Welcoming students for a full in-person, on-campus experience in fall 2021!

Messiah is all about community. It’s who we are! This fall, Messiah is open for a full in-person, on-campus experience* providing face-to-face classes, robust co-curricular programs such as in-person chapel, athletics, clubs and organizations, as well as off-campus educational opportunities. The University has also opened up off-campus travel, on-campus socialization and restored visitor access to campus. Messiah's ongoing response to COVID-19 continues to prioritize community health and safety with student learning, care and support.

*Messiah University's fall 2021 plans are tightly integrated with evolving state and federal authorities' guidance and directives, and as such, are subject to ongoing change. Messiah will notify students and employees of urgent updates via campus email and updates to our emergency blog.


Messiah University COVID-19 Dashboard 

Let’s keep going! #TogetherAtMessiah

Together at Messiah we can keep our campus community healthy, safe and moving forward. Messiah’s “best shot” for getting our campus life back to normal is for our students and employees to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Learn more

Messiah's best shot is community immunity

Messiah's COVID-19 Response Protocols

Fall 2021

The below information represents current policies as Messiah University responds to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All policies are subject to change in response to local, state or federal directives, and/or a marked increase in the number of campus COVID cases and spread of illness. Updates will be made here and posted on the emergency blog

Messiah University views vaccination against COVID-19 as our best way to assure community health, and to avoid the kinds of disruptions seen across the country from COVID-19 illness or outbreaks. That said, given the fact that the FDA approval was for emergency use prior to the start of the semester, Messiah University did not mandate COVID-19 vaccination for students for the fall 2021 semester. 

We greatly appreciate our students and employees who have already been vaccinated for COVID-19, and we continue to encourage as many as possible to continue to do so. Immunizing yourself against COVID-19 will greatly minimize your risk of potential illness and inconvenience during the academic year. 

Messiah FAQs re: the COVID-19 vaccine (PDF)

Effective Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, Messiah University will be requiring indoor masking in all university buildings for all individuals regardless of their vaccination status.

The only exceptions to this requirement are as follows:

  • Masking is strongly encouraged but not required in residence halls and apartments.
  • Masking is strongly encouraged in campus dining facilities when not eating or drinking.
  • For employees: masking is not required in team spaces for fully vaccinated employees who have uploaded confirmation of vaccination to the Engle Center and shown the confirmation email to their supervisor. Team spaces are individual offices or other common spaces that are occupied by individuals who regularly work together and where vaccination status of those present can be known and confirmed to the employee supervisor. Unvaccinated individuals must mask in team spaces but may still work unmasked when by themselves in an office space with the door closed.
  • Speakers and presenters, including teaching faculty, may remove their mask when speaking if able to maintain a distance from others of at least six feet.
  • Masking is not required when actively competing or working out in indoor campus recreational facilities (including the Fitness Center).
  • Masking is not required outdoors.

Read the full masking announcement (08.23.21)

Important to note

Face shields, gaiters, bandanas, etc. are not an acceptable alternative to face masks on Messiah's campus. Any exception to this protocol requires a documented medical exemption verified by the Engle Center.

Why can't we use gaiters?

Per the CDC, the most effective way to control respiratory droplets is by wearing a double layer cloth or surgical material mask. According to research done at Duke University, Virginia Tech, UC Davis, Trinity University (Texas), and Johns Hopkins University, the gaiter is less effective in controlling respiratory droplets than the double layer cloth or surgical material masks.  As such, we need everyone to wear actual masks covering the nose and mouth. Replacement masks are available for students in the Residence Life Office and for employees in the Human Resources and Compliance suite on the first floor of Old Main. 

Student testing requirements 

  • Fully vaccinated students do not have to participate in pre-arrival or ongoing surveillance COVID-19 testing. As per the CDC guidelines, vaccinated individuals only need to be tested when symptomatic or exposed to someone confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. 
  • Students who are not documented in the Engle Center health portal as fully vaccinated will be automatically enrolled in the campus surveillance testing pool throughout the semester.  

