Guidance for the Start of the 2022 Spring Semester

Spring Semester COVID-19 Guidance

College House Move-In

Undergraduate classes will begin as scheduled on January 12 in virtual format online (except for clinical courses), and then transition to in-person classes on January 24.

Undergraduate student move-in to campus housing is delayed by one week, to begin January 15.

For information about college housing move-in, visit the Penn Housing Move-In page.

Pre-Arrival Testing

All students are required to complete pre-arrival testing 48 hours before returning to campus. Faculty, staff, and postdocs are also strongly encouraged to complete a test before returning to campus. A PCR test is preferred, but rapid tests are also acceptable. Those who receive a positive PCR test result (or who have had a positive test result over the Winter Break) must email their result to covidtesting@upenn.edu and report their positive result through PennOpen Pass. Those who receive a positive rapid test result must report their result through PennOpen Pass.

Anyone with a positive pre-arrival test should complete their isolation at home before arriving to campus. Negative test results do not need to be submitted to the University. Those who do not have access to a pre-arrival test should immediately test upon arrival to campus and quarantine until they receive a negative test result. 

Gateway Testing

As an additional safety measure, all students, faculty, staff, and postdocs who will be on campus and/or enrolled during the spring semester are required to complete a gateway test after returning to campus and no later than January 31, regardless of vaccination status or result of pre-arrival testing. Undergraduate students should test by January 24, prior to returning to the classrooms and lecture halls.

Those arriving to campus after the end of January should test on the day they arrive to campus. This test must be completed through our Penn Cares testing system. Anyone with a positive result from a gateway test will be required to isolate and cooperate with our contact tracing efforts.

All University community members must schedule their Penn Cares gateway test at covidscheduling.upenn.edu/. Visit the Penn Cares Testing Program page for more information.

Reporting Positive Tests from Winter Break

1. Report to PennOpen Pass

  • Answer "yes" to the "have you tested positive in the past 5 days" question, even if it's been more than 5 days.

2. If your positive result is an antigen or PCR (which includes your name and date of birth and is generally from an outside laboratory or pharmacy), submit the test results to covidtesting@upenn.edu and include:

  • Name 
  • Penn ID, 
  • Affiliation (student, faculty, staff, etc.) 
  • Number where they can be reached if there are questions. 
  • Proof of the result (copy) 

If you have tested positive with a home test, you must undergo Gateway testing upon arrival to campus. If you test positive on your Gateway test, your period of isolation will be adjusted based on the information from your home test result. If you test negative on your Gateway test, you will be required to continue screening testing throughout the semester. 

Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

Isolation

Per the new guidance from the CDC, as of December 31, 2021, the University requires all fully vaccinated students, faculty, staff, and postdocs to isolate for five days after a positive COVID-19 test and mask around others for an additional 5 days after isolation. This revised CDC guidance does include stricter isolation requirements for certain groups of people, notably those living in congregate settings. 

The following groups present an exception to the 5-day isolation guidance, and must isolate for 10 or 21 days: 

  • Unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, and postdocs: 10 days isolation
  • Immunocompromised students, faculty, staff, and postdocs: 21 days isolation
  • Students for whom masking the full 5 days post-isolation is not possible (e.g. student athletes who compete mask-less): 10 days isolation
  • Most students who live in college houses or in Greek housing will have a modified 5-day isolation period that allows them to reintegrate campus activities during the day, wearing a mask around others, on day 6, but then requires them to return to their isolation space overnight through day 10.

Individual responsibility is key and all members of the community will be expected to dutifully wear masks around others when required. Return from isolation dates are subject to change depending on the specific circumstances. Should further clarification and guidance be needed, a contact tracer will follow-up on a case-by-case basis.

All positive cases must be asymptomatic OR have improving symptoms and be fever free to be cleared to return to campus.

Given the higher number of students testing positive during this phase of the pandemic, we have been identifying potential additional isolation spaces for students in on-campus housing. However, if we reach capacity in our designated isolation spaces and/or more students test positive before isolation spaces become available, COVID-positive students may be required to isolate in place. We will continue to consult public health experts and keep the community updated if plans change. 

Quarantine

Per the new guidance from the CDC, as of December 31, 2021, those who have been exposed to COVID-19 within a household or through an intimate partner do not need to quarantine if fully vaccinated, but should monitor for symptoms and test at symptom onset. Those exposed to COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated should quarantine for 7 days, test immediately, and monitor for symptoms.

Double-Masking Requirement

Masking remains a key mitigation strategy in our efforts to minimize transmission during this virulent phase of the virus. All members of the Penn community in campus buildings will be required to double mask (layering a cloth mask on top of a disposable mask) or to wear a KN95/KF94 or N95 mask.

Surgical masks will continue to be available for the Penn community at various building entrances across campus. 

  • Exceptions to the masking requirement include single occupancy offices and shared spaces where 6ft distancing can be maintained, and with roommates in our college house suites/rooms. Masking is required in hallways, foyers, stairwells, elevators, and all other public spaces. 
  • These exceptions do NOT apply to classrooms and they do NOT apply to unvaccinated individuals. All unvaccinated individuals must remain double-masked at all times, both inside and outside. 
  • Information about masking can be here: EHRS Mask Guidance.
  • Information about how to properly wear a facemask can be found here: How to Wear a Face Mask
  • Visit the Masking Violations page to report a violation to our masking requirements. 

Vaccines and Booster Shots

Students, faculty, staff, and postdocs are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including the COVID-19 booster, and must submit documentation of vaccination in the appropriate system of record.

Online students who do not plan to come to campus are not required to report their vaccine status and there will be no consequence for not reporting it.

All students, faculty, and staff are required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot by January 31. Anyone who is not yet eligible for the booster by January 31 must receive the shot within 30 days of becoming eligible. Individuals who were previously approved for a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement will be exempt from this new requirement. For information about eligibility, visit vaccines.gov.

All students should upload their vaccine documentation to their Student Health Portal. Faculty, staff, and postdocs should upload their information into Workday. Step-by-step instructions for uploading vaccine information into Workday can be found here: Self Service: Enter Vaccination Information.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated can, and should, receive a booster dose. People with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should defer vaccination until symptoms have improved and the 10-day isolation period is complete. Those who experienced severe COVID-19 symptoms should follow-up with their primary care physician for specific guidance for their booster.

PennOpen Pass

If you are COVID-19 positive or have had an exposure, the easiest way to find out when your isolation and/or quarantine is over, and to get your green pass back, is to utilize PennOpen Pass each day. This is a useful public health tool that provides clinical guidance and can help mitigate further spread of COVID-19 on campus. Remember to complete your PennOpen Pass daily, regardless of whether you have symptoms. Additionally, a green PennOpen Pass is required for entry into some campus buildings. 

Screening Testing Program for Spring Semester

The screening testing approach for the Spring semester can be found on the Penn Cares Testing Program page.

Campus Events and Gatherings

In response to elevated COVID-19 case counts primarily linked to indoor social gatherings, all indoor social events and gatherings are strongly discouraged until further notice. This includes University-sponsored events and private gatherings hosted by students/student groups. The resumption of registered events for students will be reassessed once our Gateway testing tallies are completed.  We invite members of the community to congregate outdoors whenever possible.  We must continue to remain vigilant and follow public health guidance to minimize any risk of transmission. Visit the University Life page for more information about Events and Gatherings.

Pending review of Gateway testing data, there will be an update of this policy by February 1, 2022.