A Message to Graduate and Undergraduate Students: Returning to Campus for the Fall Semester
June 24, 2021
I hope you are enjoying a restful summer and taking time to disconnect, reflect, and rejuvenate. I’ve been incredibly impressed with your agility and adaptability to changes on campus over the past year and a half in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and you should be equally proud of your resilience. As restrictions continue to be lifted throughout the Philadelphia area, I am thrilled that we are joining together to embark on a fully in-person learning experience at Penn this fall.
It’s important that we continue to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves, our fellow Quakers, and our surrounding Philadelphia neighbors. Here is a snapshot of what public health guidance will look like when we are reunited in the fall:
The single most important measure each of us can take to protect ourselves along with those on campus and in our surrounding communities is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. In a previous communication, the University announced its requirement that all students living on and off campus be fully vaccinated for the fall semester (fully vaccinated means that it has been two weeks since the final dose of your vaccine). Students should upload their required vaccine records to their Student Health Service portal as soon as possible. You are not expected to upload your vaccination status in Workday as was mentioned in yesterday’s faculty and staff communication. If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement, please visit our FAQ page for the most up-to-date information.
Beginning July 1, fully vaccinated students who are on campus will be exempt from ongoing screening testing. Testing will remain available to students throughout the summer should they wish to continue to be tested regardless of their vaccination status. However, if students are not fully vaccinated, they must participate in Penn Cares weekly screening testing until they are fully vaccinated. This weekly testing requirement will apply to students with approved medical or religious vaccine exemptions and will be in effect throughout the fall semester.
Gateway Testing on Arrival
All students will be required to be tested once for COVID-19 upon arrival to campus, regardless of vaccination status. For most students, this requirement will be satisfied between August 9th and September 3rd. As a reminder, students who are not fully vaccinated will be required to take part in weekly Penn Cares screening testing until they become fully vaccinated. Be sure to check the website for more information regarding Gateway Testing as it becomes available.
In accordance with the latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University will no longer require students to quarantine upon arrival to campus. This updated and less restrictive policy is different than what was communicated to students on April 22nd. The combination of our vaccination requirement and gateway testing will provide similar protection to our community.
Per the updated guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, those who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors. Masking is no longer required for those who are fully vaccinated, unless you are:
- A student in quarantine or isolation living with other people, also known as congregate settings. You are required to wear a mask indoors in your residence.
- Working with children under the age of 12, such as a school, camp, or childcare setting.
- Inside campus healthcare settings, including the Student Health Service, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Penn Cares testing sites and all Penn Medicine facilities.
- Using public transportation, including Penn Transit.
The University supports mask-wearing—whether you’re unvaccinated, protecting someone you love, or simply because you feel more comfortable.
Other Public Health Guidance
- Restrictions on indoor eating have been lifted by the City. However, eating remains one of the higher risk activities for disease transmission, especially indoors. For those who are unvaccinated, continuing to practice social distancing when eating is paramount. Outdoor eating and pre-packaged meals remain a preferable and a safer option but eating indoors is no longer prohibited.
- Everyone must continue to be mindful of good hygiene habits, like washing hands and keeping surfaces clean. Hand sanitizer should be made available at all events with food.
- While no longer required for building entry, PennOpen Pass should still be used to report symptoms and exposures, and will still be required at campus healthcare facilities, including the Student Health Service, the Penn Cares testing site and all Penn Medicine facilities.
- If you don’t feel well, stay home.
It is worth remembering that this guidance is subject to change depending on COVID-19 trends and positivity rates on campus and within the University's surrounding communities. This highlights our collective responsibility to look out for one another.
In the meantime, I hope you continue to enjoy a happy, healthy, and safe summer. We look forward to seeing you on campus in the fall – some of you for the very first time! Please regularly check coronavirus.upenn.edu and follow @COVIDPenn and @WellnessatPenn for regular updates and answers to many of your questions.
In good health,
Benoit Dubé, MD Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer