Continuity of Operations planning information for the College of Education: Click here

Messages for graduate students from Dean Lawless

March 5, 2021

College of Education Student Update – Spring #9

‘Two weeks’ has turned into a year

As hard as it is for me to comprehend, we are nearing the one-year anniversary of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As I take stock and reflect on this past year, I am amazed by, and grateful for, all we have accomplished together. Over this past year, faculty, staff, students and our leadership team alike faced circumstances that were completely beyond our control and truly unimaginable a year ago. And somehow, we made everything work. It hasn’t been easy – in fact, it has been incredibly difficult to simultaneously manage jobs and families while working from makeshift home offices – but that didn’t stop you all from putting forth Herculean efforts to succeed.

Thank you, faculty, for providing our students with an excellent educational experience whether your class met in person, remotely or through some hybrid experience. Thank you, staff, for going above and beyond in support of our teaching mission and for continuing to manage the operations of the college under very challenging conditions. Thank you, students, for your determination to continue your education in spite of the difficult circumstances. Thank you to those of you who took on additional roles that were not in your job descriptions, because you saw a need and volunteered to fill it. You all exemplify the “We Are” spirit, and I am in awe of your “can-do” attitude. You truly inspire me.

Once we return to campus, what things would you like to keep from the past year?

My first email to the college community on the topic of the pandemic was Feb. 28, 2020. At that point in time, we were monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak, but it was not yet real to us, as there were no known cases of coronavirus at Penn State and no reports of the virus in Pennsylvania. Less than two weeks later during spring break, on March 11, the University announced a pivot to remote learning – effective the following Monday, March 16. We suddenly found ourselves packing up laptops, monitors and other office essentials to bring home. While I am not by nature a superstitious person, I must note that the last day that we all worked from our campus offices was Friday the 13th of March.

What we thought was going to be a multiple-week disruption dragged on through summer, fall and winter, and now here we are, facing the first anniversary of that pivot. The good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are rolling out and with a third one just approved, the pace of vaccinations should ramp up pretty quickly. While safety measures will remain necessary for a while longer, we are starting to see signs that point to our emergence from the pandemic.

As we begin to talk about what re-gathering may look like, I challenge you to not return to “the way things were,” but instead to look at all we have learned about ourselves and the work we do, and contemplate which parts of that we want to keep doing even as the danger of COVID-19 diminishes. I am curious to hear your thoughts on this topic. Once we return to campus, what things would you like to keep from the past year? Email your feedback to

COVID information

Random testing: With the conclusion of the required universal COVID-19 testing period, Penn State has resumed random testing of its on-campus students and employees as part of the University’s spring 2021 student testing strategy. The University will conduct random testing each day of 1% to 2% of its population of students and employees living, learning or working on campus as well as those who access campus. This includes all employees who are listed in the return-to- work database and students who are taking in-person classes or living within 20 miles of a campus. Learn more on Penn State News.

Walk-up testing: Students who are concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19 can visit a walk-up, rapid testing site at Hintz Family Alumni Center or Pegula Ice Arena between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It doesn't matter if you have been tested last month, last week or yesterday — if you are concerned that you may be at risk, I strongly encourage you to get tested again. Employees who are listed in the University’s Return to Work database also may utilize the walk-up testing. However, employees are strongly encouraged to order an employee Vault Health mail-in test kit, when possible.

Vaccine information: The University has put together a series of videos with information about COVID-19 vaccines. These videos are being featured on Wednesdays in Penn State Today, and you also can access them here. They also launched a vaccine information page on the Virus Information website. The page will continue to be updated to provide the latest information, and will serve as one critical avenue for information and guidance should Penn State be asked to play an active role in supporting the vaccination effort.

Rate your computer lab

Through a new survey, students can provide feedback that will improve the computer lab experience across the University. The survey, published today (March 1) by Teaching and Learning with Technology, is open through 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 14. Click here to take the survey, which can be completed in five minutes or less.

Short-story contest

Penn State University Libraries invites creative Penn State students, faculty and staff to submit their best circus-themed creative writing to the short stories “A Night at the Circus”-themed writing contest. The contest is open for submissions now through Friday, April 2.

Each of the five winning student authors will receive $100 and have their story or poem published on the Libraries' 10 Penn State Short Edition short-story dispensers. Several honorable mentions, chosen by the editorial board and community voters, also will be published on the dispensers. Although only Penn State students are eligible to win prizes, all qualifying submissions will be posted for voting and comments and will be considered for use in the dispensers.

For details, check Penn State News.

Quick Links


Dean Lawless

February 26, 2021

College of Education Student Update – Spring #8


I would be remiss if I did not start of this email with a major shout- out to everyone involved with THON for raising $10,638,078.62 to support the Four Diamonds Fund. You proved that not even a pandemic can diminish your dedication and drive to raise money #FTK. I am so proud to be a member of this community and work with these students every single day! And for those of you who donated to the cause in memory of Ashley Pauls and all she did for THON, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Shift to Surveillance Testing

Starting Monday 3/1, Penn State will resume the random surveillance testing of students and employees. Between 1-2% of the campus population will be selected and tested each day. This includes all students who are taking in-person classes or living within 20 miles of a campus. Students who are selected to participate in random testing are required to complete a COVID-19 test, with a few exceptions. At University Park, random testing will be conducted at the Mount Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium and at 101 North Atherton St., the former FedEx Office (Kinko’s) building.

In addition, there will be an increase in walk-up or on demand testing. Walk-up testing is available for students who are identified in the University’s contact tracing process or who believe they may have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. It doesn't matter if you have testing last month, last week or yesterday -- if you are concerned that you may be at risk, you are strongly encouraged to come get tested again. Students who test positive will be referred to isolation and the University’s contact tracing process will be initiated. At University Park, walk-up testing for students is available at the Hintz Alumni Center and will be available at the Pegula Ice Arena beginning on March 1 (Monday- Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Becoming anti-racist

I came across a really good article in the Chronicle of Higher Education the other day and I want to share it with you. It’s called The Antiracist College, and it can be found here. It’s a strong reminder that becoming an anti-racist college means we all must participate, that we all must grow. It involves top-to-bottom changes in how we do things, that words are not enough. If we do it right, the impacts will be not only for students of color and other marginalized groups, but also for all of us.

Along those same lines, President Barron shared a message on the University’s actions to address racism, bias and community safety on Penn State News. And of course, here in our college we have our commitment to equity, Leadership Resolution and Action Plan that we have been working on addressing over the past several months. I invite those who have not yet done so to read the resolution here, and provide your feedback to

Update on teaching modes

On Wednesday, the University announced on Penn State News that we are planning a phased return to a full on-campus learning environment for fall 2021. As positive as this news is, I want to echo the announcement in stressing that this is not a return to “pre- pandemic,” “normal” or “typical” operations. There likely will still be health guidance in place, to keep our students, employees, and local communities as safe and healthy as possible. The University will share additional information in the coming weeks and months about course registration and other aspects of its operations, including opportunities for engagement outside of the classroom. For more information, visit

Mask Up clarifications

Questions have arisen about whether or not the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is now requiring double-masking, or if Penn State is adding that requirement. According to the Coronavirus FAQ on Penn State News, the answer is no – neither the CDC nor Penn State is requiring the use of a double-mask. That being said, the CDC is suggesting double-masking as a way to improve how individuals can wear their masks. Individuals seeking means to improve their mask performance can refer to CDC guidance for important ways to make sure your mask works the best it can.

What is required is that students, employees and visitors to Penn State are required to practice physical distancing and wear face masks/coverings on campus. Masks with exhaust valves are not acceptable. This is because valves allow air and respiratory droplets to escape the mask, which results in less protection for others. Those who are wearing a mask with a valve do not meet Penn State’s mask wearing requirements. For more information, check Penn State News.

Quick Links


Dean Lawless

February 12, 2021

College of Education Student Update – Spring #6

Welcome back!

Although I know a number of you will be remaining remote, I am very excited to be welcoming students back into our buildings and classrooms starting on Monday. I have missed you! This campus just is not the same without your presence, and I look forward to seeing many of you again. Remember, mask up, social distance and sanitize your hands regularly to keep all of us safer.

COVID re-testing for ALL students

Remember, after you complete pre-arrival testing for COVID-19, testing expectations are not over. Between Feb. 15 and 26, all students are expected to be tested again as part of our community effort to contain the virus through Penn State’s Universal Testing initiative. This includes all students who are taking in-person classes or who are taking a fully remote or online course load while living in Centre County or within a 20- mile radius of a Penn State campus, including World Campus students. It also includes faculty and staff who are taking one or more classes either in person or online.

This second round of universal testing is in addition to the required initial testing of all students and does not fulfill the requirement that students must have a negative COVID-19 test result from a University provided test on file prior to, and within 72 hours of, their return to their campus community. It will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Feb. 15 to Feb. 26 in the White Building.

This re-testing is part of the University’s spring testing strategy and will allow us to assess how the virus is spreading on our campuses and isolate cases quickly. As a small thank you, students who sign up early and complete the retesting will receive a free T-shirt, while supplies last, that includes the words of the Penn State Alma Mater. For details about how this retesting will occur, check Penn State News.

CATA, campus shuttle schedules

CATA will begin operating on its CATABUS Spring 2021 Full-Service Schedule starting Monday, Feb. 15. There will be no changes to service from what had been operating throughout the fall months. Schedule and service information is available on the CATA website.

Penn State's Campus Shuttle via Beaver Avenue service also will resume on Monday, Feb. 15. This route serves 16 stops around campus every 20 minutes between 7:15 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For real- time locations and arrival predictions, download the TransLoc app or visit the Transloc website.

Expanded student engagement

Guided by health and safety, Penn State has developed a phased plan to restore in-person student experiences and steadily expand organized activities across its campuses as circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic allow. As the semester progresses, Penn State will incrementally increase the scope and nature of in-person activities based on demonstrated student compliance with health and safety requirements, successful virus mitigation, and federal and state guidelines for gatherings. Virtual and hybrid programming options will continue to be offered for students who are studying remotely or who may not feel comfortable attending activities. For details, check Penn State News.

Quick links


Dean Lawless

February 5, 2021

College of Education Student Update – Spring #5

Diversity in Education conference – TOMORROW!

The Penn State College of Education, Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee and PSU-Council for Exceptional Children are holding “Celebrating Our Differences,” The 2021 Diversity in Education Conference, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, via Zoom.

This is a FREE event designed to provide a forum for discussion and learning about working with the diverse populations of students throughout the educational spectrum. Register here.

Testing reminder

As I shared in an email earlier this week, all Penn State students must have a negative COVID-19 test result from a University-provided test on file prior to, and within 72 hours of, their return to their campus community. This requirement includes students who remained on campus over the break and also applies to those taking a fully remote/online course load if they live in Centre County or within 20 miles of a Penn State campus. Time is running out for you to meet this requirement prior to the start of in-person classes.

You can learn more in this Penn State News article and by visiting the testing and support page on the University’s official coronavirus information website. For help with planning, you can also use the COVID-19 Testing Requirements Checklist.

Thank you for your cooperation in protecting the health of our community. I look forward to your return and to completion of a safe and rewarding Spring semester.

Meeting with the Faculty Senate

Every three years, officers of the University Faculty Senate visit with members of the College of Education as part of a ‘listening tour’ to hear from our members and to gain a better perspective of issues and challenges facing our college. There are no presentations during this session, rather this is a time for conversation. Virtual visits have been scheduled with College of Education students, faculty and staff on Monday, Feb. 8. You should have received an email with an invitation and a zoom link to attend the appropriate session. I encourage you to attend if at all possible. If you did not receive the email invitation, please email

An interesting read

I read a very interesting article the other day, and would like to share it with you. The topic is “The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People.” We all know unreasonable people – those whose perspectives are opposite of our own, and whose minds are closed to seeing things our way. But wait … don’t we also fall into that category for other people?

The opinion piece goes on to explain the art of motivational interviewing, which only is effective if we truly are trying to understand people’s motivations and should not be used as a technique to manipulate people. My biggest take-away from what I read may be the last paragraph: “I no longer believe it’s my place to change anyone’s mind. All I can do is try to understand their thinking and ask if they’re open to some rethinking. The rest is up to them.”

I’m wondering if perhaps this approach also may help us in our everyday interactions with each other. I would love to hear your feedback.

ADA turns 30

Commemorate 30 years of the American Disability Act with two free virtual events from the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity.

  • On Tuesday, Feb. 9, join them at 10 a.m. for a virtual film viewing of Crip Camp. Watch how a group of teen campers in the 1970s joined the fight for disability civil rights. This event is open to all Penn State students, faculty and staff and is an official Wellness Days event. Watch the Crip Camp trailer here.
  • On Wednesday, March 3, join them at 3:30 p.m. for a talk with lifelong disability civil rights advocate Judy Huemann. Judy spearheaded the disability social justice movement that led to the passage of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, known as Section 504, and eventually the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She is also featured in Crip Camp.

Learn more and view these live events here.

Stall Stories

In case you missed it, the February edition of Stall Stories has been released. Inside you will find information about programming and resources to take advantage of this month, including Book Club, facilitated by the College of Education Student Council; bi-weekly Restore; DCEC's Community in Conversation; and more. Look for details in an email sent Feb. 1 with the subject line of “College of Education February Stall Stories.”


