Alert Levels

The University alert level is currently at level 2: Heightened Awareness.

Alert level 1: Baseline Mitigation Strategies

This phase of Penn’s campus operations is marked by a limited number of cases on campus with controlled transmission.

  • Members of the University community are expected to follow universal public health guidance: practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands frequently.
  • Members of the University community complete daily symptom checks via PennOpen Pass.
  • Members of the University community participate in screening testing throughout the semester:
    • Undergraduate students and all those residing in campus housing will be tested twice weekly
    • Faculty, staff, graduate students and post-docs who meet testing criteria will be tested weekly.
  • Classes are offered primarily online with few exceptions.
  • Students can gather in groups of fewer than 10 people and must adhere to physical distancing and wear masks.
  • No visitors are allowed in on-campus residences.

Alert level 2: Heightened Awareness

Penn will move to a state of Heightened Awareness if conditions suggest increased exposure or cases.

  • Members of the University community continue to follow universal public health guidance: practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands frequently.
  • Enhanced communications will stress the importance of being vigilant about following public health safety protocols.
  • There may be temporary restrictions placed on gatherings (even under 10).
  • Access to venues such as libraries and gyms may be restricted or denied.

Potential triggers:

  • Rising cases in Philadelphia/surrounding area.
  • An increase in the 7-day rolling average of positive cases overall (screening plus symptomatic testing).
  • An increase in the 7-day rolling average of positive cases among screening tests.
  • An increase in the average number of contacts needing to quarantine.

Alert level 3: Safer at Home

Penn will temporarily restrict operations campus-wide in an effort to limit community spread.

  • Students will quarantine in their place of residence.
  • All classes will be remote.
  • Undergraduate students will continue to be tested twice weekly.
  • Faculty, staff, graduate students, and post-docs who come to campus and meet criteria will continue to be tested weekly.
  • Faculty, staff, graduate students, and post-docs will work from home whenever possible and upin receiving approval from their supervisor.
  • Only essential staff, as defined by the University, will be allowed to travel to campus.
  • No public gatherings.

Potential triggers:

  • Evidence of significant community spread.
  • A significant increase in the 7-day rolling average of positive cases overall (screening plus symptomatic testing).
  • An increase in the 7-day rolling average of positive cases among screening tests.
  • A significant increase in the presentation of other illness (flu, strep, mono, and mumps for example).
  • Restrictions coming from the Commonwealth or from the Philadelphia Department of Health.

Alert level 4: Campus Closure

As directed by local or regional public health agencies, Penn may need to close its campus or move to fully remote classes and activities.

  • As directed by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health or the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Penn may be asked to suspend most on-campus activities.
  • Penn would also be asked to instruct students to leave campus if it was felt to be in the best interest of the health and safety of the University community.
  • Any students diagnosed as COVID-19 positive would need to remain on campus unless arrangements are made for family to pick them up.

Potential triggers:

  • Severe illness or hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
  • Limited local hospital ICU capacity.
  • Significant increase in cases in Philadelphia County.
  • Mandate foming from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
  • Severely limited staffing (due to COVID or other reasons) results in decreased ability to deliver essential services.

How the Alert Levels Are Determined

In making its determination, the COVID Response Team public health group reviews the following data on a daily basis, assessing the following factors as a group rather than individually:

  • Philadelphia weekly case counts.
  • Asymptomatic test positivity (of faculty, staff, and students in the testing program).
  • Symptomatic test positivity (of faculty, staff, and students in the testing program).
  • Isolation and quarantine utilization and capacity for students.
  • Change in 7 day rolling average case counts.
  • Faculty/staff absenteeism.