A Message to Graduate and Professional Students

February 3, 2021

We are writing, now that the Quiet Period has ended, to thank you for a safe and successful start of the semester and to reaffirm our shared commitments for the coming weeks and months.
The Student Campus Compact remains in effect, as does public health guidance from Penn Cares and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which requires masking, distancing, and handwashing. Students on and off campus must participate in screening testing and enroll in PennOpen Pass, our daily symptom management tool.  
For the health and safety of our campus and West Philadelphia communities, you must continue to maintain your household and/or study pods. You may not visit friends in other residences, host parties, or attend large gatherings. All reports of such violations will be investigated by the Campus Compact Review Panel, with the potential for individual and group sanctions. The core concept of the post-Quiet Period phase is “more places, not more faces.”
Continued Vigilance: Virtual and Outdoors
All personal, social, student government, and club activity taking place virtually must remain virtual.  
Seeing friends outdoors in small, masked, physically distanced groups, and eating takeaway meals, may continue, and we are pleased to be opening more opportunities to get food across campus in a careful and safe way.  
We are beginning a process for student groups to request opportunities to host in-person events and meetings, indoors or outdoors. Only vetted, approved events will be allowed to take place in designated meeting rooms. The bar for approval will be set intentionally high, given the many steps necessary to ensure participants’ health and safety. To submit a request for an in-person activity (indoors or outdoors), please visit the Graduate Student Center website.
Phased Indoor Openings on Campus

Athletics & Recreation

  • A pilot program to begin a gradual re-opening of the Pottruck Health & Fitness Center will allow small groups of students to use the facility on weekdays from 3 pm to 7 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Students will be allowed to reserve access for one hour on Floors 1 and 2. Eligibility in this pilot program will be determined in consultation with Campus Health, based on students’ demonstrated adherence to the Campus Compact. Eligible students will be invited to participate in the pilot via email. If successful, this pilot will lead to a phased reservation system for all students at Pottruck in the coming weeks.  
  • Outdoor recreation hours will resume at the Franklin Field track. You can make reservations at the Campus Recreation website.
  • The Penn Park Farm will be open for recreational activities and scheduled, COVID-safe events. Students may also request time slots to host small, physically distanced gatherings.  
  • Sansom Place East (SPE) will hold several virtual events. SPE residents who are interested in attending a program should contact their GA for more information.  

Graduate Study Space

  • The Office of the Deputy Provost and the Graduate Student Center will be providing temporary study/relaxation space for graduate and professional students in the Ben Franklin Room on the 2nd floor of Houston Hall. This space will be available for graduate and professional students Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm, by reservation (1-5 days in advance) at the Graduate Student Center website.

Penn Libraries

  • Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center has opened limited seating for individual studyMonday-Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm and Fridays noon to 5 pm. All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to reserve seats (at least 12 hours in advance). You must comply with Penn's COVID-19 testing protocols, showing your reservation and PennOpen Green Pass for entry. Learn more and make reservations at the Penn Libraries website.

Penn Dining

  • Only students with a Green PennOpen Pass will be allowed to enter Dining facilities. Students with a Red PennOpen Pass can follow instructions on the Penn Dining site.
  • Sharing food remains a high-risk activity, necessitating a slow transition. Penn Dining has begun piloting 25% seating capacity at Starbucks in 1920 Commons, with reservations in the Penn Eats app.
  • Additional indoor dining options will be determined and communicated in the coming weeks.

Perelman Quadrangle will support essential functions:  

  • Campus testing sites in Houston Hall and Irvine Auditorium  
  • Grab-and-go service in Houston Market and retail operations at Insomnia Cookies and University Copy Center
  • Penn Commons outdoor seating
  • Limited indoor meetings and activities (scheduled by administrative units and/or student groups), where approved through the review process described above.   

Rest & Recharge

As a reminder, PhD and research master’s degree students will have three days off from classes and assignments in the coming weeks:

  • Friday, February 12
  • Tuesday, March 30
  • Monday, April 12

Professional students should check with your programs regarding plans for these days. If the days are available to you, we urge you to use them to rest and recharge – relax, unplug, and take part in the virtual events of these three Engagement Days.  
Your decisions impact the lives and health of your classmates and our West Philadelphia neighbors. You are implored not to travel, and Penn will not provide COVID-19 testing documentation for travel this semester.  
Thank you for your continued dedication to adhering to the public health guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the University. We are enormously grateful for your resilience and your commitment to keeping our community safe.


Beth A. Winkelstein, Deputy Provost
Benoit Dubé, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer
Mamta Motwani Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life


Last Updated 02/03/2021 - 11:03