A Message to the Penn Community About Campus Readiness for the Fall Semester
August 5, 2021
This year, more than any before, we look forward to the start of classes and our joyful pre-semester programs and events. We want to update everyone, in light of the ongoing pandemic, about our progress and the measures we are taking to keep our community safe and healthy.
We thank all of you who have provided your vaccination information, which is essential to resuming our campus life together. We expect our community vaccination rates to increase and reach 90% by September. To date, over 84% of our faculty and staff report being fully vaccinated. Even in advance of the start of classes, nearly 80% of our students enrolled in on-campus programs already report being fully vaccinated. We urge everyone to submit your vaccination records if you have not done so already: it is a quick and simple process for existing students, new students, and faculty/staff/postdocs.
Consistent with the June 1 message to the community, the University requires every member of our community to provide proof of vaccination since vaccines remain our safest and most effective defense against COVID-19 and its variants. We also will continue to require regular screening tests for all members of the community who do not provide evidence of vaccination, tests for those who are symptomatic, and gateway testing (and isolating if necessary) for all students as they return to campus this month.
Our highest priorities are the safety and readiness of the Penn community, and we will all need to remain patient and flexible this semester as we respond collectively to the changing public health situation. The University’s Coronavirus Response Team and Recovery Planning Group carefully assess the trajectory of the virus and vaccines, working closely with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. In accordance with the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for areas with high transmission rates, we are now requiring, effective immediately, that all members of the Penn community and visitors wear masks while indoors in public or shared spaces. Exceptions to the masking requirement include single occupancy offices and shared spaces where 6ft distancing can be maintained, with roommates in our college house suites/rooms, and by permission in instructional settings for pedagogical reasons. In addition, we are instituting a required twice-a-week testing program for members of our community who are not vaccinated or choose not to report their vaccination information. We will continue to adjust our plans as public health guidance unfolds.
We are continuing the highly effective mitigation strategies that we put in place over the last year, including: identifying and isolating COVID-19 cases; using PennOpenPass to assess symptoms of and exposure to COVID-19; enhancing cleaning and disinfecting on campus; monitoring buildings to meet national American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards for indoor air quality; and optimizing building ventilation by increasing air flow, maintenance, and filtration systems. In addition, we are exploring other public health measures such as wastewater testing and a second COVID-19 screening program for all students at the end of September. All members of the Penn community, regardless of your vaccination status, have access to COVID-19 testing on campus, which can help bring some added peace of mind to those with added concerns such as for vulnerable members of your household.
We have learned a lot over the past sixteen months, and we are enormously grateful to every member of the Penn community for your hard work and steadfast support. We will keep you updated as the situation evolves, and we are excited to see you on campus in the weeks ahead!
Amy Gutmann, President
Beth A. Winkelstein, Interim Provost
Craig Carnaroli, Senior Executive Vice President
J. Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President, Penn Medicine and Dean, Perelman School of Medicine