Public Health Guidance

Public health guidance on campus continues to evolve. The following are updates as of April 18, 2022:

Testing

Screening testing is not currently required for those who are fully up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines (meaning fully vaccinated and boosted). 

Twice weekly screening testing will continue to be required for students, faculty, staff, and postdocs who are unvaccinated, not yet fully vaccinated, and those who are not yet boosted and/or have not uploaded their booster information into the appropriate system of record.

Our voluntary and symptomatic Penn Cares testing will remain available for the entire Penn community. 

Visit the Testing Program page for more information. 

Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

Based on updated guidance from the PA Department of Health for healthcare workers, and based on our own campus data, the University has updated its quarantine and isolation guidance for COVID-19 as of March 2022. 

Isolation
The University requires all students, faculty, staff, and postdocs, regardless of vaccination status, to isolate for ten days after testing positive for COVID-19, with a chance to return to campus life on day 8 with a negative rapid antigen test. All positive cases must be asymptomatic OR have improving symptoms and be fever free to be cleared to return to campus.

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.

Students who need to isolate in place due to capacity levels in on-campus isolation housing should visit the Student COVID-19 FAQ page.

Quarantine
Individuals who are unvaccinated or not up to date (i.e. not boosted) with a high-risk exposure to a confirmed COVID case (such as a housemate or intimate partner) must quarantine for 10 days, with a chance of returning to campus life on day 8 after a negative PCR test through the PennCares testing system. Those who are fully up-to-date on vaccines (i.e. boosted) do not need to quarantine, but are recommended to test immediately and then again 5 days after exposure. They should continue to monitor for symptoms.


Masking Requirement

Masks are strongly recommended in all indoor public and shared spaces, including classrooms. Masks are still required in healthcare spaces and on Penn Transit.

Masking is always an option for anyone who chooses to mask for any reason. Individual instructors may decide to require students to wear masks in their classroom and those who do should make that clear on their syllabus and to their students in the classroom.

The Penn community is encouraged to wear a mask (preferably a surgical mask, KN95/KF94, N95, or EHRS-recommended Aries mask as opposed to a single layer cloth mask), regardless of masking requirements, in the following situations:

  • if, for any reason, you want to
  • if you are not up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations
  • if you are personally at high risk
  • if you are in frequent close contact with someone who is high risk
  • if you have COVID symptoms 
  • if you test positive for COVID
  • if you go to an airport  
  • if you have been exposed to someone with COVID
  • if you live in an area with "substantial" or "high" spread of the virus (defined as 50 to 100, or 100 or more, respectively, new weekly cases per 100,000 people). 

Visit the University's COVID-19 FAQ section for specific information about masking.

Vaccination and Booster Shots

Students, faculty, staff, and postdocs are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines (including the COVID-19 booster shot), and must submit documentation of vaccination in the appropriate system of record. Those students, faculty, staff, and postdocs who are not fully vaccinated/booster must take part in screening testing twice each week.

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.

Visit the Vaccinations page for the latest requirements and access to information, instructions, and request forms for medical and religious exemptions.

According to the CDC, individuals are eligible for a booster five months after their second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine, or two months after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Those who received a vaccine listed on the World Health Organization’s emergency use listing are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot five months after completion of their vaccination series. For more information, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots website.

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 their 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.

Personal Behaviors

Everyone must continue to be mindful of good hygiene habits, like washing hands and keeping surfaces clean.

PennOpen Pass

The daily use of PennOpen Pass is required of all Penn community members on campus to report symptoms and/or exposures to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the community. Symptom checks must be completed before the start of each day, including on weekends, to reduce the risk that any COVID-19 case could lead to an outbreak.

This tool also helps connect users to official public health guidance and clinical support. Although it is not required for entry into most on-campus buildings, it is needed for entry into healthcare spaces, including Penn Medicine facilities, the Penn Cares testing sites, and Student Health and Counseling offices.

Everyone on campus should complete their daily symptom and exposure check. Be prepared to follow the guidance if PennOpen Pass provides a Red Pass. Be prepared to show a Green Pass as individual Schools and Centers may require its use for building entry.

Visitors must use PennOpen Campus.

Travel

Anyone coming from outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should be mindful of guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the City of Philadelphia. Traveling remains a risky activity for COVID-19. All travelers, even those who are fully vaccinated, should continue to wear a mask while traveling, distance when possible, and practice good hand hygiene. Travel guidance is fluid and changes frequently.

Campus Events and Gatherings

As the campus positivity rate continues to decrease, we are now lifting the restrictions on social gatherings that were implemented temporarily on January 12. Indoor gatherings are now fully permitted, assuming that they follow current Public Health Guidance, and can include food and drink. Students can now resume social event registration for events with alcohol and/or events held at third-party venues. 

Dining

There are no current policies around dining, but there are best practices:

  • Prioritize outdoor meals over indoor
  • Pre-packaged or boxed meals should be prioritized over buffet
  • Hand sanitizer should be made widely available

Special Events and Gatherings with Visitors

  • Gatherings with visitors (that are not course meetings in classrooms with members of the Penn Community) are strongly recommended to meet the following guidelines:
    • Held in larger spaces or outside if possible
    • Welcome the use of face coverings
    • Continue to have hand sanitizer available. 
       
  • Additional requirements are in place for any Penn-sponsored event that includes visitors:
  • In addition, we offer the following general guidance for Schools, Centers, Departments, and Student Groups that plan to conduct events:
    • In alignment with policies of the University and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, all event participants, spectators, and visitors must complete a day-of symptom check through PennOpen Campus and follow all other University public health guidance. Find more information on the Visitors page.
    • Inform attendees of the current University COVID-19 safety requirements in advance and ensure they abide by them.
    • Ensure easy access to hand hygiene facilities and supplies.
    • Remind people that requirements may change on the day of the event.
    • Fire safety or occupancy limits should be observed.
    • Event staff and working University personnel must follow all University COVID-19 protocols.

Special Accommodations


Public health guidance at the University may differ from what has been advised at the state and federal level. Guidance may change depending on COVID-19 trends and positivity rates on campus and within the University's surrounding communities. Following the University’s public health guidance is supported by the Code of Student Conduct.