Dean Kim Lawless

January 29, 2021

College of Education Student Update – Spring #4

COVID-19 information

  • Vaccine information: In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health and county health departments are responsible for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which is being done in a phased approach with health care workers and those in long-term care facilities in the initial phase (Phase 1A). At this time, Penn State has not been named a distribution site for the vaccine and faculty, staff, and students should visit Pennsylvania’s vaccine website for information on when they may be eligible to receive a vaccine and where those vaccines may be available in their communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has an informational website about the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes a COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan. The plan provides information about the distribution of vaccines when available and describes the phases for vaccine administration.
  • Mandatory student testing: As the Feb. 15 return to in-person instruction approaches, all Penn State students are reminded that they must have a negative COVID-19 test result from a University-provided test on file prior to, and within 72 hours of, their return to their campus community. Students who do not fulfill the testing requirement will not be able to move in to on-campus housing and/or participate in on-campus activities until they complete the testing process. Students are urged to log in to the “Know Your Status” portal immediately to make sure they have completed the testing requirement, and to get started with ordering a test from Vault Health if they have not done so already. Vault Health self-test kits will be provided to students at no cost. For details, check Penn State News.

Online graduate education among best in nation

For the fifth straight year, Penn State is the most recognized university in U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of the best online degree programs in the country. The U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 Best Online Programs rankings, which were released Jan. 26, placed Penn State World Campus, the University’s online campus, in the top 10 of five graduate degree disciplines and the overall bachelor’s degree programs category. The College of Education’s online graduate education programs are tied for No. 7. The six top-10 rankings were the most of any institution. Penn State World Campus has had the most top-10 placements in U.S. News’ best online programs rankings since 2017. For details, check Penn State News.

Spring commencement

With the spring 2021 semester underway, Penn State is exploring options for potential in- person May commencement ceremonies for spring 2021 graduates. Given ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all decisions and plans will be made with the health and safety of students, their families, and campus communities as the priority and in accordance with state and federal guidelines for gatherings. Factors to consider include vaccination distribution rates; travel restrictions for out-of-town guests, if limited numbers of guests are possible; local and regional virus prevalence and conditions at campus locations; and local, state and federal guidelines. A decision on this is expected in March. For details, check Penn State News.

Take care of you

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be an unprecedented source of stress for students, staff and faculty alike. In addition to the physical health threat COVID-19 poses, the psychological impact of the safety protocols in place due to the pandemic has been profound, with stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms increasing globally.

If you need help, there are mental health resources available:

If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741).


The College of Education’s scholarship committee is now accepting scholarship applications for the 2021-22 academic year. The college has academic awards within all fields of study so please take advantage of this opportunity to be recognized for your achievements and, most especially, to alleviate your tuition bill, loans and other expenses.

You are eligible to apply for a scholarship if you are an undergraduate or graduate student who is currently enrolled in or has secured enrollment in the College of Education at University Park for the 2021-22 academic year. The application deadline is May 1. If you received a scholarship for a previous academic year, you are still required to submit an application this year in order to be considered for renewal.

Applying for a scholarship won’t take long and the results can be very rewarding. You’ll need to fill out two forms, the College of Education Application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. Once your FAFSA is complete, the information is routed to the college by Penn State’s Office of Student Aid. International students are not required to fill out a FAFSA – see our website for more information.

The Undergraduate Scholarship Application and Graduate Scholarship Application are available on our website. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact or check out the frequently asked questions page.

Penn State Today recaps

There has been some particularly useful information on Penn State Today this week. In case you missed it:

  • Move-in: Penn State has announced the timetable and requirements for students to move into on-campus residences ahead of the resumption of in-person classes on Feb. 15. Penn State Housing is emailing students directly with dates, procedures and requirements ahead of the February move-in. At University Park campus, new students will begin moving in on Feb. 9 and returning students will start to move in on Feb. 11. For details, check Penn State News.
  • Beware of scammers: Penn State University Police and Public Safety is urging the Penn State community to be wary of individuals who scam unsuspecting victims out of cash and more through emails and other communications. Multiple victims within the Penn State community have responded to such scams in recent weeks, including suspects claiming to be professors and asking students to cash fraudulent checks. Any Penn State student or employee who believes they may be a victim of a similar scam is encouraged to report the crime to their campus police station or online. Other reported phishing schemes have involved criminals posing as business associates and asking for changes to bank routing numbers, addresses and more. For details, check Penn State News.
  • Protect against Zoombombing: Penn State students, faculty and staff are reminded that numerous tools are available to help avoid “Zoom bombing,” a type of online harassment where an individual hijacks a video conference to wreak havoc, such as using the screen- sharing function to show offensive or malicious content, or spouting hateful or threatening language. Any incidents of Zoom bombing should be reported to University Police immediately. To help avoid Zoom bombing, individuals should not share meeting passwords or change default settings. A list of tips and settings to help prevent unwanted actions by participants is available, and includes actions to help prevent unwanted participants from joining your meeting. For details, check Penn State News.

Quick links


Dean Lawless

January 22, 2021

College of Education Student Update - Spring #3

Plan your summer courses

Penn State has published a historical class search tool that can aid in developing your academic plans for summer. The search tool includes undergraduate and graduate summer courses offered at every Penn State campus in 2019 and 2020 and provides a good indication of what will be offered this summer. Students can access the search tool on the Registar’s website. The University has not yet published the official course schedule for summer 2021, given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and unknowns related to course delivery mode. While inclusion of a course in the search tool does not guarantee that the course will be offered during summer 2021, the offerings at each campus this summer are likely to be similar to recent summers. For more information, check Penn State News.

Student Code of Conduct

After a thorough multi-month review by the Student Code of Conduct Task Force, a revised Student Code of Conduct has been implemented for the Spring 2021 semester. The changes, which were based on task force recommendations shared with the University community during a Dec. 9 virtual town hall, include modifying the code purpose and introduction by incorporating language that promotes equity and inclusion; adding “acts of bias” language to emphasize that discriminatory bias and behavior are not in alignment with University values and may result in increased sanctions when they accompany conduct violations; and adding “discriminatory harassment” to the code as its own categorical conduct violation. These and the other changes are detailed on Penn State News.

Important COVID-19 updates

  • Revamped dashboard: Penn State has released a redesigned version of its COVID-19 dashboard for the spring 2021 semester that provides additional information to help students, faculty, staff and community members better understand COVID-19 testing results, virus prevalence, and quarantine and isolation capacity. The dashboard will be updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the spring semester. For details, check Penn State News.
  • Virus information website: The University’s official virus information website has been redesigned with a focus on pointing readers to the most critical and sough-after resources. For details on the changes, check Penn State News.
  • Testing plans: Penn State has developed a comprehensive spring 2021 COVID-19 testing strategy for all campuses that includes both required and voluntary testing during the remote learning period and the in-person portion of the spring semester. The University’s spring 2021 testing strategy is designed to be flexible to allow the University to pivot and adjust the plan as circumstances change. The plan is divided into eight categories. For details, check Penn State News. Readers can also find more information about testing on the University’s official coronavirus information website.
  • Student testing: All students are required to participate in COVID-19 testing and have a negative result on file prior to returning to their campus community. This includes graduate students and students who have remained on campus or lived near campus during the winter break. For details, check Penn State News.
  • Universal mandatory re-testing: During the first two weeks of in-person learning (Feb. 15 to Feb. 26), the University will conduct universal COVID-19 testing of all students who are taking in-person classes or who are taking a fully remote or online course load while living in Centre County or within a 20-mile radius of a Penn State campus. Learn more about mandatory universal re-testing.
  • Vaccination status does not exempt students or employees from participating in the testing for COVID-19. In addition, even if you have been vaccinated, masks and distancing are still required on campus and in any University facility.
  • Vaccine distribution: In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health and county health departments are responsible for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which is being done in a phased approach with health care workers and those in long-term care facilities in the initial phase (Phase 1A). At this time, Penn State has not been named a distribution site for the vaccine and faculty, staff, and students should visit Pennsylvania’s vaccine website for information on when they may be eligible to receive a vaccine and where those vaccines may be available in their communities.

Applications open for Spark Program

Applications are now open for the Spark Program, which helps Penn State undergraduate students learn about high-impact educational experiences, campus resources and fellowship opportunities while also providing tools to develop competitive fellowship applications. The spring semester program is open to first-year students at all Penn State campuses. The link to the application/interest statement form is available here. Sophomores can apply to Spark during the fall semester. For more information, check Penn State News.

Be a LEAP mentor

The Office for Summer Session is now accepting applications for summer 2021 LEAP mentor positions. LEAP mentors are an integral piece of the Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP), a summer transition program for incoming first-year students at the University Park campus. The position is suitable for students looking to gain leadership experience and those looking to help incoming Penn State students acclimate to the University. To apply to be a LEAP mentor, students must attend an information session. Sessions will be held virtually at noon Jan. 27, and at 8 p.m. Feb. 11, via Zoom at For more information, check Penn State News.

First-year students eligible for parking

With reduced parking demand on campus this academic year due to remote learning and remote working, first-year students interested in bringing a vehicle to campus are encouraged to apply for an exception to the University's first-year student parking restriction. To be considered, a student's parent or guardian must submit a notarized letter by email containing specific information to For details, check Penn State News.

Mark your calendar

  • Dr. Cameron C. Beatty, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University, on “Racial Battle Fatigue: Developing Coping Strategies and Supporting Others,” 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Jan. 27. Co-hosts are the Department of Education Policy Studies, the Hoy Endowment and the Center for the Study of Higher Education. To attend via Zoom, click here.
  • Dr. Charles Payne, the Henry Rutgers Distinguished Professor of African American Studies at Rutgers University and director of the Joseph Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Research, on “‘We Who Believe in Freedom:’ The legacy of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Legacy of Donald J. Trump,” 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28. The talk is co-sponsored by the Consortium for Social Movements and Education Research and Practice and the College of Education Diversity & Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC). To register for the lecture, click here.

For information about additional events, exhibits and performances, check Penn State News.

Quick links

College-specific sites:

University-wide sites:


Dean Kim Lawless

January 15, 2021

College of Education Student Spring Update #2

Annual MLK celebration

The Forum on Black Affairs (FOBA) Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Celebration will be held virtually from 5 to 6:30 p.m. TODAY, Jan. 15.

Traditionally, FOBA brings together thousands of Penn State community members to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, due to the global pandemic, they have partnered with colleagues from Penn State World Campus Student Affairs to virtually commemorate Dr. King’s legacy.

This year’s theme is “Project 1972: A Conversation with Our Elders,” a virtual panel discussion including Penn State staff and faculty who worked at the University in the height of the Civil Rights movement and members of the University’s class of 1972, who were freshmen in 1968 — the year that Dr. King was assassinated. The event also will include performances from Jeffrey Lampkin and the Francis Marion University YGB Choir, and the announcement of the Fannie Lou Hamer – W.E.B. DuBois Service Scholarship award recipient.

To join the virtual celebration, click here. For more information, check Penn State News.

Pre-semester checklist

Student Affairs has put together a pre-semester testing checklist for students and parents. As a reminder, all students are required to participate in COVID-19 testing and have a test result on file with the University within 72 hours before they are back on campus, move into on-campus housing, start on-campus activities, attend classes, or participate in any approved internships or clinical experiences. This includes graduate students and students who have remained on campus or lived near campus during the winter break.

Students who have received a positive COVID test result within the 90-day window before returning and who have submitted approved documentation of that test result are not required to participate in this testing.

Download the Pre-semester Testing Schedule and Checklist to determine your testing requirements and timeline.

COVID-19 vaccine

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has an informational website about the COVID-19 vaccine, which includes a COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan. The plan provides information about the distribution of vaccines when available and describes the phases for vaccine administration.

Stand Up Award nominations

The Rock Ethics Institute is looking for nominations for its annual Stand Up Award. The awards recognize Penn State undergraduate students who have demonstrated courage, fortitude and ethical leadership by taking a stand for a person, cause or belief. The winners each will receive $1,000 and be honored during a virtual ceremony on April 22.

Anyone may nominate any Penn State undergraduate student from any campus, college or major for the Stand Up Award. The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2021 Stand Up Awards is Friday, Feb. 5.

The College of Education has had four students honored with Stand Up Awards since 2014:

If you know a student who would be a strong candidate for a Stand Up Award, I encourage you to submit a nomination. Additional information about the Stand Up Awards can be found at and the nomination form can be found here. For more information about this year’s awards, contact Ben Jones, assistant director of the Rock Ethics Institute, at

Spring Virtual Student Involvement Fair

The Office of Student Activities will host a three-day Spring Virtual Student Involvement Fair from Jan. 26 to 28. The event will run daily from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. Students hoping to become more involved on campus will have the opportunity to browse through Zoom rooms of participating organizations and meet current members who will be available to answer questions.

The three-day event will be broken down into categories. For a full list of organizations that will be available, check Penn State News.

Student trustee

Full-time undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in becoming a member of Penn State’s Board of Trustees are asked to submit an application by Feb. 19. Students who are interested in serving as an at-large member of the Student Trustee Selection Committee are asked to submit an application by Feb. 5. Additional information and links to applications can be found here.

Past student trustees include our own Allie Goldstein, assistant professor of education (higher education), who was appointed in 2014 when she was a graduate student in the Higher Education Program.

Big Ten course sharing

Through the Big Ten course sharing initiative, which launched in fall 2020 and will continue in spring 2021, Penn State students can take one online course each semester at another participating Big Ten institution at no additional cost. The Big Ten Academic Alliance Online Course Sharing Program is designed to enhance the educational opportunities for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. For details, check Penn State News.

Presidential inauguration

As our nation braces for uncertainty and prepares for the potential of more violence during next week’s presidential inauguration, I want to remind you that now is the time we need to come together as a community to support each other.

Please keep in mind that many individuals in our community may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the events unfolding in Washington, D.C.