Summary of fall 2021 student testing plan: 

  • All residential and commuter students were required to provide documentation of either COVID-19 vaccination or of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival on campus. 

  • On-campus unvaccinated students will participate in free asymptomatic population sampling testing throughout the semester, as coordinated by the University. 

  • Once on campus, all unvaccinated students will use the daily Falcon Health Check-In procedure to register their temperatures and presence of symptoms with the Engle Center. 

  • Regardless of vaccination status, symptomatic individuals or individuals with known exposure to a confirmed positive case will be tested and provided instructions from the Engle Center on what to do while awaiting results.  

  • The University uses a combination of point-of-care (POC) testing, and/or external lab testing based on a student's individual situation, symptoms or exposure.  

  • The University is closely following the CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Guidelines. For those who test positive, we contact the DOH immediately according to HIPPA guidelines, and follow the appropriate contact tracing and notification protocol. 

Employee testing requirements 

Vaccinated employees   

Fully vaccinated employees are not required to submit initial or ongoing (surveillance) COVID-19 tests to the University; these employees are only required to test if symptomatic or exposed to someone who is confirmed to have COVID-19.  

Unvaccinated employees  

All unvaccinated employees (full and part-time, permanent and temporary) were required to upload a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR test) dated between August 15- 21 by August 23, 2021. 

  • Each week thereafter, the University will require a minimal 10 percent sample of the unvaccinated employee population to complete surveillance testing within the week. These employees will be notified via email of their testing requirements and provided with a link for uploading their test results.  Employees are responsible for securing their own PCR tests (i.e. CVS, Rite Aid, etc.), at their own expense. There are free options such as CVS, which provides testing for free to employees who work in congregate settings such as colleges and universities: 
  • For more information on finding a testing site in your area visit It is important to identify any charges for testing in advance as not all testing is free. 
  • The Engle Center is not currently available to conduct employee surveillance testing due to staffing and student services/demand issues.   

Role of the Engle Center in employee testing

  • The Engle Center is not currently available to conduct employee testing (surveillance, asymptomatic or symptomatic) due to staffing and student services/demand issues.   
  • The only exception to this policy is if an employee is identified as a close contact due to a work-related on-campus exposure to a COVID-positive individual. In this case, a member of the University's contact tracing team would contact the employee to instruct them when/where to report for testing at the Engle Center. 


Public health expectations from the state and CDC will continue to mean that unvaccinated students who are symptomatic and/or identified as close contacts will need to return home* for a 7-10-day quarantine. 

Fully vaccinated students do not have to automatically quarantine. If exposed to a confirmed COVID-positive individual, fully vaccinated students will be tested, but do not have to quarantine* unless they develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. 

*Note: Limited quarantine housing is available to students who demonstrate circumstances that would prevent them from quarantining at home. Regardless of their quarantine location, the University will work with students to continue their coursework remotely. 


The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to require the isolation of individuals who test positive for COVID-19 throughout the semester.  

Any individual, regardless of vaccination status, who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate at home* for a minimum of 10 days (the current CDC time period).  

*Note: Limited isolation housing is available to students who demonstrate circumstances that would prevent them from isolating at  home. Regardless of their isolation location, the University will work with students to continue their coursework remotely. 

Regarding Messiah's fall 2021 semester 

The CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health continue to advocate the isolation of all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and quarantining unvaccinated individuals who are symptomatic or identified as a close contact of a COVID-positive person.  

If a student becomes symptomatic, exposed or COVID-positive and they are required to isolate/quarantine, will they receive a housing or dining refund? 

Students who become symptomatic, exposed or COVID-positive who must isolate/quarantine will not be provided refunds for housing or dining. 

Questions regarding this policy, or an individual student’s account, may be directed to Student Financial Services at or 717.691.6004.  

