start to look at what the institution's capabilities are, but he is adamant that he does not want an abrupt financial transition for anyone.
  • Staff performance evaluations and salary increase: Human Resources has decided to move the timeline out a bit, and will communicate updates as a new timeline is developed. Along with that, Provost Jones announced that there will be no General Salary Increase (GSI) this year as we work to assess the financial impact COVID-19 has had on the University.
  • Sick time: Anyone in the College of Education who becomes ill and does not have paid sick time available should contact Jerry Henry or Megan Houser, who will work within Human Resources guidelines to make such time available.
  • Summer session: Provost Jones emphasized that we are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Right now we have a Plan A to proceed with summer session as normal, understanding that Plan B, which is a continuation of remote experiences is likely to be the reality. Take what we are learning now, and apply that best thinking to what an alternative summer session might realistically look like. This applies also to New Student Orientation, which already has transitioned to a virtual process, along with LEAP and other summer programs.
  • Pass/fail option for courses: Provost Jones said that the University's Administrative Council on Undergraduate Education (ACUE) is meeting today to consider a draft proposal originating from the Faculty Senate and shaped by insights from ACUE. They hope to have a recommendation and procedure to President Barron and Provost Jones by the end of the day today (March 24). Once it's finalized, the University will share the information.
  • Searches, hiring, and visiting scholars: The University is asking units not to fill new or open positions unless they are mission-critical. While we are not going to rescind any offers already made, we are pausing searches and not extending new offers except under compelling circumstances. Any exceptions for faculty would need the approval of Provost Jones, and any exceptions for staff would need the approval of David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business. This pause also applies to visiting scholars.
  • Strategic plan: While the timeline for the strategic planning process will be flexible, both Provost Jones and President Barron emphasized the need for strategic thinking, especially now. The University does plan to move forward with the strategic planning process, to ensure we emerge from the current situation moving in the right direction.

For the latest information about Penn State's response to the coronavirus, go to and for the latest information from the College of Education, visit our information website.

Once again, and I can not say it enough, thank you for working so hard to enable our current remote operations and planning for our future operations while we are in such turbulent times. 

All my best,

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to faculty and staff

March 21, 2020

Members of the College of Education faculty and staff community,

Faculty likely have seen by now the email communication from Provost Nick Jones, along with the research-related information in a special edition of Penn State Today regarding the reduction of research activities in Penn State Labs by March 24.

The information from Provost Jones addresses several questions and concerns he has heard from faculty regarding synchronous remote instruction, course grades, student evaluations (SRTEs), changes in timing of promotion and tenure decisions, annual faculty reviews and resources for faculty. I strongly encourage all faculty to read that email, and direct any questions to our leadership team Many of these items will require additional discussions within the college, particularly around tenure and promotion. While the blanket “stay” is provided, I think we can engage in a vision and set of expectations that addresses issues related to staying on their trajectories prior to this disruption. I look forward to engaging in these discussions with the college an open heart and mind.

Regarding the information in Penn State Today from the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research (OSVPR) and the College of Medicine Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, it is critical that we as a College community work to comply with these new limitations.

As stated in the latest communications from OSVPR, the underlying principle in these restrictions is to help ensure that our healthcare systems do not become overwhelmed. Together, we need to do everything we can to curtail campus activities to the barest minimum levels.

Please read the official communication from OSVPR carefully, especially the "next steps" section, which includes actions that allresearchers must take by March 23. Please reach out to Greg Kelly at if you are unsure whether aspects of your research constitute essential activities.

We echo the communication from OSVPR in encouraging you to continue the aspects of your research that can be done remotely. Take this time to redirect personnel toward research activities such as analyzing data, writing research papers, developing grant proposals, and training your graduate students and postdocs to do so as well. Research group meetings should continue remotely.

I understand that most of the information flowing right now deals with teaching and research. I want staff to know that their well-being also is of great importance. I received communications from central Human Resources last night that should calm much of the anxiety staff members may be feeling as well. The key message is that Penn State is not closed. However, everyone that can work from home should do so immediately and 100% of the time.

All staff members in the College of Education should be working remotely at this point. Please stay in touch with your direct supervisors regarding your workload, and with any concerns you have. If no work is available, let your supervisor know and then take the opportunity to engage in online professional development through our Learning Resources Network and LinkedIn Learning. Please be sure to report your professional development activities so you can get credit for them. Rest assured, everyone on our staff will remain in pay status.