I urge you to please care for yourself and reach out to family, friends and campus resources when you need them. If at any point in the coming days and weeks you experience feelings of stress and anxiety, I highly encourage you to access free counseling and support services. Students may access services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic via Zoom. To schedule a screening, email the Herr Clinic at

Building access

Many changes have been made to building access during the remote learning period of Jan. 19 through Feb. 14. While this information is subject to change, here is the schedule as it stands currently:

  • Study space: study space will be available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Boucke, Hammond, Osmond, Thomas and Willard buildings. With some exceptions, all other University Park buildings will be locked.
  • Residences: Residence halls and apartments will be card access only for students currently in residence and for appropriate staff. Any students testing positive with COVID-19, having COVID-like symptoms, or who have been identified through contact tracing as having been in contact with someone who tested positive, will be housed in Harris Hall in Eastview Terrace.
  • Commons: Redifer, Waring, Warnock and Findlay/Johnston commons buildings will be unlocked from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and will be locked on the weekends.
  • Other buildings:
    • HUB-Robeson Center: open 24/7.
    • Pasquerilla Spiritual Center: open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and for a few hours Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.
    • Student Health Center: open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Quick links

College-specific sites:

University-wide sites:


Dean Kim Lawless

January 8, 2021

College of Education Student Spring Update #1

Even in light of the events of this week, I want to extend my sincere wishes for a Happy New Year to you. We cannot ignore the violent anarchy we witnessed on Wednesday. At the same time, we must embrace hope. Hope that we will find a way to rise above the hate and vitriol that has gripped our nation, put aside our differences and act against bias, discrimination, racism, the mindset that fueled Wednesday’s lawlessness and the privilege that emboldens people toward this type of action.

While we may feel powerless as individuals to change the nation, we can make a difference in our own little corners of the world. And if enough of us do that, we can and will make a difference on a national scale.

The events of this week were fed by the same mindsets that have perpetuated bias, discrimination and racism in this country for far too long. To heal, we must address this head-on. This past summer, the College of Education leadership team took the first tangible steps on this path, by unanimously passing a resolution to identify and challenge systemic prejudice wherever it exists; do the work necessary for policy changes that dismantle structural systems of oppression that perpetuate racial inequities in our society and institutions; strive to be better listeners and supporters of those who are the victims of racism; not rest until every American feels safe, free and accepted in our country; and to continuously abide by the goal of providing equitable educational opportunities for all people.

I invite you to read the full resolution here.

Intent to graduate

If you are planning to graduate this May, you can now apply for graduation for Spring 2021 semester in LionPATH. The deadline to complete this is Monday, Jan. 25. From the Student Home Base, select the Degree Planning and Progress button. Select Apply for Graduation on the left side of the page. There should be a link to apply next to your current program/major. If you are unable to apply, please contact Samantha Roan at or 814-863-1497.

Student parking registration

Student parking registration for the spring 2021 semester will be available exclusively online at this site on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 13, at noon (Off-campus long-term storage - P43)
  • Thursday, Jan. 14, at noon (Resident student permits - B11, L22, L42, L81, L82, YWH, L83)
  • Friday, Jan. 15, at noon (Off-campus student Commuter - SCR)

For details, check the Transportation Services website.

Penn State Today

This morning’s edition of Penn State Today included a lot of helpful and timely information. In case you missed it:

Past messages

All of the weekly emails I’ve sent to students, staff and faculty since Feb. 28, 2020, can be found here. If you missed information from a previous email, or need to double-check something, please use this resource.


Dean Kim Lawless

January 4, 2021

Members of the College of Education student community, 

Happy New Year! I hope you are enjoying your time off this break, and you have had a chance to rest and re-charge in a safe environment. 

As you prepare to return to campus for spring semester, it’s important that you follow the pre-arrival testing protocols outlined by the University. If you have not yet started this process, please do so immediately, as step one should be completed three weeks prior to your anticipated return. 

In case you missed the article in Penn State News, or other emails that may have been sent by the University, here is the basic information you need to know: 

The following steps must be taken by all students who are returning to their campus communities: 

  • Students are required to participate in COVID-19 testing and have a negative COVID test result on file prior to their return to their campus community. Self-test kits will be provided to students at no cost. 
  • The University plans to have a test result on file for every student within 72 hours of their intended return. 
  • Students who have a positive test on file with the University from within the last 90 days do not need to complete this testing.  
  • Students should determine their individual arrival date and count backwards to complete each step on the timeline. 

If you are planning to return to an off-campus living arrangement while classes are being held remotely, you are expected to complete the above steps before you arrive. If you have already returned to State College, but have not completed the pre-arrival testing, please do so as quickly as possible. 

To avoid delays due to the holiday season and shipping considerations, please use the timeline instructions found here to count backwards and determine the dates when you need to complete each step. As I stated above, the first step should be completed three weeks before you plan to arrive, so please take care of this immediately if you have not already done so. 

Students can contact the COVID-19 Response Center at 814-865-2121 with specific questions about testing or the portal.


Dean Lawless

December 18, 2020

Final Student Weekly Update of 2020!

As this year winds down, I want to encourage you to remember the positives of this year, because in the midst of the upheaval of 2020 and all it threw at us, there was a lot of good. Each one of us learned how to do our work differently and learned new skills in the process. We learned how to stay connected with each other and with our friends and family even as we remained socially distanced. We committed to combatting and actively dismantling persistent systemic racism. We refocused our lives on people and the important role they play in our lives.

While I know we all are anxious for the day when it is safe to gather and attend classes in person without masks or social distancing, I sincerely hope that when that day comes, we don't forget about the lessons we have learned about what's truly important – relationships with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, classmates and others, and their well-being.

Change of plans for spring

By now you should have received an email from President Barron about the University’s decision to begin the spring semester remotely on Jan. 19 and to delay the start of in- person classes until Feb. 15. As explained on Penn State News:

Penn State has decided to delay the start of in-person classes and transition to a fully remote learning environment for the beginning of the spring 2021 semester at all campus locations. This decision was made following extensive analysis and scenario planning given worsening virus conditions nationally and across the state indicating predictions of rising hospitalization rates in the coming weeks.

To provide an uninterrupted educational experience for students, remote classes will begin on Jan. 19 and will continue through Feb. 12. At this time, in-person classes are expected to resume across all campus locations on Feb. 15, though this date could change based on health and safety factors and guidance from the state. As currently scheduled, the 15-week semester will end on April 30, with finals week following from May 3-7.

If you have not read President Barron’s email message, I strongly encourage you to do so, and also to read the story on Penn State News, which includes details and support for remote learning, as well as COVID-19 testing requirements for any student returning to University Park before Feb. 15.

In the coming weeks, planning for the return to campus will continue to move forward and additional details about Penn State's plans for the spring will be forthcoming. Updates will be shared on Penn State News and Penn State’s Virus Information website.

COVID-19 quarantine update

The University has updated its quarantine guidelines for community members who are exposed to COVID-19 and for those returning from travel outside of Pennsylvania. The update follows the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. For details, check Penn State News.


Fall commencement will be held via livestream at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 19. To make sure you can view the ceremony, click here to test your browser in advance.

As with the previous virtual ceremonies, there will be a link from the main site to a special page for the College of Education, where you can see our commencement speaker, Efraín Marimón, assistant professor of education; meet our student marshal, Jennifer Stoudt; see a slideshow of our graduating seniors; and enjoy an Alma Mater tribute to our graduates from our faculty and staff.

Spring wellness days update

The University-wide team charged with developing programs for spring 2021 wellness days has announced more details about wellness day programs, including program themes for each of three wellness days and different formats for participating in programs.

While components of social and emotional wellness will be at the core of all programming, each wellness day will focus on a theme:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9 — Financial and occupational dimensions of wellness
  • Thursday, March 11 — Intellectual and spiritual wellness
  • Wednesday, April 7 — Physical and environmental wellness

For details, check Penn State News.

Nittany AI Challenge

The Nittany AI Alliance is hosting a webinar to inspire new ideas and new competitors for the 2021 Nittany AI Challenge. The virtual event will feature mentors, sponsors and winning student teams from past challenges who will share tips on how to successfully navigate the competition and discuss ways artificial intelligence can be used to contribute to the greater good. The webinar, “You Can Do It: How to Compete in the Nittany AI Challenge,” will be held from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

Register here to receive the link to join the virtual event. For more details, check Penn State News.

Send a message to the Moon

The Readiness Institute (RI) at Penn State, a Penn State Outreach service, is embarking on a mission to help foster hope among people around the world. Students, educators and members of the global community are invited to share messages of hope — for free — that will be included aboard a mission to the Moon. The Hope Moonshot, presented by the RI at Penn State and Global Moonshots in Education, is scheduled for launch in the second half of 2021. Those who want to aspire to new heights for 2021 are being asked to submit their hopes before Jan. 22. For details, check Penn State News.

Happy New Year!

Although you may receive additional important information from Penn State regarding the remote start for spring semester, this is my last planned weekly email until early January. My wish for you between now and then is for good health, peace, relaxation, and lots of time to rest and re-charge. I'll see you (at least virtually) in 2021.


Dean Lawless

December 11, 2020

College Weekly Student Update #15

Stay safe

COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high. It’s more important than ever to wear a mask, keep your distance, and sanitize no matter where you are. If you are in Pennsylvania, we encouraged you to download and use the COVID Alert PA app.

Yesterday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced additional, temporary mitigation measures – statewide – that will go into effect Saturday, Dec. 12, and remain in place until 8 a.m. on Jan. 4. These include:

  • Unnecessary travel should be limited.
  • All in-person indoor dining at businesses in the retail food services industry, including, but not limited to, bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, distilleries, social clubs, and private catered events is prohibited.
  • Indoor gatherings and events of more than 10 persons are prohibited.
  • Outdoor gatherings and events of more than 50 persons are prohibited.

Click here to learn more about the mitigation measures. Please be safe this holiday season!

Walk-up testing

The University has extended its hours for walk-up coronavirus testing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Jan. 18, to allow more individuals to be tested and prevent people from waiting outdoors as temperatures cool.

Walk-up testing is available at the Hintz Family Alumni Center for all students — living either on or off campus. For details, check Penn State News.

De-Stress Fest

Although students are studying for exams virtually this semester, the stress of finals is much the same as ever. Fortunately, Penn State University Libraries has curated a few activities to help students slow down and relax, take a break from studying and even learn a new hobby — all while enjoying a bit of carefree downtime in between preparing for finals.

This fall, the Libraries will again offer virtual Destress Fest options to help students relax and unwind while completing end-of-term reports and studying for final exams. Through Friday, Dec. 18, visit Online De-Stress Fest for a curated list of links, tutorials and homegrown videos, including some that showcase the talents of University Libraries’ faculty and staff.

For details, check Penn State News.

Be a leader

Penn State is looking for the next group of undergraduates that will lead first-year students through New Student Orientation in summer 2021.

Instructions for applying can be found here, and students have until Dec. 18 to apply.

Known as the "OTeam," New Student Orientation Leaders are a critical part of the success of first-year students entering Penn State. Aspiring OTeamers must complete training through a three-credit course during the spring semester. They must also be current full-time Penn State undergraduates who plan to be enrolled in fall 2021, will have earned at least 24 total credits by the end of the spring 2021 semester, and have maintained at least a 2.5 GPA. Because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, this position may be in-person, remote or a combination of the two. The position is paid.

For details, check Penn State News.

Mark your calendar

  • Academic calendar. Spring semester will begin on Jan. 18 and run through April 30. Final exams will take place in person or remotely, depending on the mode of the course, May 3-7. University leaders also are planning for a variety of scenarios if circumstances or guidance from the government and public health authorities change and a reassessment of the plan is needed before the Jan. 18 start date.
  • Wellness days. In lieu of a spring break, the University has scheduled wellness days for Tuesday, Feb. 9; Thursday, March 11; and Wednesday, April 7. These are days during which there should be a pause in teaching and learning, to focus on wellness, self-care and the health of our community. They are to be non- instructional days during which no classes will be held, although University offices will remain open. For details, check Penn State News.

Things to do

Although the semester has come to an end, there still are things to do between now and Dec. 20, including virtual performances and events, and in-person exhibits. For a list of options, check Penn State News.

Good luck with finals, and I'm looking forward to seeing you back on campus for the spring semester!


Dean Lawless

December 5, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update #14

Finish strong

As we head into the final week of the fall semester, I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone in our college for getting us here. You all have been incredibly flexible, and words cannot adequately express how deeply appreciative I am of everything our college leadership, faculty, staff and students have done – together – to get us through.

I encourage you to finish strong as we head into finals week, and to strive for the best grade possible in all classes to best support your future learning and success.

While there is the option for alternative grading for undergraduates again this semester, please exercise prudence and consult your adviser before making any decisions as the use of alternative grades may impact future academic or career prospects. Alternative grades will be available for selection in LionPath starting Dec. 23, and must be selected by the deadline of midnight on Jan. 12, 2021.

For details on alternative grading, check Penn State News.

Take care of you

While the semester is winding down and we all soon will be able to enjoy a well- deserved winter break, COVID-19 numbers are spiking nationwide and stress is building up because of the prolonged disruptions caused by the pandemic.

While we are remote, please continue to be mindful of the multitude of things folks are trying to balance, including classes, work, family and health, and be kind to each other.

Be kind to yourselves, as well. If things are becoming overwhelming, reach out. If you find you need help, you may access services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic via Zoom. To schedule a screening, email the Herr Clinic at

Dean's equity Forum

The second presentation in the Dean's Equity Forum series will feature Marcus Jenkins, assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Arizona, starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Drawing from critical theories of race and social justice, this talk will explore how approaches to leadership are connected to community engagement for school reform. In particular, Dr. Jenkins will examine the praxis of Black leaders and how their practices not only foster community but work to disrupt structural antiblackness.

The forum starts with Dr. Jenkins' talk at 4 p.m. and will conclude with a discussion of the implications and future directions of this line of inquiry for training and supporting K-12 school leaders from 5:15 to 6 p.m.

For Zoom connection information, email


Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020-2021 Faculty, Staff, and Student awards program. Our college is composed of exceptional colleagues who influence our lives and the lives of others each and every day. We look forward to honoring their commitment to the college and to the Penn State community.

Now it is easier than ever to submit a nomination. Click here for an updated nomination form, criteria for each award, and streamlined supporting materials.