Messiah University will be restoring its own schedule of public events, as well as facility rentals for the 2021-22 academic year. All guests and attendees are required to follow the university’s posted protocols for masking, social distancing and other health and safety measures.  

Masking protocol for indoor events at Messiah University

Messiah University is currently  requiring the wearing of masks in university buildings, including indoor events, regardless of vaccination status, due to the occurrence of COVID-19 cases on campus and the high level of transmission in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  This masking requirement at indoor events includes all students and employees as well as all off-campus visitors.

As you attend an indoor event at Messiah University you will be expected to wear a mask to enter the venue, and to remain masked while you are in the building. (Masks are not required outdoors.)

The University daily monitors the situation on campus and in our community and quickly adapts protocol as needed.  Please check this website before your scheduled event to confirm the most current masking policy. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work together to keep our campus and community healthy.





General travel protocols (students and employees) 

  • Messiah University expects students and employees to follow CDC guidelines when travelling, whether travel is for institutional or personal purposes. 

  • Regardless of vaccination status, students and employees who travel should wear masks when required (including but not limited to public transit), practice social distancing, avoid large crowds, and practice vigilant hand hygiene. 

  • Regardless of vaccination status, all students and employees should still be careful to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop before, during or following travel. 

  • Testing and quarantine protocols remain in place for unvaccinated employees traveling domestically and internationally

Institutional travel (students and employees) 

  • There are no restrictions on institutional travel (Messiah-sponsored/funded) for fully vaccinated students and employees at this time.  

  • The University reserves the right to limit the institutional travel of unvaccinated students and employees. For instance: 

  • Students are required to be vaccinated to participate in cross-cultural travel and other university trips as specified by Messiah's Integration and Response Team. 

  • Unvaccinated employees are permitted to travel for job-required travel* only but not optional, professional enhancement travel. 

  • For job-required travel, unvaccinated employees are required to mask at indoor events and when interacting indoors with others. 

  • Note that for unvaccinated employees, some personal cost related to isolation or quarantine while traveling may be incurred.    

*as determined by an employee’s supervisor/dean 

Classrooms will generally be set up with three-foot spacing between seats. Some spaces will be set at pre-COVID capacity in order to avoid rotations and to release the non-traditional classroom spaces for their regular use (I.e., Parmer Hall, Boyer Atrium, etc.). Faculty will assign student seating for the semester in order to facilitate any necessary contact tracing and may ask students to mask, particularly where there is a known vulnerable person/contact or in classroom spaces where three-foot distancing cannot be maintained.   


Messiah will return to its regular, robust schedule of campus cleaning, while providing extra cleaning supplies in commonly used spaces, such as offices, classrooms, restrooms and residence halls, so that students and employees may additionally wipe down shared surfaces, technology and equipment. 

Messiah University Dining Services has a solid reputation for outstanding food, great service and an award-winning food safety program. All of Messiah’s campus dining facilities will be returning to their pre-pandemic operations.  

All undergraduate students are subject to the most recent update of campus policies. While the 2021-22 Student Handbook does not reflect any ongoing expectations for student behavior related to COVID-19, current expectations have been communicated via mass email and other Messiah University communication channels such as the emergency blog and the Together@Messiah website. Students are required to abide by these expectations; failure to do so will result in referral to the student conduct process. These COVID expectations are subject to change (based on changing local, state and federal directives or a marked increase of illness on campus). Changes will be communicated via the channels above.

Questions can be directed to the Division of Student Success and Engagement, located in Eisenhower Campus Center 207, or by phone at 717.796.5234. 

Daily health screenings and accountability 

  • All employees, regardless of vaccination status, are required to report symptoms, positive COVID-19 test results and/or exposure to individuals positive for COVID-19 to via the Falcon Health Check-In.   

  • Unvaccinated employees should continue to monitor their temperature and complete the Falcon Health Check-in each day they are reporting to work on campus.   

