Public Health Guidance

We are paying very close attention to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the spread of reported variants, 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 September 16, 2021:


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

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


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


Masks are required indoors in public and shared spaces for ALL, including those who are fully vaccinated.

  • 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 masked at all times, both inside and outside.
  • Information about the types of masks that are acceptable on campus can be found here: CDC's Guide to Masks and Face Coverings as well as Universal Mask and Cloth Face Covering Precautions | PennEHRS.
  • Information about how to properly wear a facemask can be found here: How to Wear a Face Mask.
  • Please visit the Masking Violations page to report a violation to our masking requirements.
  • Masking requirements also apply to all visitors on campus. Please see below for masking requirements at University-sponsored events.

Personal Behaviors

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


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.

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.

Testing Positive, Isolation, and Quarantine

  I have a positive COVID-19 test result I have symptoms I have a COVID-19 exposure
I am a fully vaccinated person Isolate for 10 days • Stay home
• Mask around others
• Report symptoms to PennOpen Pass
• Test
• Mask around others for 14 days
• Report exposure to PennOpenn Pass
• Test Day 5 post-exposure OR at symptom onset
• Quarantine may apply depending on exposure type*
I am a partially vaccinated or unvaccinated person Isolate for 10 days • Stay home
• Mask around others
• Report symptoms to PennOpen Pass
• Test
• Mask around others for 14 days
• Report exposure to PennOpenn Pass
• Test Day 5 post-exposure OR at symptom onset
• Quarantine for 7-10 days

*There are scenarios in which the exposure will be so high risk that it will require at least a 7-day quarantine, even for fully vaccinated individuals. You should work with your contact tracer to assess whether this scenario applies to you. For example, students, staff, faculty, and post-docs who actively work in patient care clinical settings have a more nuanced quarantine protocol that is managed collectively by the University and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Students can find more information about isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing here.

Staff, faculty, and postdocs can find more information about isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing here.

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.

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.

picture of mask with text "we support mask-wearing... whether you're unvaccinated, protecting someone you love, or simply because you feel more comfortable."

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