The nomination deadline is Jan. 31. For more information, contact Janel Fitzgerald ( or call 867-3371.

Quick updates

Again, I thank you for all you have done to make this a strong semester for our college. I am deeply grateful.


Dean Lawless

November 18, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update #13

Because we're heading into Thanksgiving break, I wanted to send my weekly update early this week. First and foremost, I want to extend a very deep and heartfelt appreciation to you. We know this semester wasn’t what you had envisioned in your academic journey, but we made it work. YOU made it work! We learned a lot about one another, worked hard, and it shows. You, in my unbiased opinion 😉, are the most dedicated, caring and persistent students at Penn State.

I am blessed to work with you and for you every single day – THANK YOU!

Transition resources

There are a variety of academic, technology, housing and other resources available to help students prepare for the shift to remote learning, as well as virtual wellness, exercise and mental health resources that will be available for all students during the remote learning period and beyond.

I know from messages I've received from some of my students that at least some of you are leaving campus today. If you're still here, please be sure to complete COVID-19 departure testing to help alleviate stress, protect family members, and provide sufficient time to quarantine or isolate, if needed, prior to returning home for Thanksgiving.

For many of you, levels of stress and anxiety are elevated amid ongoing changes at home, school and work. For strategies to prioritize your well-being during this time, click here.

To help with your transition to remote learning, the University has a "pivot plan" worksheet you can fill out to make sure you have what you need. You can find it here.

Alternative Grading

As you move through the next few weeks in remote mode, I want to remind undergraduates of the alternative grading option passed through the faculty senate for this semester. Information on the alternative grading option has now been posted to the KeepLearning.PSU website.

This option is for undergraduate students who encountered significant challenges that impeded their academic goals due to circumstance beyond their control. I urge you to use this option sparingly. While the use of some form of pass/fail grading was common across higher education in spring 2020, it is much less common in fall.

Important dates to be aware of:

  • December 23, 2020: A link to the online tool used to select alternative grades for each course will be available to students. This will be the same tool that was used for spring 2020.
  • January 12, 2021: All selections must be finalized by midnight.

Please review the policy in its entirety here.

Alumni Magazine online

The fall edition of the College of Education Alumni Magazine has been posted on, and there are a lot of great stories to share. You can read how our first-year students are coping, and how some of our faculty and staff have adjusted to the pandemic-altered environment. There also are stories about our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, research, and ways our college is having an impact on the world around us.

As was the case in the spring, we did not publish a print version of the magazine. Instead, it's available as a digital magazine via, where you can turn the digital pages online or download a PDF to print and read. Stories also are posted on Penn State News in the College of Education section.

For the full list of stories included in this issue, click here.

Happy Thanksgiving

While the pandemic has caused many of us to deviate from our traditional Thanksgiving plans, I wish for you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. I encourage you to unplug, rest and take some time for yourself to recharge before classes resume on Nov. 30 in the remote environment.

Be well,

Dean Lawless

November 13, 2020

College of Education Weekly Update #12

Know before you go

This semester, through our ongoing vigilance to fight against the spread of COVID-19, we have enjoyed the opportunity to engage in a hybrid model of in- person and remote learning and research together. Now, as scheduled in-person instruction comes to an end on Nov. 20, I am reminding you to take action to protect your families before returning home. In preparation for the departure from campus, Penn State is offering all students COVID-19 testing, at no cost to students. If you have not already done so, please schedule your appointment as soon as possible.

Voluntary on-campus departure testing for University Park will be conducted in person through Nov. 19 at predetermined testing sites. Critical information has been shared, and resources have been provided at for you to schedule an appointment for your test.

Those of you who are not leaving or who live near our campus community permanently also may sign up for testing.

Those of you who are not leaving or who live near our campus community permanently also may sign up for testing.

Plan to test at least three days before your scheduled departure, as the turnaround time for results will be approximately 48 hours from the time your test is received at the lab.

Book your appointment by using the Return Home Event on the Penn State Go App or visiting

As you heard in an email from President Barron, during the period of several days before and after being tested, it is important to take extra precautions. As much as possible, limit your interactions with others to attending classes in person and getting food or other essentials until you travel. Now is the time to be even more vigilant and continue to follow all masking and social distancing requirements, minimize interactions with others outside of roommates or “pods,” avoid large gatherings, and self-quarantine leading up to campus departure.

Transition to remote learning

As you prepare to head home for Thanksgiving break, please be sure pack everything you need to continue to be successful in your classes after Thanksgiving. If you live in the residence halls, or if you are not returning to your off-campus residence after Thanksgiving, you need to make sure you take everything you need home with you for break, including technology, books and notes. There will be no access to residence hall rooms until January.

Alternative grading details

Last week I told you that alternative grading was going to be implemented for undergraduate students again this semester and that details would be released soon. We now have most of those details.

For the fall 2020 semester, undergraduate students will be able to choose to keep the grade earned in each of their courses, or to have one or more grades replaced with one of three alternative grades that have no impact on GPA calculation — SAT (Satisfactory); V (Pass); or Z (No Grade).

I strongly encourage you to strive for the best grade possible in all classes, and to think about the use of alternative grading sparingly. Students considering any alternative grades should meet with their academic adviser to consider the potential implications on future academic and professional pursuits – including future applications to graduate school, applications to professional licensing organizations, and employment opportunities.

Not all classes or students are eligible for alternative grading. Students in an integrated graduate-undergraduate (IUG) program cannot request alternative grades for courses applied to their graduate program. Graduate students are also not able to select alternative grades. The Graduate School has provided a process for exceptions in cases where students have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Details will be available on the Graduate School’s website soon.

More information about alterative grading for this fall is included on Penn State News; the Undergraduate Education Academic Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual; the Keep Learning website and FAQ; and the University Faculty Senate website.

'How to Be an Antiracist'

Ibram X. Kendi, one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices, will discuss his book “How to Be an Antiracist” from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18. The free, live-streamed event will feature a moderated conversation with Kendi, followed by Q&A. A Penn State login will be required to view the live stream at online.

Our college is one of many sponsors of this event, and after the formal even ends, we will be holding a Community Reflections session at 7:30 p.m. The focus of the discussion, hosted by our Office of Education and Social Equity, is to apply Kendi’s talk to the context of our work and interactions in the College of Education. To register, please click here.

In case you missed it

If you missed the Dean's Equity Forum presentation by Dr. Mildred Boveda yesterday, or if you want to watch it again, you can access the recording here.

Dr. Boveda's talk on "Developing Intersectional Competence: Are General and Special Education Preservice Teachers Prepared to Respond to Multiple Differences?" was the first in the series for this academic year. The second presentation in the series will feature Marcus Jenkins, assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Arizona, starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8. For details, check Penn State News.

Free T-shirts

Thank you to the Education Student Council for helping us with our Cookies and Cocoa event on Wednesday. Those of you who stopped by also got a free College of Education T-shirt. If you missed it, don't worry. We have more T-shirts to give away at events in the spring!

Pandemic fatigue …

… it's real. Visit Penn State News for information and tips for overcoming it. Reach out to family, friends and campus resources when you need them. Students may access services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic via Zoom. To schedule a screening, email the Herr Clinic at

Have a productive week and be safe as you travel home for Thanksgiving.


Dean Kimberly Lawless

November 6, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update #11

Election aftermath

The fact that the results of this presidential election remain unknown is causing a great deal of anxiety among members of our college community. I would like to remind you again that now is the time we need to come together as a community to support each other.

Please care for yourself and reach out to family, friends and campus resources when you need them. If at any point in the coming days and weeks you experience feelings of stress and anxiety, students may access services through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic via Zoom. To schedule a screening, email the Herr Clinic at

Alternative grading

While this will be a new concept for those of you who are first-year students, the rest of you will remember the alternative grading option (SAT,V,Z) from the spring 2020 semester. Last week, at the urging of the University Park Undergraduate Assembly (UPUA), Penn State’s Faculty Senate voted to re-instate alternative grading for fall 2020. Many of you may already have heard about this.

While this was approved, the University must now figure out how to implement this for the current semester in a way that is fair and accessible to students. At this time, we have no additional details as to how the alternative grading selection will work, or the timeline for selecting alternative grades. Our hope is to have detailed information on both the process and the timeline for all of you by early next week. Please keep an eye on your Penn State email for further guidance from our advising office.

Advising appointments

Most advisers’ appointment calendars are now full until the week of Nov. 16. Advisers are not able to advise students via email. If you have not yet made an appointment to meet with your adviser, please make use of the resources on the Advising Hub. Advisers will still be available for appointments after the move to fully-remote learning after the Thanksgiving break. All appointments should be made via Starfish, not via email.

Our advising office has noticed some students "placeholding" multiple advising appointment timeslots. In some cases, these students have not shown up for any of these scheduled times. Please refrain from doing this; it deprives your fellow students of the ability to make an appointment. Please make one appointment; any needed follow-up can be scheduled in consultation with your adviser after the first appointment.

Quarantine space remaining open

Penn State’s quarantine and isolation space will continue to be available after Nov. 20 for students who need to quarantine or isolate over the Thanksgiving break or after courses resume remotely on Nov. 30.

Students who are identified as needing to isolate or quarantine on or before Nov. 20 are expected to complete their isolation or quarantine period on campus or in another suitable single occupancy space off campus before they leave for Thanksgiving break and remote learning.

Things to do

The first speaker in this fall's Dean's Equity Forum, Mildred Boveda, assistant professor of special education and cultural and linguistic diversity at Arizona State University, will speak on "Developing Intersectional Competence: Are General and Special Education Preservice Teachers Prepared to Respond to Multiple Differences?" Her presentation will be from from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, with informal conversation to follow from 5:15 to 6 p.m. Join via Zoom: https:// Password: 541398

For information about some of the other cultural events taking place both in person and virtually, check Penn State News.


Enjoy the weekend

We are having unseasonably warm weather this weekend, so do your best to take some time to get out and enjoy it.

All my best,

Dean Kimberly Lawless

October 30, 2020

College of Education Student Weekly Update #10

Black Lives Matter

I want to take a moment to reflect on the fatal and senseless shooting this week of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia. This is yet another reminder of the risks that Black members of our community face and its corrosive impact on our country and our society. These incidents affect all of us, but most directly our students, faculty and staff of color. We must and will stand together to become an anti-racist society - lives literally depend on it. Our hearts are with the Wallace family, the West Philadelphia community, and those who continue to experience trauma in the wake of these racist and brutal acts.


The Pennsylvania Department of State is urging all voters who have not yet cast their mail-in or absentee ballot to hand-deliver their voted ballots as soon as possible to their county election office or other county drop off location or drop box. Ballots must be delivered by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Voters should no longer use United States Postal Service delivery as it is too late to guarantee your ballot will be delivered in time. This guidance is in response to a decision on Oct. 28 by the U.S. Supreme Court that did not completely resolve whether mail-in and absentee ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day will be valid. In-person voting on Election Day is not affected by this change. For more information regarding this change, please visit

Drop boxes are county specific. Only ballots from the PA county in which the drop box is located will be received. If your mail-in or absentee ballot is for a county different than your campus location, then you must return your ballot to the county office that sent you the ballot. If you have already placed a ballot in an incorrect county drop box, the county will mail the ballot to the correct county office.

If you have already placed a ballot in an incorrect county drop box, the county will mail the ballot to the correct county office.

If you are voting in Pennsylvania and will be quarantined or in isolation due to COVID-19 on Election Day, you may submit an Emergency Application for an Absentee Ballot. You may designate an individual to serve as your Authorized Representative to deliver your application, receive, and return your emergency ballot no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day to the county office in which you are registered to vote. For those who have already requested but have not submitted a mail-in or absentee ballot, they may authorize a Designated Agent to deliver your mail-in or absentee ballot. The University Contact Tracing Team and Residence Life staff are available to assist quarantined or isolated students with voting processes. For those registered to vote outside of Pennsylvania, please visit Vote411 to contact your county or state election office for more information.

For more information about voting, please visit PSU Votes. If you have any questions regarding the voting process, please contact The Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose at (814) 867-6402 or

Know before you go (home)

Make sure that when you leave campus for Thanksgiving break, you don't take COVID-19 home with you. Take advantage of the free, voluntary COVID-19 testing for students prior to leaving campus. Penn State is partnering with Vault Health for the departure testing, which will be conducted either in person at predetermined testing sites on certain campuses or via self-administered kits.

Students can begin booking appointments for in-person testing times beginning Nov. 6. Voluntary on-campus departure testing will be offered from Nov. 12 through Nov. 19 at University Park.

For students who may test positive when planning for departure, the University will continue to make isolation space and support available so they can return safely to their families in their home communities.

The University’s testing protocols for students, which include walk-up testing and random surveillance testing, will continue through Nov. 20. There will be no surveillance or walk-up testing from Nov. 21-29. However, the University will be prepared to support students with health services for those who remain on campuses over the Thanksgiving week.

All random surveillance testing will resume on campuses on Nov. 30 and continue through the remainder of the fall semester for students who may continue to live on or near campus.

For more information, check Penn State News.

Take what you need

Students living at in the residence halls must leave their on-campus residence for Thanksgiving break by 4 p.m. on Nov. 22.

After Nov. 22, students will not be permitted to return to their residence halls until the start of the spring semester.

When you leave campus for Thanksgiving break, take everything you will need for the remainder of the year until the start of the spring semester, including books, notes, instruments, sports gear, computers, mobile devices, charging/power cords, appropriate weather/season apparel, medications, plants and other key personal items.

Students who are not planning to return to campus for the spring semester should plan to completely remove all personal belongings.

As in past years, the University will work with students who may need to remain in on-campus housing through Thanksgiving break and beyond.

Students and their families should check their email and for additional instructions leading up to Nov. 20, as further information about the end of the semester, finals and the transition to fully remote learning is forthcoming.