  • Fully vaccinated employees who have submitted documentation of their vaccination status to the Engle Center do not need to complete the Falcon Health Check-In daily. These employees need only submit to the Falcon Health Check-In if they are exposed to an individual confirmed to have COVID-19, experiencing possible symptoms of COVID-19, and/or have tested positive for COVID-19.  

Reporting possible COVID-19 illness policy 

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the steps listed below: 

  •  Step 1: Do not come to work if you are home. If you are already at work, immediately begin masking and follow the steps below.  
  •  Step 2: Report that you are symptomatic via the Falcon Health Check-In. Follow the directions provided by the COVID triage nurse. 
  •  Step 3: Notify your supervisor that you are symptomatic and are not coming to work or that you need to go home. (The Engle Center will not be notifying supervisors.)   
  •  Step 4: Before returning to work, you must await clearance from the Engle Center. If you are experiencing symptoms, you will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test prior to being cleared to return.  

Remote work and sick time 

Remote work may be possible while an employee is isolating or quarantining, depending on that individual’s status of symptoms, health and/or individual job responsibilities, and with approval in advance from the employee's supervisor. Teaching faculty in quarantine or isolation must communicate with their department chair and dean about remote teaching or course coverage requests. When not able to work remotely, employees will use their regularly allocated sick time while isolating or quarantining.    

General Employee Public Health Practices 

Unfortunately, the threat of COVID-19 continues, and it will be essential that all Messiah University employees practice good health hygiene: 

  • Vaccination remains your best defense against COVID-19 and your best protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death. All employees and their family members (age 16 or older) can receive a vaccine free of charge at the Engle Center. (Email Linda Weaver to schedule an appointment.) 

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and warm water. 

  • Use hand-sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 

  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with either a tissue that is disposed of immediately or with your elbow. This needs to be followed by washing hands.  

  • Avoid meeting and congregating in smaller spaces.  Open windows as often as possible. 

  • All employees are encouraged to get a flu vaccine.  

  • Wipe down surfaces after meetings   



General public 

On May 17, 2021, the Messiah University campus reopened to visitors, following its temporary pandemic-related closure during the 2020-21 academic year. While on campus, all guests are expected to follow CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing, as well as any other campus-specific signage. 

Messiah University does reserve the right, as needed, to restrict access to campus and the Yellow Breeches.  As we manage events and crowds on campus, creek access will be limited or closed for access on the following dates found on the Department of Safety website.   

We appreciate your cooperation as we care for our campus community as we open Messiah’s property to the public once again.   

Undergraduate admissions visits 

The Undergraduate Admissions Office is currently hosting a limited number of on-campus visits each week for prospective students and their families. Learn more about undergraduate campus visits and events.  

Graduate enrollment and campus visits 

Prospective students who desire to visit campus should schedule an advance appointment with the graduate enrollment staff.    




How we'll communicate with you

Messiah University is utilizing a mix of the following communication tools to keep its campus stakeholders--including current undergraduate and graduate students, current parents, employees, prospective students/parents, and the appropriate government/health authorities--informed about its campus reopening strategies and related COVID-19 health and safety measures: 

  • Messiah’s institutional social media platforms 

  • Student and parent portals (current students and parents) 

  • Canvas Learning Management System (current students and employees) 

  • Campus health and safety signage (particularly in common areas like dining halls, gyms, classrooms, labs) 

Timely updates

In addition to communicating Messiah’s COVID response protocols via this website, the University will use the above methods to continue to update stakeholders about breaking developments, news and changes in a timely and transparent manner. 

Clery Act Compliance 

In compliance with The Clery Act, and guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding Clery’s intersection with COVID-19, Messiah University will issue a campus Emergency Notification (EN) to students and employees at the start of the academic year informing them about COVID-19, along with the necessary health and safety precautions, as well as where to obtain ongoing information about the number of on-campus COVID cases, and how to connect to the resources of regional health authorities and the CDC. The University will also provide a banner on that will provide this information to the broader campus community.