In addition, Human Resources has launched a remote work website for employees, to make sure you have the necessary tools and resources needed to perform your work remotely. This site will provide employees and managers/supervisors with valuable information to help transition into remote working.

I want to give an additional reminder to you all to please check our College's FAQ, which is being updated constantly as information flows to us. That site and the University's coronavirus information website are two very reliable sources of information for you at this time. If you have questions that aren't answered by either site, please email them to and we will work to get the information.

Again, I want to thank you all for your resilience, flexibility and assistance during this unprecedented time. #WeAre an extraordinary group of educational professionals.


Message from Dean Kim Lawless to faculty and staff

March 20, 2020

Members of the College faculty and staff community,

By now you should have received an email from Provost Nick Jones with important information about changes to the University's operations in response to Gov. Tom Wolf's declaration to end physical operations at many businesses statewide.

The guidance from Provost Jones is that "it’s important that everyone who can work from home do so immediately and completely, until otherwise notified. Not everyone can, and each campus, college and unit differs, of course. It’s critical that you follow the guidance of supervisors and unit leaders."

In the College of Education, we are emphasizing that the determination of whether or not staff can work from home is whether duties as outlined in their JRWs are able to be performed remotely. If they are, then that individual may not work from a campus building. Anyone with hardship surrounding this directive should immediately contact his or her supervisor for direction. Supervisors will consult with College leadership for these cases with extenuating circumstances.

Faculty who have concerns about bandwidth for teaching their courses remotely may come to campus to use general classroom space to conduct their classes. Faculty have been given card-swipe access to all buildings on the University Park campus that have general classroom space, as a way to enable instruction to continue while simultaneously promoting social distancing.

Research and any other activities beyond course instruction should not be conducted on campus at this time. Again, anyone with concerns should contact their department heads.

Please remember, the College is holding a virtual Town Hall conversation for faculty and staff from 3 to 4 p.m. today. While we may not have answers to all of your questions, we want to hear what's on your mind so we can seek out answers from University leadership. Please connect with us via Zoom:

As Provost Jones emphasized in his message, "this is a rapidly evolving situation, and there may be new directives issued by the governor and/or other governmental and health agencies in the coming hours and days. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and flexibility."

Prior to our conversation, if you have any questions or concerns, please share them with the leadership team by emailing


Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

March 18, 2020

Members of the College of Education community,

President Barron just released an update on the status of our spring semester here at Penn State. Our University is operating out of an abundance of caution and after consultation with the Board of Trustees has decided to continue remote learning and working through the end of the spring semester. In addition, examinations will be administered remotely, and spring commencement ceremonies will be postponed while the University explores options for celebrating the achievements of our students. These decisions align with recommendations from the federal government that call for restricting of all gatherings of more than 10 people.

The full announcement is available on Penn State News.

As we navigate these new and changing waters, our College leadership team is looking for ways to celebrate all that We Are and all that we have done during this unprecedented situation.

While there will be no in-person commencement ceremony, the University is committed to finding the best way possible to recognize the achievements of our graduates. We as a College also are looking at ways to celebrate our graduating seniors virtually. There are no plans in place yet, but we will share more information as plans develop.

We also are looking at ways to celebrate those among our students, faculty and staff who won our College-wide awards. Again, we will share more about this as plans develop.

I also want to take this moment to reiterate my deep appreciation and admiration for all of you and the work you have been doing to keep our educational mission at the forefront. While the situation is far from normal, you all have worked hard to normalize the current operations. Faculty have worked with students to make sure they can succeed in this new learning environment. Staff have set up home offices and have continued to do the work that's so important for the overall success of our College. Students have been flexible and are working hard to adapt their learning to this new environment. You all have made great sacrifices and adjustments, and for that, I truly am grateful. #WeAre!

As always, please check the University's information website and our College's information site for updated information. If you have any questions or concerns, please share them at



Message from HR Strategic Partner Jerry Henry to managers/supervisors and staff

March 11, 2020

To all College of Education managers/supervisors and staff:

Good afternoon,

Since the University has decided to move to remote learning for all classes beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, April 3rd, it is important to remember the University is remaining open.

What does this mean for staff?