For more information, check Penn State News.

Spring registration

Registration for the SPRING 2021 semester will open in LionPath on Nov. 1. Your enrollment appointment date will show in your LionPath student center. Please also check the registration timetables here to see when you will be able to register (dependent upon the number of credits you have earned to date) for Spring 2021. Please remember that you must complete the pre- registration activity guide and financial responsibility agreement in your LionPath account prior to registration for every semester. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact your academic adviser.

Spring 'wellness days'

To support the mental health and well-being of students, faculty and staff during the spring 2021 semester, Penn State will hold three wellness days on which no classes will be held. The wellness days will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Thursday, March 11 and Wednesday, April 7. The University scheduled these dates after receiving input from hundreds of instructors and students. Different days of the week were selected so that no course will be impacted disproportionately.

Wellness days, which will be in place for both undergraduate and graduate students and instructors across all campuses, will be non-instructional days during which no classes will be held, although University offices will remain open. In addition to no instruction, special programs will be developed by committees reflecting the depth and breadth of Penn State’s expertise to support and engage students, instructors and staff. Programs will span a range of topics, including physical and mental health, spiritual wellness and social connection.

For more information, check Penn State News.

Enjoy the weekend — safely

In the wake of last week's large gatherings of students at some off-campus apartment complexes, the University and surrounding community have announced joint enforcement efforts to help prevent similar gatherings during this weekend's Penn State-Ohio State football game.

I urge you to please, be responsible and safe this weekend. Don't go to large gatherings to watch the game. Remain masked and socially distanced.

A third wave of the virus is sweeping through the nation and the world, and our number of positive cases has risen here in State College as well. We need to remain vigilant. Now is the time to double down on our efforts in masking, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

Every single one of us needs to act responsibly and take these simple measures over the next few weeks so that we can keep our local communities safe, minimize the increase of COVID-19 cases, and send you home healthy on Nov. 20.


Dean Lawless

October 23, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update #9

Election reminder

With election day in less than two weeks, many individuals in our community may be feeling anxious and overwhelmed, no matter their political positions.

We recognize the election season may have put you under additional stress. Please know you are not alone. If it is impacting your course work and you find you need flexibility in assignments, please let your faculty members know, so they can work with you and help you to be successful in their classes.

Following are some resources for coping with stress during election season

Transition to remote instruction

The University has shared its fall departure plan for transition to remote instruction on Penn State News. Voluntary on-campus departure testing will be offered from Nov. 12 through Nov. 19 at University Park, and students are urged to take advantage of that testing, to ensure they don't unknowingly bring COVID-19 home to their families. Details can be found in the Penn State News article.

Penn State IT is working to assist students with preparations for the remote instruction period. Information on technology resources and the Technology Loaner Programs is available on Penn State’s Keep Learning website. For students, there is a limited supply of loaner laptops and mobile hotspots. Students can access the Mobile Technology Request Form with their Access ID and password

Cheer safely

As our football team prepares to play its first game of the season, I want to echo the letter President Barron wrote to the University community on Oct. 12.

As much as it's tradition to gather to cheer on the Nittany Lions, please, maintain the safety protocols in place. Keep gatherings small, socially distanced and within state regulations. Don't bring guests to town and limit your own travel.

It is especially important that everyone clearly understands that our efforts to achieve a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases in the region could be jeopardized if there is an influx – even a small influx – of visitors to town.

This is a time to show the nation and the world that we value and uphold our responsibility for the health and safety of one another, as we reduce travel and avoid large gatherings as we cheer on the team, for the benefit of all.

Things to Do at Penn State: Oct. 22-29

In addition to the football game, there are a lot of in-person and virtual events taking place this weekend. For a listing of some of the cultural events on tap this weekend and next well, check Penn State News.

How are you?

As we finish the ninth week of the semester, I'm hearing from my students how stressful things are getting, with exams, projects and papers all hitting at once. With the safety protocols in place to protect us from the pandemic, it's harder to find safe ways to decompress, and we are seeing the results of that across campus with increased mental health issues among our students.

Please know that if you need it, help is available. If you are having difficulties, know that you are not alone. Reach out to your faculty members and tell them how you're feeling. Reach out to each other, both to seek help and to offer it.

If you need help, there are mental health resources available:

Enjoy the weekend

The weather in State College has been unseasonably beautiful these past several days, and this weekend should be nice as well. Take some time to enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures while we can. Have a good weekend.

Be well,

Dean Kimberly Lawless

October 16, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update #8

Student programming resources

The University has put together a resource and information website for students and organizations to help navigate gatherings, travel and organizational meetings during the pandemic. Visit the site for more information.


Did you know that college-aged voters account for almost one-third of the eligible voting population? That means that by voting, you have the power to sway an election. If you have not yet registered to vote, you have only until Monday, Oct. 19. For information on where to register, click here.

Comprehensive information on voting is available at and also can be accessed via the Penn State Go App.

Below are additional links and information to assist you in registering to vote, requesting and submitting mail-in ballots, and voting in-person.

  • ·      University-wide Information
    • — Comprehensive information, including faculty resources for courses
    • and — Official elections websites for PA
    • — Comprehensive information provided by the League of Women Voters, including locating polling places, voter guides, and more. This website includes information for those voting outside of PA.
    • ·      University Park information
      • - Official elections website for Centre County.
      • A satellite elections office at the Bryce Jordan Center is available to all voters registered in Centre County through Oct. 21. Appointments are required. Schedule an appointment online at votingcenter
      • An official secure mail-in ballot drop box will be available in front of the HUB-Robeson Center on Pollock Road no later than Oct. 19 through Election Day, Nov. 3. The drop box will be locked and monitored 24/7 by video security surveillance, and ballots will be collected by Centre County Elections employees.
      • Voter registration and mail-in ballot request forms (paper and online) are available at The Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose, 102 HUB-Robeson, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If you need further assistance, contact The Center for Character, Conscience, and Public Purpose at or

Dean’s Equity Forum

Started last year, the Dean’s Equity Forum is a speaker series that’s mission is focused on the voices of external scholars who are working in critical social issues through education such as activism, equity pedagogy and participatory action as a learning context. Last we focused on bringing in senior scholars, this year, we are focusing on bringing in the powerful new perspectives of junior scholars.

I am excited to announce that this semester we will have two scholars presenting to our college. Mildred Boveda, a special education scholar from Arizona State University, will present her work on the preparation educators for diverse, equitable and inclusive practices on November 12 at 4PM. We are also arranging an hour for Dr. Boveda to have a more intimate conversation with faculty and advanced graduate students interested in her work.

We also have a second speaker Marcus Jenkins, a policy and practice scholar from the University of Arizona. Dr. Jenkins will present on Black Male Leadership, and will be joining us on Zoom on December 8th at 4PM with a faculty/advanced graduate student conversation to follow.

Stay tuned for links to join these presentations!

Cheer safely

When the Nittany Lion visited one of our College of Education classes earlier this week, he was wearing his mask – and he hopes you'll keep your mask on as you prepare to root for the football team when they plan on Oct. 24. President Barron issued a letter to the University community about the importance of protecting our University and the broader communities by maintaining mask-wearing, social distancing and limits on gatherings, even as we cheer on our team. To read his letter, and find out how to get a video of yourself cheering onto the stadium scoreboard through the Raise the Song virtual campaign, check Penn State News.

Dissertation fellowship opportunity

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is currently accepting applications for the 2021–2022 AERA Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Education Research competition for advanced graduate students. Proposals should be submitted through the online application by Nov. 16.

The Fellowship Program seeks proposals from advanced graduate students who are from racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in higher education. This program provides mentoring and funding support to develop research skills and conduct studies in education related fields and topics.

Applicants can come from graduate programs and departments in education research, the humanities, or social or behavioral science disciplinary or interdisciplinary fields, such as cultural studies, economics, history, political science, psychology, public policy or sociology.

Those interested in applying for the Minority Dissertation Fellowship are encouraged to watch the informational webinar, and work closely with their advisers, to prepare their proposals. Further information about the program, frequently asked questions, and application instructions are available in the Call for Proposals.

Stop. Smell. Be well.

With mounting scientific evidence that loss of smell is one of the most specific symptoms of COVID-19 infection, sensory scientists in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have launched a webpage to encourage people to perform a daily smell test in an effort to help nip disease spread in the bud.

Researchers have found that certain cells at the top of the nasal cavity harbor proteins that the coronavirus targets when invading these cells. The local disruption that occurs is different from the loss of smell that occurs with the common cold, which is due to blockage of the nasal passages. With COVID-19, many patients lose the ability to smell without being stuffy or congested.

The Stop. Smell. Be Well. webpage urges page visitors to make smell checks part of their daily routine. The page suggests that people can use their morning coffee, food, flowers, perfume, shampoo, deodorant or any other familiar aroma to monitor their ability to smell. For more information, check Penn State News.

Have a safe and productive remainder of the semester!

Dean Kim Lawless

October 9, 2020

College of Education Student Update – Week 7

Spring 'wellness' days

By now, we have all become aware of the changes to our spring semester calendar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will start a week later, on January 18th. Although the semester begins on the 18th, it is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we will be observing this important day of reflection and service. To accommodate the later start, the University's spring academic calendar also eliminates spring break to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus through travel. However, there will be "wellness" days built into the calendar to support the mental health and well-being of students, faculty and staff.

Wellness days will be non-instructional days for students and instructors and no classes will be held, although University offices will remain open. Special programs will be developed and delivered on wellness days to support and engage students, instructors and staff, and discourage travel outside of campus communities.

The dates and number of wellness days has not yet been determined, but a committee is being formed to identify the approach, including the number of days, the timing, and the types of activities that will support and engage students, faculty and staff. For more information, check Penn State News.

Mask Up-date

As part of an ongoing town-gown partnership with State College Borough during the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State police officers will now enforce the State College Borough COVID-19 safety ordinance on the University Park campus. The municipal ordinance uses fines to enforce mask wearing, social distancing and gathering limits in State College Borough, and will be used specifically to support mask wearing and dispersal of large gatherings on the University Park campus, including for campus visitors.

This measure does not change Penn State's on-campus masking, social distancing and gathering requirements for students, faculty and staff that currently are in place. However, those requirements impose sanctions on academic standing and employment status for noncompliance. Enforcement of the borough ordinance on campus now enables the University to enforce compliance by visitors to campus.

For details, check Penn State News.

Walk-up testing moves to Pegula

With the onset of colder weather, Penn State’s walk-up COVID-19 testing location at University Park has moved from the HUB Parking Deck to the main concourse of Pegula Ice Arena, effective today (Friday, Oct. 9).

Students at University Park who are asymptomatic of COVID-19 but want to be tested because of possible virus exposure or other reasons may access the Pegula walk-up testing site from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Registration is not required, but students will need to bring their Penn State ID and smartphone and refrain from eating, drinking, chewing or smoking 30 minutes before arriving for their tests. Testing is free.

Students who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not visit the walk-up site and instead seek testing at University Health Services by scheduling an appointment online through myUHS or by calling UHS at 814-863-0774. The UHS Advice Nurse also is available 24/7 by calling 814-863-4463. Students can find more information on COVID-19 testing options from Penn State Student Affairs.

For more information, check Penn State News.

Mark your calendar

Francesca Lopez, the Waterbury Chair in Equity Pedagogy in the College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction, is hosting a webinar, “Student Resistance, Care and Belonging" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22.

Dr. Lopez will explore the importance of emotional warmth in the classroom, in both K-12 and higher education settings. What does teacher caring look like? How can engaging in caring relationships promote student belonging? What is student resistance?

Registration is required. For more information, visit

Town hall recording available online

The Oct. 4 virtual Town Hall event for students and families is now archived and available for online viewing at Individuals who watched the event are encouraged to fill out this anonymous survey.

The panel addressed an array of questions during the hour-long, livestream event, ranging from coronavirus-specific issues such as testing, isolation and quarantine, and misconceptions around the virus, to aspects of campus life, including the football season, recreational activities and opportunities for students, Election Day voting, fall commencement and spring semester.

Voting information and resources

  • LLAED webinar: Our colleagues in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education are hosting a non-partisan election presentation to empower and educate voters so they feel confident going into this election. The presentation, scheduled for noon Monday, Oct. 12, includes information on how to check your voting status, update your information and confirm your polling place. While the presentation is geared toward students, it also is open to faculty and staff. Use j/96591100355 to connect.
  • On-campus resources: Penn State, in collaboration with The Centre County Board of Elections, has developed a number of resources to make voting easier and more accessible for students and community members alike.
    • Satellite elections office: The Centre County Board of Elections has designated the Bryce Jordan Center Ticket Center on Penn State’s University Park Campus as a satellite elections office for the 2020 general election. All voters registered within Centre County, including students and nonstudent residents, can use the center to process mail-in ballot and absentee ballot requests, complete ballot packets, and submit ballots for secure processing. Voters are required to schedule an appointment in advance at The office will be staffed by local government election employees, and parking at Bryce Jordan Center will remain free to voters during office hours.
    • HUB-Robeson Center: Students at University Park may use voter services at the HUB-Robeson Center and online. Students can pick up and complete a postage-paid voter registration application at the Center for Character, Conscience and Public Purpose, 102 HUB-Robeson Center. In addition, students can obtain a mail-in ballot application at the center, or request one through Completed ballots can be submitted to a secure ballot drop box in front of the HUB on Pollock Road, which will be locked and monitored 24/7 by video security surveillance camera.
  • Key dates and polling information
    • Oct. 19 – Last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania
    • Oct. 27 – Last day to request a mail-in ballot in Pennsylvania
    • Nov. 3 – Election Day

For more information about voter registration and election resources at Penn State, including how to register, where to register, and how to make an informed decision, visit

Your well-being matters

If you have not already done so, I strongly encourage you to get your flu shot. Student flu clinics are by appointment only and can be scheduled through myUHS. The cost of this year’s vaccine is $25, billable to insurance or the student’s Bursar account. For more information, check Penn State News.

