Public Health Guidance

We are paying very close attention to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the spread of reported variants, including Omicron, and will continue to update our guidance based on the recommendations of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Public health guidance on campus continues to evolve. The following are updates as of January 10, 2022:


Visit the Testing Program page for the latest pre-arrival, gateway, and screening testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, and postdocs.

Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

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. 

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.

You are: Unvaccinated Vaccinated but not boosted Boosted, not eligible for a booster yet, or recently COVID + Exceptions
  • Isolate for 10 days
  • Isolate for 5 days
  • Mask for 5 additional full days when around others
  • Isolate for 5 days
  • Mask for 5 additional full days when around others
  • Students for whom masking the full 5 days post-isolation is not possible (e.g. student athletes who compete mask-less): 10 days of 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.
Exposed to a COVID + household member or intimate partner
  • Test immediately
  • Quarantine for 7 days
  • Test again Day 5 post exposure or at symptom onset
  • Test immediately
  • No quarantine
  • Test again Day 5 post exposure or at symptom onset
  • No test required unless symptoms present

Quarantine Chart. (DOC)

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 be made 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. 

Vaccination 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.

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

Booster Shots

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 contacted if they need to re-apply for an exemption. 

All students should upload their booster 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.

According to the CDC, individuals are eligible for a booster five months after their second dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, six months after their second dose of a 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 six 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.

Quarantine after 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

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.


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 outside whenever possible
    • Require face covering
    • Discourage food unless it can be delivered in a responsible manner (i.e., grab and go, individual plating/portioning/boxed meals, no self-serve buffets)
    • Observe social distancing whenever possible
  • Additional requirements are in place for any Penn-sponsored event that includes visitors:
    • Schools/Centers/Departments must require attendees to attest to having been vaccinated, register their contact information in the case that follow-up from contact tracers is needed, and be present to supervise the event.
    • PennOpen Campus is used for visitor screening.
    • Visitors may learn how PennOpen Campus works on the Participants in Penn Programs page.
  • In addition, we offer the following general guidance for Schools/Centers/Departments/Student Groups that plan to conduct events:
  • General Guidance:
    • In alignment with policies of the University and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, all event participants, spectators, and visitors must attest to being fully vaccinated, complete a day-of symptom check through PennOpen Campus, and wear a mask, including at outdoor stadiums, in order to gain entrance to an event. Find more information on the Visitors web page.
    • Inform attendees of the current University COVID-19 safety requirements in advance and ensure they abide by them.
    • All attendees must wear a face covering. Exceptions include when actively eating and drinking in approved or pre-determined areas.
    • Ensure easy access to hand hygiene facilities and supplies.
    • Physical distancing should be practiced if possible.
    • Fire safety or occupancy limits should be observed.
    • Event staff and working University personnel must follow all University COVID-19 protocols.
  • Eating and Drinking Requirements:
    • Inform attendees in advance that the event includes food and beverages, and remind them of physical distancing requirements during eating and drinking
    • Attendees may only remove face coverings when actively eating and drinking.
    • Consider providing physically distanced seating options for attendees who choose to maintain physical distance while unmasked for eating and drinking.
    • Maximum occupancy is limited to the School/Center/Department/Group’s ability to successfully adhere to 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.