Students - Spring 2020-2021 COVID-19 Testing Approach

Penn’s on-campus COVID-19 testing program for the 2021 spring semester was developed in partnership with Penn Medicine. Three distinct protocols are being used: gateway, screening, and symptomatic/close contact. Screening is accomplished through saliva-based tests. In contrast to familiar nasal swabs, used for symptomatic and close contact testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively. Samples are analyzed on or near campus, allowing for more rapid results.

Who Must Be Tested

All University students participating in any on-campus activities are required to participate in the on-campus COVID-19 testing program. Expectations surrounding testing, collaboration with contact tracing efforts, compliance with isolation or quarantine recommendations, and adherence to public health guidance are further explained in the Student Campus Compact.

Eligibility and Required Testing

As they arrive on campus for the spring semester, students must receive COVID-19 gateway testing. Instructions will be provided before arriving on campus.

Anyone coming from outside the United States or from states specified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the City of Philadelphia must arrive 14 days prior to the start of classes to complete the 14-day precautionary travel quarantine. They will receive gateway testing immediately upon arriving on campus. Results of the gateway test do not change the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. One cannot test out of quarantine.

Ongoing screening will also be conducted throughout the semester. Undergraduates living on or off campus in Philadelphia are required to undergo twice-weekly screening tests on preassigned days. All graduate students who come to campus are required to receive screening tests once per week. Clinical students whose clinical rotations take them away from campus will be exempt from this requirement; they will be encouraged to participate in screening testing should they be in the Philadelphia area and coming onto campus.

Symptomatic and Close Contact
Before coming to campus, students, faculty, and staff are required to perform daily symptom checks and exposure reporting on PennOpen Pass. Anyone who receives a Red Pass will be instructed regarding testing, self-isolation, and other steps to follow. Everyone must show their Green Pass to enter University buildings or board Penn Transit.

The test is free.

Screening Testing Details

Before Getting a Screening Test

Participants must refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, gum chewing, vaping, and tobacco use for at least 30 minutes before submitting their saliva sample at the test location.

Participants should plan to be “hands-free” during the testing process. All coffee, water bottles, etc. must be discarded or put away prior to testing. Storage of personal possessions will not be available. At testing sites, participants will enter through one location and exit at another location. 

Participants should make sure to bring their current PennCard. They should perform their daily symptom check on PennOpen Pass before leaving their residence, and only leave it if they have a Green Pass. They will need to show their Green Pass at the testing site.

While lining up outside the testing location, everyone should wear a face covering and practice physical distancing.