As the semester continues, workloads are growing for all of us – and with those growing workloads comes growing stress. Please remember, if you need it, help is available. Reach out to each other, both to seek help and to offer it. If you need counseling, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is open for services. Students can receive services by calling CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a phone appointment to discuss concerns and review treatment options. In addition, College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic this fall via Zoom. To schedule a screening for services, email the Herr Clinic at

If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact CAPS Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT); the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741).


Dean Kim Lawless

October 2, 2020

College of Education Student Update Week 6

COVID-19 alerts – there's an app for that

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine are encouraging Pennsylvanians to download COVID Alert PA, a COVID-19 exposure notification app designed to help fight the spread of the virus. Penn State is asking everyone in the Penn State community – students, faculty and staff – to do the same and utilize the app to help support existing virus monitoring and contact tracing efforts at the University. Read the full story and get the download links on Penn State News.


Please exercise your right to vote in this very important election. As students, you have the option to vote in your hometown or in your university community, where you live for most of the year. Voting on the University Park campus will take place at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State Law has produced a 50-state non-partisan voting resource to help with mail-in, absentee, and in-person voting in all 50 states. Click here to access the site. To go directly to information for Pennsylvania, click here.

Student Affairs also has a voter registration and election information website that includes critical dates for voting in Pennsylvania.

Fall commencement

Penn State will honor the fall 2020 graduates with a virtual ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19. Similar to previous commencements during the ongoing pandemic, this virtual ceremony is the first celebration for the fall 2020 graduates, as they and their friends and family will be invited back to campuses at a time when it is safe to host large in-person gatherings. Read details on Penn State News.

Spring semester course registration

The spring class registration period will be condensed. Visit the Student Advising Hub for scheduling help and general College of Education registration information.

Get involved

A question arose in my first-year seminar this past week about student organizations that are specifically tied to the College of Education. We have a number of organizations that may interest you. For a list of student organizations for both undergraduates and graduate students in our college, click here.

S.O.A.R. and Restore

Join the College of Education Student Council's S.O.A.R. (Student Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources) sessions to learn about the Office of Education and Social Equity, the Herr Clinic, the Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity, UPUA, and more. S.O.A.R. sessions are planned for 7 p.m. Oct. 8 and 22; Nov. 5 and 19; and Dec. 3.

From virtual escape rooms to yoga, to College of Education Jeopardy, the Restore sessions are a good way to have fun, relax and meet new friends. Restore sessions are planned for Oct. 15 and 29; Nov. 12 and 26; and Dec. 3.

Join both with Zoom ID: 942 8160 7278. For more information, email

Mark your calendar

  • Penn State leaders will host a virtual Town Hall event at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, during Parents & Families Weekend, to answer questions from students and their families about Penn State’s return to campus and the University’s ongoing response to the coronavirus.
  • Shirley Malcom, director of education and human resources programs for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will speak on “Reimagining the University as a Place Where Inclusion Is the Norm: What Will It Take?” at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, via Zoom. Throughout her career, Dr. Malcom has focused her work on the lack of women, especially women of color, in science. She is a leader in efforts to improve accessibility of education and careers in science and engineering for girls and women. Join the event by clicking here.
  • Penn State News has compiled a list of performances, events, lectures and other activities for those interested in attending in-person and virtual cultural events. For details, check Penn State News.


Dean Kim Lawless

September 26, 2020

College of Educations Weekly Update Week 5 – Students

Checking in

I know from talking with students in my first-year seminar class that the workload is increasing in all of your classes at this point, and many of you have made it through your first exams of the semester. If you find your stress levels rising, take a deep breath, step back, and take some time to plan out your work. Don't forget to take the time to eat and sleep well. As you know, both of these are related to your success as well!

Town Hall

Penn State leaders will host a virtual Town Hall event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4, during Parents & Families Weekend, to answer questions from students and their families about Penn State’s return to campus and the University’s ongoing response to the coronavirus.

The hourlong event will be streamed live at, and will be archived online for later viewing. Questions can be submitted in advance anonymously via Google Forms at:

Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones and Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims will be joined by Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine, and Kelly Wolgast, director of the Penn State COVID-19 Operations Control Center. For more information, check the article on Penn State News.

Campus recreation reopening

Penn State Campus Recreation re-opened the IM Building to students yesterday (Sept. 25). All building visitors will be required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow enhanced health, safety and scheduling procedures.

Because the need to maintain physical distance has created dramatically reduced building capacities, the IM Building will be open only to students at this time with weekday hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The IM Building also will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Masks will be mandated at all times while inside the IM Building and social distancing of six feet in common areas is required. In addition, all students will be required to reserve their workout times before visiting the IM Building. For more information, check the article on Penn State News.

More things to do

If you're looking for safe activities to do, know that Penn State News publishes an article every week with information about what's going on. This week's article can be found here, and includes performances, events, lectures, exhibits and virtual tours. Wherever you go and whatever you do, please remember to follow safety protocols – wear your mask, social distance and wash your hands often.

COVID-19 reporting

The University has been continually refining its COVID-19 processes, in an effort to better inform and protect our University community. Just like following the safety protocols, however, it's up to all of us to help.

In addition to the formal contact tracing plan, the University has developed new COVID-19 reporting forms to enable students, staff and faculty to easily submit information about students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who identify themselves as close contacts of students who have tested positive.

Get your flu shot

Due to the pandemic, getting your flu vaccine is more important than ever to not only reduce your risk from flu, but to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources. Many people at higher risk from flu also seem to be at higher risk from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are at higher risk, it is especially important to get a flu vaccine this year.

Penn State University Health Services (UHS) will offer student flu vaccine clinics at University Park. The clinics, to be held in Alumni Hall in the HUB-Robeson Center, are open to all students by appointment only and can be scheduled through myUHS. The cost of this year’s vaccine is $25, billable to insurance or the student’s Bursar account.

Although most insurances cover the cost, to make sure students have access to the vaccine, the Student Fee Board has allocated funds to cover the cost of the flu vaccine for the first 4,536 students. For more information, visit

For more information

The University is maintaining several sources of updated information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including

Be well,

Dean Kim Lawless

September 18, 2020

College of Education Weekly Student Update, Fall – Week 4

Community Survey results

The University recently released its Community Survey results in a story on Penn State News. This is the survey they launched in February to gauge faculty, staff and student experiences related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

My take-aways are that we as a University and a college have A LOT of work to do, and the data from our college is more representative of what the actual climate is because we are much more racially aware and actually "in the fight" to end systemic racism. These data should serve to feed our collective mission to shift our culture to one that is entirely inclusive and where every member of our community – faculty, staff, and students – feels a strong sense of belonging, personal safety and is respected for the assets they bring to Penn State.

To view the survey dashboards and report, click here. Please take the time to look through the results, think critically about what they mean, and how we can move forward together. I look forward to conversations and joining you all in this work.

HHD's Lecture Series

I'm excited to share with you that the College of Health and Human Development's Dean's Lecture Series this fall will focus on "The Impact of Structural Racism and Racial Discrimination on Health, Wellness, and Well- Being." They are holding two events on the topic:

  • Sept. 24, 4 p.m.: Screening of "The Skin You're In" and Q&A with the film's producer, Thomas LaVeist. Details and the link to the Zoom webinar can be found here.
  • Nov. 12, 4 p.m.: Racism and Anti-Racism in Youth: A Developmental Perspective, with Deborah Rivas-Drake, professor of education and psychology at the University of Michigan. Details and information will be available here closer to the event.

We have our own lecture series, the Dean’s Equity Forum. This series will be run by the new advisory council established in this summer’s action plan in consultation with Office of Education and Social Equity. More to come as this committee gets formalized.

Free counseling

We know that the pandemic is still a reality and affecting all of us, on top of the regular stressors of the semester. We all have a variety of needs that must be met to manage our well-being. Whether you're feeling homesick, lonely or anxious, stressing about school, or just need someone to talk to, the Herr Clinic, part of the College of Education at Penn State, is here for you.

College of Education students can take advantage of free counseling services offered by the Herr Clinic this fall via Zoom. To schedule a screening for services, email the Herr Clinic at

Contact tracing, quarantine, and mitigation

A quick reminder to stay vigilant for calls/text/emails from contract tracing. Our ability to mitigate spread and prevent clusters hinges on quick and thorough contract tracing processes. These processes have been slowed down in some cases because people are not responding (quickly) to this outreach. Please respond quickly and with patience to contact tracers when they reach out to you.

As the University continues to address complications in its contact tracing plan, Two contact tracing student referral forms are now available; one allows students to self- report concerns and the other allows individuals to refer students who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who may have been exposed. Details of the updated procedures can be found on Penn State News.

Also, a reminder that if you do test positive or if you are listed as a close contact of someone who tested positive, you must quarantine for the full 14 days, even with a negative test.

Flu shots

While it’s not possible to say with certainty what will happen in the fall and winter, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe it’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both be spreading. In this context, getting a flu vaccine will be more important than ever. CDC recommends that all people 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine, because it is possible have flu, as well as other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time. Health experts are still studying how common this can be.

Getting a flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, however flu vaccination has many other important benefits. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization and death. Getting a flu vaccine this fall will be more important than ever, not only to reduce your risk from flu but also to help conserve potentially scarce health care resources.

Flu vaccine clinics for students begin on Sept. 21 by appointment only, with information available on Penn State News. For more information, visit

For information about the similarities and differences between influenza and COVID-19, check the CDC website here.

Be well and remember to take care of yourself vigilantly!


Dean Kim Lawless

September 11, 2020

College of Education Student Update - Week 3

Time to reflect

Today is a day to pause and to reflect …

While I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news of the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, I recognize that the vast majority of you were either very young or not yet born when the attacks took place, and you learned about Sept. 11 in history class.

The emotions we felt at that moment, and in the days, weeks and months that followed – the fear, the confusion, the uncertainty that gripped us, along with the mourning over the incredible loss of life – were and remain very powerful. Penn State has an archive of its coverage of the events from the University perspective, including a story about how classes were held, and how they focused on the events and the impact they had on students instead of the subject matter of the courses.

Thinking about that time in history, I can't help but think of the similarities to what is happening in our nation today with the pandemic and also with the battle against systemic racism. How are we as a college community responding to these events? What are we doing as individuals to help find solutions? When we look back on this moment in time 19 years from now, how will we feel about our role, our words and our actions? Whether we are talking about the pandemic or systemic racism, will we be able to say we were part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Equity updates

In that vein, I want to thank all of you who participated in the #ScholarStrike, whether you engaged in discussion in your classes or were involved in activities, discussions or events outside of class. Engaging in conversations about race, systemic racism and inequity is a critical step toward thinking about how we can effect change in our society. I would be really interested in learning more from you regarding what you feel were powerful activities that really pushed deep reflection, perspective change and empowerment for you to be an agent of change. Please share your thoughts with me at

COVID-19 safety reminders

Also related to my comments above, it's important for our success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community for everyone to be part of the solution. Cooperation with surveillance testing and strict adherence to quarantine and isolation protocols is critical for our ability to mitigate the spread of the virus.

If you are contacted for random surveillance testing, remember that it is mandatory for you to comply and get tested within 48-72 hours after being contacted.

The number of positive cases is continuing to grow on campus, and that is very troubling. So far, the transmission has remained student-to-student, with no cases yet of transmission between a student and faculty member. This is evidence that our masking, social distancing and sanitizing protocols on campus and in classrooms is working. I urge you to please follow those protocols all the time – both on and off campus. It is only with everyone's cooperation that we will drive down the number of positive cases.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive or is suspicious of COVID-19, contact University Health Services.

Spring course modes

In case you missed the article on Penn State News, the University announced on Sept. 8 that the flexible instructional modes developed for the fall 2020 semester, along with limited classroom capacities, will remain in place at all Penn State campuses in spring 2021, provided that the public health landscape allows for some in-person instruction. The University is taking these measures to maintain social distancing protocols and to meet or exceed state and national health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The University went with these codes because they allowed us to be the most nimble in changing direction back to a more standard in-person semester if the circumstances warrant it prior to the start of spring semester.

Students will be able to access the spring 2021 schedule of classes with information about the instructional mode for each course on LionPATH beginning Monday, Sept. 28. Once the schedule of courses is published, students should meet with their advisers to plan their courses and make sure that they are on track for important milestones such as entry to major and graduation. Priority course registration for students will begin on Monday, Oct. 19, and regular registration will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Students are encouraged to consult the "Registration Timetable" on the Office of the University Registrar website to determine when they are eligible to register, based on the number of credits they have earned.

Advising request

Because of a compressed course registration schedule, Greg Mason, director of Advising and Certification, has requested that undergraduate students make Zoom advising appointments now via Starfish, but that for freshmen, the appointments should NOT be until the first two weeks of November.

Having freshmen schedule an appointment for November is important this fall, for two main reasons:

  1. Course availability can change very quickly. Since first-year students will not be able to schedule classes until mid-November anyway, it would be best to see them shortly before their registration date.
  2. Given the compressed timeline this semester, it will be critical that our advising appointment time slots in late September and October be reserved for seniors, juniors and sophomores.

We have 1,500 undergraduates in the college at University Park, and five full-time advisers. Seeing students at the appropriate time of the semester allows us to ensure that there is equity of availability in our advising operations.

Thank you for your cooperation with this schedule, which will benefit all of our students.

Thank you

Next Wednesday, Sept. 16, marks six months to the day since we moved classes online due to COVID-19. Back then, I don't think any of us imagined that we would still be dealing with the pandemic at this point, with no immediate end in sight.

The emotional toll this has taken on all of us should not be underestimated. We all are continuing to deal with a lot that remains outside of our control. There is a sense of loss, I think, over our inability to interact with our faculty and fellow students in the same way we did before the pandemic hit.

