Message to Penn Faculty and Staff Regarding University Operations
April 29, 2020
Since March 16, 2020, Penn has been operating in an unprecedented environment. We commend the dedication, ingenuity, and humanity demonstrated by members of Penn’s community. Thank you for all of your hard work and your patience as together we navigate this extraordinary time.
As you know, Governor Wolf has announced a Process to Reopen Pennsylvania in phases. At present, southeastern Pennsylvania will remain in the Red Phase, with only essential life-sustaining work performed onsite. Decisions regarding when regions can be transitioned to the Yellow Phase will be made by the Commonwealth based on a variety of factors. However, even in the Yellow Phase, significant restrictions will still apply, including continuing remote work where feasible, compliance with safety requirements such as social distancing, and limiting gatherings to no more than 25 people. Governor Wolf has indicated that additional guidance regarding the Yellow Phase will be forthcoming. You can read more about the Process to Reopen Pennsylvania here.
Consistent with these guidelines, the University’s onsite operations remain suspended, except for those that are life-sustaining, while remote operations continue. This will remain the case until the Commonwealth announces that Philadelphia, and surrounding counties for operations outside of Philadelphia, can transition to the Yellow Phase. The exceptions are very limited at this time – for example, construction work (which can resume on May 1), elective surgeries and medical procedures (please refer to the University Notification from March 20, 2020 for additional information about life-sustaining activities at the University).
While we are eager to move to the next phase, this will need to be done thoughtfully with safety being the top priority, with guidance from our medical experts and in accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Returning to work may look different for different parts of the University, depending on the nature of the work. We have established a Recovery Planning Group that is examining the elements that would need to be in place to allow a safe return to wider on-campus operations. The Recovery Planning Group will work closely with our Schools and centers, as well as with public health experts, and in accordance with local, state and federal guidelines. Working collaboratively, we will provide guidance on the resumption of events and programs and on return to work guidelines for those who are not performing life-sustaining work when the University is permitted to move to the Yellow Phase.
In the meantime, we ask that all employees performing life-sustaining work on campus remember to practice social distancing, frequently wash hands, wear masks while on campus, and refrain from coming to work if suffering any symptoms associated with COVID-19, including fever, shortness of breath, and/or cough. Additional information about COVID-19 symptoms and guidance on proper handling of a mask can be found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
We wish to reiterate our most sincere gratitude as we all manage through this very challenging time. Your commitment to Penn and the broader community is inspirational, and for that, we are truly grateful.
Amy Gutmann, President
Wendell E. Pritchett, Provost
Craig R. Carnaroli, Executive Vice President