At this time, staff are expected to work unless they are ill or have approved scheduled time off.  However, we are expecting our managers/supervisors to be working with their staff to accommodate telecommuting for those staff members whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule.  We are encouraging all of our employees to consider what it might look like for their office to remain open for business while still being able to work remotely.  For instance, can office phones be transferred to your home phone or cell phone to allow you to conduct business remotely?  Can we post on our office doors contact information so that visitors will have the ability to reach someone to accomplish University business?

The attached documents - Temporary Telework Arrangements During COVID-19 OutbreakEmployee Expectations – Temporary Teleworking Arrangement; and Manager Expectations – Temporary Teleworking Arrangement - will provide guidance to you around temporary telecommuting arrangements and expectations. University HRG02 Alternate Work Arrangements ( and other related University guidelines are currently being adjusted to streamline the telecommuting process during this period. It is important that Megan Houser and I be kept in the loop with any telecommuting arrangement.  This notification is not a change from previous practice.

As Dr. Barron’s earlier correspondence mentioned, we expect our staff to stay home if they are feeling sick. For staff who are at high risk for complications from contracting the coronavirus and/or have specific health concerns, we should strongly be suggesting they not to come into the office.

Our goal will continue to be as flexible as we possibly can in accommodating all of our employees, especially around this temporary telecommuting period.  In return, we are trusting in you to work from home accordingly and to account for your time appropriately.

Again, please reach out to Megan or I with any concerns or questions you may have.


Gerald K. Henry, Jr.
Strategic Business Partner, Human Resources

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

March 11, 2020

Members of the College of Education community,

A short time ago, President Eric Barron announced Penn State's proactive measures in an effort to prevent illness and continue the important work of the University. Penn State has announced that all classes will be held online beginning on March 16 and continuing through Friday, April 3. Visit to read the message from President Barron, and to learn more.

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of viral illness is to minimize the circumstances in which individuals may interact and transmit disease, and that is what these measures are intended to do. We are following University guidance, and while the campus remains open, we echo President Barron's recommendation that supervisors work with their staff to accommodate telecommuting for staff members whose responsibilities can be accomplished outside of a University office and/or traditional work schedule. Employees should talk to their supervisor to discuss their telecommuting options.

We in the College have been working diligently to ensure the least amount of disruption to the learning process and the conducting of the business of the College, including research, during this challenging time. Information about how to ensure your ability to do your work remotely can be found in a checklist for remote working capability linked from our continuity of operations planning website

The University's coronavirus information website FAQs have been updated and are more easily navigable by topic. We are working diligently to do the same for our College-specific information website, and hope to have the updated organization of information posted soon.

This situation is evolving daily, and information may change as emerging events warrant. I strongly encourage you to check the University's coronavirus information website often for University-wide updates, and to check our College information website for logistical information updates specific to our College.

We will continue to monitor regularly and make adjustments as needed with the well-being of our university community top of mind. Questions can be addressed to

Thank you for all of your efforts to promote a safe and healthy campus community.


Kim Lawless
Dean, College of Education
Penn State University

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

March 9, 2020

Members of the College of Education community,

I wanted to update you on the preparations and contingency planning our College is making related to the coronavirus threat. I plan to communicate with you weekly through our College listservs with updates. However, it's best to check our College website and the University's coronavirus information website daily for more immediate information updates.

We have convened a College task force that is meeting regularly including over spring break. This task force, which includes associate deans, department heads and unit directors, has been working on the following:

  • Information gathering. We are consolidating College-specific operations planning information and sharing it on our website so it comes from one source.
  • Event planning. We are looking at all events scheduled in the College through the summer, to determine whether or not they can proceed as planned, if they can be held virtually, or if they would need to be canceled if the University alters operations.
  • Loaner laptops. The College has a limited number of loaner laptops available for temporary use by GAs or TAs who do not currently have access to a laptop that would enable them to teach or do their research remotely. Contact your department heads for details.
  • External impacts. We are aware that area school districts have imposed a self-quarantine for those traveling to Level 3 countries, meaning K-12 students may be required to stay home for a period of up to two weeks. This may impact some of our staff, faculty and students who have to keep their children home from school. I ask everyone to practice understanding and flexibility in these circumstances, and look for ways to enable people to continue to get their work done remotely.
  • Think virtually. If you teach a course, make sure it is fully operational on Canvas. Syllabi and assignments all should be uploaded, and the Zoom room enabled so that students can attend class even if they are not able to physically be present in a classroom.
  • Certification standards. We are working with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and others to determine contingency planning if Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences, Professional Development School, Special Education practica, Rehabilitation and Human Services internships and other placements that are mandatory for certification are interrupted. As we get information, we will share it onour website.
  • Conference reimbursements. We know that several major conferences have either been canceled or have switched to virtual attendance. We are awaiting guidance from the University regarding reimbursement for travel expenses incurred for these events, and will share information with you as soon as we receive it.
  • Get help. I want to remind you that the Employee Assistance Program is a free and voluntary resource for benefits-eligible employees and their families who may need counseling to help them in this stressful time.
  • Get the FAQs. The University has a FAQ set up at for information related to coronavirus. In addition, we are working on a College of Education contingency planning FAQ. If you have questions, please send them to edrelations@psu.eduand we will work to find answers. When we have the FAQ assembled, it will be added to our website.

Information from Penn State Human Resources

March 6, 2020

Penn State Human Resources (HR) has created a COVID-19 (coronavirus) webpage for our employees. The coronavirus webpage includes specific guidelines and frequently asked questions pertaining to the coronavirus and how it pertains to our faculty and staff. This page will be updated on a regular basis and we encourage you to bookmark the page to stay up to date on the expectations set forth for our employees.

As a reminder, concerning alternate working arrangements and scheduling matters, please direct questions to College HR. Should you have any further questions regarding the guidelines outlined on the HR COVID-19 webpage, please reach out to Absence Management via email to or by phone at 814-865-1782.

Please go to Workday and make sure your contact information is correct. Instructions on how you can view and update your current contact information can be found here.

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

March 4, 2020

Members of the College of Education community,

The best defense against something such as the coronavirus is education – learning the facts about the illness, how it's spread, how best to reduce your risk of contracting it, and what to do if you do exhibit symptoms.

The University is providing up-to-date information about all of those topics through its website at - which is being updated as new information becomes available. I encourage you to bookmark that website and check it often. Please also share that website link with friends and family as a way to keep them updated.

The University's coronavirus information website includes links to messages being delivered through Penn State News, including requirements for returning international travelers; articles from reputable sources in the media; and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the U.S. State Department, Pennsylvania Department of Health and other organizations, along with University resources including Global Programs, Student Care and Advocacy, University Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services and other resources.

The site also includes FAQs, community updates, University measures, health information, resources and traveler information.

I won't reiterate the information from those links here, because the information is changing quickly and so it's best to go directly to for the most up-to-date information. I want to reassure you, however, that we in the College of Education share everyone's concerns about the illness and its potential impact on our community. We are working, both in the College and throughout the University as a whole, to ensure the well-being of our students along with our continuity of operations in the event that the coronavirus does hit Pennsylvania.

We urge you also to take precautions against contracting the illness as you prepare to leave campus for spring break. If you are traveling, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's special spring break travel website for health tips, as well as a website where travelers can enter their destination to identify specific travel health notices.

Additional information on how to stay healthy can be found on Penn State News.

I will continue to keep you updated as information becomes available. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to .

Message from Dean Kim Lawless to the College of Education community

Feb. 28, 2020

Dear College Members, 

This morning, Provost Nicholas Jones provided detailed information about what the University is doing to monitor the evolving worldwide coronavirus outbreak and prepare for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Penn State also has set up a website for members of the university community who have questions about the outbreak as it relates to Penn State. Bookmark and check the site often, to stay up to date.

At this time, there are no known cases of coronavirus at Penn State and no reports of the virus in Pennsylvania. However, symptoms of coronavirus can be very similar to the flu, which is active across Pennsylvania at this time, so Penn State health officials recommend that anyone with flu-like symptoms contact their health care provider for an evaluation. We echo that recommendation – please make sure you make your health and well-being, and that of others, a priority.

Although the risk to the University community remains low at this point, we recognize that many of our students in the College of Education have friends and family in countries and regions that are being impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. We want you to know that we share your concerns for the well-being of your loved ones, and are here to support and assist you.

Please take the time to read the message Provost Jones sent out this morning via email. His message also can be found on Penn State News.

Stay well,
Kim Lawless
Dean, College of Education