At the same time, as I looked back at the emails I've sent to you since Feb. 28, I see just how much we have been able to accomplish, and I am so thankful to all of you for all you have done to adjust, adapt and keep on doing what you do best.

Please, remember that if you need it, help is available. Reach out to each other, both to seek help and to offer it. If you need counseling, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is open for services. Students can receive services by calling CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a phone appointment to discuss concerns and review treatment options.

If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact CAPS Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT); the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741).

Thank you so very deeply for everything you do!


Dean Kim Lawless

September 4, 2020

College of Education Student Update – Week 2

Happy Friday! Whether you are here with us in person or learning remotely this fall, I hope your semester is off to a good, productive start.

I know this Labor Day weekend is unusual in that classes will be held on Monday. This is being done to minimize travel and lower the risk of possibly spreading coronavirus on campus, so I echo President Barron's request in the email he sent out this afternoon:

"I ask that you not travel over this holiday weekend, have visitors from out of town or attend parties or barbecues. We must make every effort to mitigate the virus' spread, including continued masking and social distancing."

This weekend could make or break our efforts to have a sustained in-person component to the fall semester. In the Penn State News story President Barron referenced in his email, he further stated:

"Our ability to manage transmission and rate of growth of positive cases is critically important. Next week, we will assess data following the holiday weekend, and determine whether we need to take mitigation steps at University Park including temporary or sustained remote learning."

It is only through our collective efforts that we have a chance to control the spread of COVID-19 and keep levels of the disease low enough to be able to remain safely on campus this fall. That's where your actions count.

I thank you for following the safety protocols of masking, social distancing and frequent hand-washing, and ask you to redouble your efforts in those areas, to help us preserve the important in-person experience for you and your fellow classmates. As President Barron stated, "all it takes is everybody."


As incidents of racial injustice continue to make headlines in our nation, a growing movement nationally, the #ScholarStrike has evolved. This movement has created a space for academics to stand up against racism on Sept. 8 and 9.

I have asked College of Education faculty to stand in solidarity with this movement by choosing to use this time as a means to engage you in learning and discussion of systemic racism and violence against Black members and all members of color in our local and national community.

One way you can engage on this important topic is to attend the Toward Racial Equity at Penn State roundtable at 6 p.m. Sept. 8. Students should login at

The College's Office of Education and Social Equity (OESE) is also hosting a virtual screening of 13th a documentary by Ave Duvernay on 9/8 at 4:30. The film explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation's prisons are disproportionately filled with African- Americans. Please see the flyer sent to you by Maria Schmidt for registration.

Take care of you

As you adjust to your course workload this fall, please also be sure to enjoy some down time where you can relax and rejuvenate safely.

In this fall like no other, stress levels already are increased. Please, make sure you are caring for yourself. If you are struggling, please talk to your faculty members or your adviser and let them know now, so we can do our best to help you succeed.

If you need counseling, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is open for services. Students can receive services by calling CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a phone appointment to discuss their concerns and review treatment options.

If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact CAPS Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT); the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741). Stay safe, but also stay a community.

Be well and see you next week,

Dean Kim Lawless

Aug. 28, 2020

Welcome back

I want to welcome all of you back for fall semester. For those who are attending classes remotely, we're glad you're with us virtually. For those who are here in person, it's great seeing you in our buildings and classrooms. You bring a life and energy to our spaces that we really missed. Even though you are masked, we can see your smiles in your eyes, and that makes us smile as well.

Thank you for doing everything you can to keep us safe. Our classes had perfect compliance with the safety protocols, which does not surprise me, but does make me extremely happy and proud.

Shout out

The College of Education has been recognized on Penn State News and will be included in a video being put together by the central communications unit to illustrate the positive start to our semester. A special shout-out goes to senior Jordan Gardner, who was quoted in the article, and also to students who are in Dr. Van Meter's class in the Bryce Jordan Center, and those in the First-Year Seminar I'm co-teaching with Annemarie Mountz, for your willingness to be included in the video.

Mandatory surveillance testing

There has been some confusion about the need to participate in the University's surveillance testing program. The University's FAQ and a story on Penn State News state clearly that if you are contacted about being tested, you are required to complete the testing. This is part of the layered approach the University is using to control the spread of COVID-19.

Students and employees who are learning, working or living on campus will be selected randomly and contacted by email and text message to answer a few screening questions and to schedule an appointment.

If selected, you are required to complete the free testing and should plan to do so within 48-72 hours after being contacted. Students who don’t participate will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct.

Contact tracing

If you get a call from an unknown number in the 814 area code, please answer it. It may be a contact tracer calling to inform you of possible exposure to COVID-19. If someone in one of your classes tests positive, you may not be part of the contact tracing for that person. Only those individuals who are determined to have been in close contact with that individual – defined as being closer than 6 feet for more than 10 minutes – will be included in the contact tracing and testing plan. Because masking and social distancing protocols are in place in classrooms, it is unlikely that faculty members or classmates will need to be tested in these circumstances.

For more information about the plan, check the University FAQ and the story on Penn State News.

Anyone interested in learning about the training our contact tracers have, or the criteria they use for contact tracing, can visit the Penn State Extension website.

Managing the spread

We all need to keep in mind that as of this moment, there is no way for us to stop the spread of COVID-19. There is no treatment, there is no cure, and there is no vaccine to prevent it. We have seen and are going to continue to see cases of COVID-19 on campus and in our community.

The strategy for any place, whether a K-12 school district, a university, city or state, is not targeted at eliminating the virus. It is targeted around managing it.

As we progress through this semester, our goal is to identify positive cases and manage the spread by removing them from circulation. As we move forward and test, the numbers are going to go up. But the surveillance testing, contact tracing and immediate action to quarantine or isolate those who are suspected to have the virus or who have tested positive will help to reduce the spread.

Our success depends on everyone – faculty, staff and students – understanding this and working together to follow the plan.

Quick hits

  • Penn State Learning staff and tutors will provide in-person and remote tutoring as well as Guided Study Groups to support students in the fall 2020 semester.
  • Penn State launched a publicly-accessible COVID-19 dashboard to share data on its COVID-19 surveillance testing program as well as the number of individuals in isolation and quarantine. The dashboard can be accessed here.
  • Penn State students and employees should continue to take precautions against COVID-19, such as wearing face masks, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face, and avoiding contact with those who are sick. This article offers guidance about what to do if you are sick or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Be well,
Dean Kim Lawless

Aug. 21, 2020

A note from all of us in the College of Education as we start the Fall 2020 semester…


As we approach the first day of classes for this most unusual fall semester, I want to welcome you to the College of Education! Whether you are a first year or returning student, and either here with us in person or joining us remotely, we are SO glad to have you here in the College.

While the coming semester will certainly be different than any of us ever imagined, we are dedicated to providing you a rich, albeit modified, Penn State experience!

Over the summer our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to reimagine powerful classroom practices and arrange our spaces to accommodate social distancing. We created new ways of providing educational experiences that allow for flexibility and modifications meeting your educational needs.

We will continue tweaking our plans as we learn from you what is needed and want you to know that you can reach out to us through your advisors or faculty at any time.

We are here for YOU!

We are in this together!

By now I'm sure you've heard about the infamous gathering outside of East Halls, the interim suspension of a fraternity for a potential violation of COVID-19 rules regarding socials, unmasked gatherings outside the Creamery, and other reports. I would like to believe that none of our College of Education students been involved in these events.

Every such report makes my heart hurt, because it's putting into jeopardy our ability to enact all of the plans that we all worked so hard to put in place for fall semester classes. We all are in this together, and together is the only way we will make it through this pandemic.

It is my sincere hope that all members of our College community – faculty, staff and students – exercise their best judgement, make good decisions to minimize risk, and help protect one another.

To paraphrase the message from President Barron, I don't want any of you to be the person responsible for sending everyone home.

In advance of the start of fall semester, the University has launched a public health campaign, Mask Up or Pack Up. State College also adopted an ordinance to enforce masking and restrictions on gatherings. There is a direct expectation for everyone to take personal action to help create a safer environment on our campus and in our community. Unless you are inside your residence hall room with the door closed, or in your vehicle, we all are expected to wear our masks and practice social distancing. That means inside buildings, and also outdoors anywhere on campus and in State College.

Quick updates

Below are links to information and resources you should read:

Be well

There is a lot of stress associated with the start of classes on Monday. Please take care of yourselves, both physically and mentally. Reach out to each other, both to seek help and to offer it. Contact your adviser or faculty members if there is anything you feel they can do to help you.

Have a great semester, and remember, #WeAre #PennState!

Dean Kim Lawless

Aug. 11, 2020

College of Education is Gearing up for Back to State!

Members of the College of Education student community, we all are looking forward to seeing you – live and virtually – in the next two weeks, as classes begin on Aug. 24. We have worked very hard over the summer to ensure that our campus environment will be as safe as possible, and also to ensure that you will get the high-quality education you expect from us, whether you are here in person with us, or learning remotely.


As hard as we have worked, much of the success of fall semester depends upon you and your fellow students. If you follow the requirements set in place, we should be able to continue in person classes through Nov. 20 as planned. Failure to comply will endanger you, your fellow students, our faculty and staff, and the larger community, and could cause the University – and the surrounding businesses that rely on your presence – to shut down. The good news is that the requirements, including wearing a mask, maintaining 6-foot social distancing and sanitizing often, are not all that difficult to do. We have re-organized our campus facilities to help you maintain these mitigation strategies.

Student Compact

All students have been given access to carefully read and sign the “Penn State Coronavirus Compact” in LionPATH. The agreement covers a variety of critical topics and health and safety expectations and requirements for the upcoming semester, including agreeing to participate in COVID-19 testing and contact tracing throughout the semester; isolate or quarantine if needed; wear face masks and social distance on campus; adhere to travel policies; and get a flu vaccination when available. The agreement also covers potential consequences for failing to abide by the compact in ways that risk others’ health and safety, such as through the student conduct process.

Student Affairs has set up a website FAQ to address concerns some have raised about the Compact. If you have questions or concerns about the Compact that are not addressed in the FAQ, email Danny Shaha, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, at

Off-Campus mandate

The State College Borough Council passed a temporary ordinance, supported by Penn State, that mandates mask-wearing and social distancing in most instances and limits the size of gatherings in the borough, directly adjacent to the University Park campus.

Largely in line with the directives of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Gov. Tom Wolf’s guidance, the ordinance requires individuals to wear face masks, with some exceptions, in most public spaces and businesses that serve the public where social distancing of six feet is not possible. It limits gatherings to no more than 10 people in a residence and no more than 25 in State College parks and other borough properties. The new law also mandates social distancing while waiting in lines in the public right-of- way and limits the number of people waiting in lines to enter a business to 10 individuals.

Anyone who violates the ordinance is subject to a citation for a civil infraction and a fine of $300.

Classroom and stairway changes

Our classrooms and hallways are going to look different this fall, as well. We have rearranged the furniture and added signs to facilitate social distancing in the classrooms, and also set up new traffic patterns for stairways. View pictures of some of the changes here.


During the fall 2020 semester, as Penn State takes aggressive measures to help keep the University community safe during the coronavirus pandemic, Penn State undergraduate and graduate students who wish to complete required experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and student teaching practicums, in person, will need to secure prior approval from University leadership. Whenever possible, students will have the option to complete required experiences remotely.

Students can request approval for an in-person internship, practicum or other experiential learning requirement by completing the Fall 2020 Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form. Requests are reviewed by the associate dean for your academic program, working with relevant University offices, and approved only if deemed sufficiently safe.

For more information, check Penn State News.

Ask your adviser

There is much that is different this fall because of the pandemic. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, you are bound to have questions about new processes and procedures – as well as your normal questions about your academic progress. Please be sure to reach out to your academic adviser with any questions you have.

Thank you

I want to thank you all for your perseverance, adaptability, flexibility and cooperation as we approach a fall semester like no other. We truly appreciate you and your presence here in the College of Education, and we want to make sure we do everything in our power to partner with you for your academic success.

Be well,

Dean Lawless

Aug. 3, 2020

Members of the undergraduate and graduate student communities, 

We in the College of Education are looking forward to the start of fall semester in just a few short weeks. Our faculty and staff have been working hard all summer to ensure you get the high-quality education you expect from us this fall. Our College is not the same without you, and we cannot wait to welcome you back. 

I wanted to give you a heads-up that the faculty members teaching your courses this fall will be communicating with you in the next few days or so with some general information about what to expect in their classes this fall. 

The emails will contain information about whether your course is going to be delivered in person (CP), mixed modes (CM), remote synchronous (CR) or online asynchronous (CW), and what that means in general terms for each course. More specific details about your courses will follow closer to the start of the semester. 

This semester will look different, even if you are back with us in person. For example, everyone on campus will be wearing masks, classes will have assigned seats to enable social distancing and facilitate contact-tracing, and a robust plan will be enacted for COVID-19 testing. 

So, I strongly encourage you to check your Penn State email daily and your Canvas course sites for important updates from your faculty, from the College of Education and from the University that will help you prepare yourself for success this fall. 

Stay safe and well, 

Dean Lawless

July  6, 2020

Dear College of Education students,

We wanted to reach out to share additional information and updates about your Fall courses. We are dedicated to having the courses you need to make academic progress available to you. We are pursuing numerous options to support your learning. Many of our courses will be offered in formats that will allow you time in person with your instructors and your peers.

Right now, things are in flux and should you log into LionPath the delivery format for your classes for fall may not be clear. When you view the schedule of courses it may say Zoom or web. However, this may not be accurate. It is important that you click into the course to see the current course delivery mode.

Course delivery modes will evolve over the next couple of weeks. This is because some courses will be offered in alternative formats and also because most classes will need to be moved to larger rooms to accommodate social distancing. This is also shared in a recent Penn State news article.

There are four primary modes for how your courses will be offered this fall as shared in the infographic found below.
In LionPath
In-Person instruction =CP
Mixed Mode =CM
Remote Synchonous = CR
Remote Asynchonous =CW

These formats will soon begin to appear in LionPath but may change during the summer as plans are finalized. It will be important for you to keep checking LionPath. Instructors will also be updating information about your classes in your CANVAS course sites.

Please also look in LionPath for a one question survey about your plans for Fall attendance.

Additional updates can be found at Back to State and the Keep Learning websites.

We are looking forward to an engaging Fall Semester in the College of Education. Communication with your advisors and instructors will be critical as course formats are finalized. They can help you to match course offerings to your preferred formats.


Dean Lawless

June 19, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that our College is working diligently to develop plans for the fall that are in line with the broad outline provided by President Barron in his announcement of our return to campus this fall. 

But before I delve into that, I want to take a moment to reflect on diversity- and equity-related happenings.

First, today is Juneteenth. Last year, Pennsylvania finally designated today as Juneteenth National Freedom Day. If you aren't sure what this holiday means, I encourage you to read the statement from President Barron, follow the link above to Juneteenth National Freedom Day, and read academic-based articles such as The Hidden History of Juneteenth for historical context. The University's Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity also sent out an email, available online, about the history of Juneteenth and local Juneteenth events that continue through this evening. 

Second, our Supreme Court issued two decisions this week that emphasize human rights for minoritized groups of people. On June 15, the Court declared that civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. Then on Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration's attempt to dismantle the DACA program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. The 5 to 4 decision was written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and emphasizes that the administration failed to provide an adequate reason to justify ending the DACA program and lacked a sound legal basis to do so.

I see these and other recent decisions as glimmers of hope, that we finally may be moving in the right direction as a nation toward true equality. It's up to us, as individuals and as a community, to keep the momentum moving in that very positive direction.

Turning to the business of returning to campus, the University's "Back to State" plans call for flexibility, and a mix of in-person, remote and hybrid delivery of courses based on class size and the ability to meet safely with social distancing protocols. Each college has been charged with determining what that will look like for them. Once we have a better idea of which courses we are likely to be able to hold in-person and which may be better as hybrid or online, we will hold a town hall to answer your questions, and also to gather your input, which will assist us in refining our plans. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to attend President Barron's town hall for students and families from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, June 22. Tune in at and submit your questions in advance anonymously via an online Google form for students and families

Please continue to check the Back to State website for the latest information from the University, and check our College FAQ for information specific to our College. As always, if you have any questions, please email

Thanks for your patience as we work to get this right.

Dean Lawless

May 24, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

Summer classes are now in full swing, with both Maymester and the first summer session underway. While we are not in physical classrooms, it still is great to see students and faculty meeting, with lots of meaningful educational interactions taking place. We are working to meet you where you are, and keep a positive trajectory on your learning and instructional needs, and I'm proud to see how hard you all are working to make this happen as well.

This summer, faculty are working to make their online courses engaging and rich in both content and experience. Staff are working to support your learning needs, wherever you are. Advisers are holding one-on-one remote counseling sessions to make sure you are taking the right courses to further your educational goals. And whenever we return to campus, we will be ready to welcome everyone back to our buildings, safely.

There are a few additional updates from Vice Provost Kathy Bieschke's office:

  • The recently launched “Back to State” website focuses on the University’s fall 2020 planning efforts and provides an abundance of information and hyperlinked resources for students, faculty, and staff.
  • REMINDER: Penn State is canceling, rescheduling, or moving to virtual delivery all nonessential events and meetings through at least June 30 at all university campuses. Any essential in-person meetings or events must have fewer than 10 attendees and maintain good social distancing practices, with all participants wearing face masks.

Remember, there are no classes this Monday, May 25, for the Memorial Day holiday. I hope you are able to have a relaxing long weekend.

Be safe and well.

Dean Lawless

May 10, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

I hope you all got a chance to tune into the University's conferral of degrees livestream on Saturday. From my perspective, it's clear that University leadership worked hard to create a meaningful program to honor our graduating students.

This is a screen capture of members of the Penn State Blue Band performing the Alma Mater - each in his or her own location, brought together via Zoom.You may even have caught a glimpse of one of our College's secondary education graduates, Luke Darrup, playing his saxophone with the Blue Band at the end of the ceremony. He's in the top row, second from the left, in the attached screen capture. If you missed the ceremony or want to view it again, you can go to to find a link to the recorded version, which will be posted once it's processed.

You also can go to to view sharable digital slides for each graduate, and to view the special videos we produced to honor our students.

Other updates from the University include:

  • President Barron will host a virtual Town Hall at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, to answer questions about how Penn State continues to manage the pandemic’s impacts, including workforce changes, plans for summer, and the work of three new task groups.
  • On May 6, Penn State Student Affairs began hosting virtual office hours to answer students’ questions and address concerns they may have during the remote-learning period.
  • Penn State officials and student leaders discouraged visits to campus due to COVID-19, with more signs and social-distancing guidance posted near campus landmarks.
  • As the pandemic places many Penn State students and their families under economic pressure, the Complete Penn State program is extending financial lifelines to seniors.

To obtain comprehensive, updated information at any time, visit:

Dean Lawless

May 1, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

Today is a day to celebrate, because we made it to the end of the semester. I know it wasn't easy for anyone to transition mid-semester to remote learning, but thanks to all of you, we made it work. As we head into finals week, I want to thank you all for your perseverance, adaptability and flexibility during these past seven weeks. Your resilience, creativity and willingness to do what was needed to succeed has enabled us as a College to overcome what seemed to be insurmountable odds. I am proud to be your dean.

Just a short time ago, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced the start of the process to reopen the state, and Centre County is among the first 24 counties slated to move from the red phase to the yellow phase, on May 8. The governor's announcement means that "some restrictions on work and social interaction will ease while others, such as closures of schools, gyms, and other indoor recreation centers, hair and nail salons, as well as limitations around large gatherings, remain in place."

Anticipating this very positive development, the University this week announced a transition to future-focused planning with the formation of three task groups focusing on critical areas impacting students, faculty and staff. The groups are working together to establish the necessary infrastructure and processes, consistent with public health and scientific guidelines, to uphold health and inform a plan for students, faculty and staff to return to campus.

In that news story, President Barron said, "At this time, the University remains optimistic for a fall return to on-campus learning in line with the latest directives and guidelines from the governor and other government and public health authorities. We will continue to keep the University and local community informed and plan to provide additional updates and information by June 15, if not earlier."

Our College also has formed working groups to help with the transition and we will keep you informed about our plans through both email and our College's FAQ.

In just 8 days from today, the University will be holding a virtual commencement. While we aren't able to congratulate our graduates in person at this time, the University-wide virtual celebration will be followed by breakout rooms where each college and campus will be honoring its graduating students. I hope all of you – whether you're graduating or not – will take the opportunity to visit our College of Education virtual graduation site to see what we've put together to honor our graduates. Information about how to access the site will be announced on Penn State Live soon.

In other news from the University:

As a reminder, the University's information website and our College's FAQ continue to be updated regularly. Please check both sites for the most accurate information.

The weather this weekend is supposed to be beautiful. I hope you are able to take some time to go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Dean Kim Lawless

April 26, 2020

Members of the College of Education student community,

As the end of the semester draws near, I know stress levels start to climb under normal circumstances. In these most unusual circumstances, stress levels already are increased. Please, make sure you are caring for yourselves. I know you've heard this from me in previous emails, but I cannot emphasize it enough – you need to care for yourself, first and foremost. If you are struggling, please talk to your faculty members or your adviser and let them know now, so we can do our best to help you succeed.

If you need counseling, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is open for services. Students can receive services by calling CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a phone appointment to discuss their concerns and review treatment options. If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact CAPS Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT); the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741). Stay safe, but also stay a community.

There has been a lot of news recently, so I also want to give you some brief updates:

  • President Barron’s message to the University community on April 23 announced some salary adjustments, a 3% across-the-board cut to budgets in the next fiscal year, and his intention to work with the Board of Trustees to freeze student tuition rates for the 2020-21 academic year. 

To obtain comprehensive, updated information at any time, visit:

I also want to once again reassure you that I firmly believe we as a College will emerge from this crisis more creative and agile than before, and that Penn State will continue to evolve as one of the world's great institutions of higher education. I thank you all again for all you are doing, for each other, for the College, and for Penn State.


Dean Kim Lawless

April 14, 2020

Members of the College of Education graduate student community,

I hope you all got a chance to take some down-time this weekend to recharge and refresh, while maintaining social distancing. This time of year is stressful under normal conditions as we approach the final few weeks of classes before the end of the semester. This year, the current remote learning environment and physical distancing has amplified the typical stress. Know that we are here for you and understand that things are not normal. Please be sure to communicate regularly with your advisors and faculty members to let them know how you are doing. If you are struggling, please don't wait until the end of the semester; say something now, so we can do our best to help you succeed.

The College leadership team is looking forward to hearing from you at our graduate student town hall, scheduled for 3-3:45 p.m. this Friday, April 17. Connect via Zoom. Feel free to email your questions in advance to so we can make sure we have good information to share with you during the town hall.

I have some important updates for you today:

  • In case you missed it in this morning's edition of Penn State Today: Penn State has announced updates to the Penn State Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) regarding testing and treatment amid the coronavirus pandemic. Students and their dependents covered through the SHIP who live within or outside of the United States will have no copays, deductibles, or coinsurance for treatments or testing related to COVID-19. Read the full story on Penn State News.
  • In addition to the virtual commencement ceremony the University is planning for May 9, we also are planning something specific to our College. Your suggestions for how to honor our graduating seniors and graduate students are definitely welcome. Send your ideas to as soon as possible.
  • Many of you are inquiring about summer sessions and camps. Central administration has said that information will be shared with the Penn State community later this week.
  • The University has launched WebLabs, which provides faculty and students with remote access to software and other resources they normally use in campus computer labs. For details, check the College's FAQ under the heading of Information about teaching and learning.

Learning what you need to be successful will help us to better identify solutions and guidance that can help you – and your classmates – so please keep the lines of communication open. I look forward to a packed town hall on Friday.

And as always, take care of yourselves both physically and mentally. Take breaks, realize how amazing you are and how much we miss you!

Dean Kim Lawless

April 9, 2020

Members of the College of Education graduate student community,

We're nearing the end of our fourth week of remote learning, and I want to know how you are doing, both inside and outside of class. I know many of you have been communicating with your faculty members and advisers, and that's important. Please, keep those lines of communication open.

In addition, our College leadership team wants to hear from you directly, so we're holding a town hall specifically for graduate students via Zoom from 3 to 3:45 p.m. next Friday, April 17. We want to know what's working for you, what we can do to better support and assist you, and what questions you have that we haven't addressed in our FAQ.

Feel free to email your questions in advance to so we can make sure we have good information to share with you during the town hall.

In the meantime, I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care. Please, while we are physically isolated, do not become socially isolated. Reach out to people, including your faculty members and advisers, for support, co-problem solving or anything else that comes to mind.

If you need counseling, know that Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at University Park is open for services. Students can receive services by calling CAPS at 814-863-0395 to schedule a phone appointment to discuss their concerns and review treatment options. If you have immediate urgent concerns, you can contact CAPS Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT); the Penn State Crisis Line 24/7 at 877-229-6400; or the 24/7 CrisisTextLine (Text “LIONS” to 741741). Stay safe, but also stay a community.

Dean Kim Lawless

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


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

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


March 13, 2020

Members of the College of Education graduate student community,

There has been a lot of information to digest this week, so I wanted to take a few minutes to recap important items for you. This message deals more specifically with information for you. I am sending similar messages to undergraduate students, and to faculty and staff, with information that more specifically relates to them

On Monday, we are going live with remote instruction of all of our undergraduate and graduate courses. Our website includes many resources to help. The two main sources from the University are for faculty and graduate students who are new to teaching a remote class, and for undergraduate and graduate students who are new to attending a remote class.

I strongly encourage anyone involved with teaching a course to visit the site, as it contains valuable information that can help even those who are experienced in remote course delivery. Likewise, please visit the resource if you are taking any classes.

For those of you who are teaching, the synchronous nature of the remote instruction needs to be emphasized. Classes need to be run via Zoom during their regularly scheduled times due to issues related to student financial aid and technology bandwidth. Please also record your lectures and post to your Canvas sites so that students who are not able to attend "live" can access the material.

Still, regardless of how prepared we may think we are, there likely will be bumps encountered on Monday. Please, if you are experiencing any difficulties in delivering courses please reach out to your direct supervisor or department head as soon as possible so we can work to assist you. Anyone experiencing difficulty in attending a course remotely should contact their course instructor immediately as well.

Many graduate students have had questions about impacts to research. In response, the Office for Research Protections has set up two comprehensive websites to answer research-related queries. General COVID-19 information for Penn State researchers can be found here; COVID-19 information for research involving human subjects can be found here. The Penn State IRB, IACUC, Biosafety, ESCRO, Drone, Dive Safety, Research Misconduct, and Conflict of Interest programs are fully functional and operating at standard capacity. They expect this to continue even if the University suspends operations for contagion control purposes. Program staff are able to work from home, should it become necessary. Program and staff email addresses continue to be monitored with the same or greater frequency.

Another issue of concern to many is the delivery of program reviews and dissertation defenses. We do not have any definitive word from the Graduate School on this topic, but will share information on the College's information website as soon as we receive it.

As we move forward, I ask everyone to continue to operate with flexibility and understanding. By helping each other, we all will be better-positioned to succeed in carrying out our teaching and work responsibilities, which in the end benefits our students.

As we have discovered, things are changing quickly, both nationwide and here at home. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please visit the University's coronavirus information page and our College-specific information page often.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Kim Lawless

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

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.

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 .

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