2020-2021 Guidelines


To protect the health and safety of the Weitzman community while carrying out the educational, research, and community engagement aspects of our mission, the Weitzman School has adopted a hybrid approach for the Fall 2020 semester. The vast majority of classes and seminars will be taught online, and a limited number of studios and select courses will be conducted on campus. In addition, all courses and studios can be taught or attended remotely.

The success of this approach, and particularly all in-person activities, depends on our collective adherence to a series of rigorous health and safety measures that are being implemented at all Weitzman facilities (see Building Operations) and a commitment to upholding public health guidelines to support our community. Underpinning our approach are three new initiatives: the Weitzman Campus Compact, PennOpen Pass, and the Public Health Promotion Team. Each is described in detail below.

Faculty and staff have also spent the summer investing in technology, training, and other resources to strengthen the online experience for students. We feel confident that our high standards of education will not be compromised. Regular communication, clear expectations, engaged participation, creativity, and flexibility are also critical to the success of the remote learning components of the hybrid model.

It is important to understand that operations at Weitzman will continue to be guided by public health directives. As conditions warrant, it may be necessary to modify our plan as the semester goes on. Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility.

Academic Calendar & Departmental Schedules

Classes begin on Tuesday, September 1. There will not be a Fall Break. To minimize occupancy in studio spaces and maximize student access to studios and Weitzman resources, the various departments and programs at Weitzman will offer in-person studios 1-2 per week on alternating days and on staggered schedules. Courses will also be offered in the summer of 2021. Additionally, all classes will move online beginning Monday, November 23. Please contact your department for details if you have not already received information about your course of study for Academic Year 2020-2021. Visit the Weitzman Academic Calendar for details.

The Weitzman Campus Compact: A Shared Responsiblity

The Weitzman School remains committed to protecting the health and safety of students, faculty and staff, while carrying out the educational, research, and community engagement aspects of our mission. To this end, all courses and studios can be taught or attended remotely. In support of the enhanced health and safety measures implemented in Weitzman facilities, all members of the Weitzman Community who come to campus are expected to observe the following protocols.

  1. Complete PennOpen Pass wellness checks and monitor for symptoms before entering any Weitzman or campus building. For more information, visit the Penn Medicine website.
  2. Stay home if you are experiencing COVID19 symptoms or are concerned for your health or safety.
  3. Participate in contact tracing following confirmation of a positive COVID test result.
  4. Wear a facial covering at all times when in public or common areas, including in classrooms and studios.
  5. Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and avoid crowds of over 25 people.
  6. Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds before and after interactions with others.
  7. Students should not spend more than 4 hours per day in congregate settings within Weitzman buildings (including classrooms, offices, and studios).
  8. Adhere to Weitzman building hours:  8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Monday through Friday. These hours and days are subject to change; please check the Weitzman website for updates. Also, eating is no longer allowed in Weitzman buildings.
  9. Refrain from organizing, hosting or attending in-person events, parties, club meetings, or other social gatherings on campus.
  10. Limit non-essential travel avoid travel to COVID-19 hotspots according to recommendations issued by Penn HR, Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS) and the Philadelphia Department of Health. For more information, visit the EHRS website.

Weitzman students are also expected to adhere to the guidelines set forth in the Penn Student Campus Compact 2020-2021.

To encourage adherence to these guidelines, Weitzman has brought together a group of Weitzman faculty, staff, and students to serve on the Public Health Promotion Team (PHPT). The members of the PHPT will be announced via email and posted to the Weitzman website. You are free to raise concerns about your own safety or the safety of those around you, without recrimination or consequence, to any member of the PHPT or to one of the Weitzman Public Health Techs who will be assisting with this effort and identified by Weitzman School of Design clothing. Alternatively, you may also contact PHPT Co-Chair Karl Wellman, Senior Director for Operations and Planning, Design and Construction, at kwellman@design.upenn.edu.

We are stronger when we all do our part to keep our campus and our community healthy.

Essential Resources
Student Health and Counseling

Environmental Health and Radiation Safety
215.898.4453 (24/7)

PennOpen Pass Call Center

Penn HR Guide to Fall 2020

Penn Fall 2020 Guidelines

PennOpen Pass

In July of 2020, the University launched PennOpen Pass, a daily symptom checker to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the Penn community. Daily tracking is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community as it will enable clinical staff and contact tracers to act quickly if COVID-19 is detected and connect individuals to care.

 Faculty, staff, and students seeking to enter any Penn building will perform daily symptom checks using PennOpen Pass before the start of each day. If you have no symptoms and have not been in recent contact with someone who may have COVID-19, you get a Day Pass to enter Penn buildings. Otherwise, the tool will direct you to next steps.

Starting Monday, August 24, use of PennOpen Pass will be required for Weitzman faculty, staff and students for entry into campus buildings. Penn is committed to protecting your privacy; read the Penn Open Pass Privacy Statement for more information. For answers to frequently asked questions about PennOpen Pass, or to provide feedback, please visit the PennOpen Pass website.  You can also direct questions to the PennOpen Pass Call Center: 215.573.6335.

COVID-19 Testing

Our Approach to Testing During the Fall Semester

As we transition from gateway testing, we have identified additional strategies and planned for the following priorities:     

1.  Symptomatic Testing

Penn, along with our partners in Penn Medicine, established an ongoing comprehensive program for tracking COVID-19 symptoms among students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who participate in PennOpen Pass. This rapid identification tool, in tandem with the gateway testing, is an effective strategy for minimizing person to person spread of disease.  Completing daily symptom checks in PennOpen Pass is critical to sustaining the health of our community.

2. Close Contact Testing

PennOpen Pass also allows for the rapid identification of those individuals with potential exposure to the virus and their referral to testing at Houston Hall, based on the timing of the exposure and assessment of the risk of infection.

3. Mitigating the Risk of Transmission Through Ongoing Testing

We know that up to 15%-25% of people with COVID-19 may not display symptoms but are still capable of transmitting the virus. Having reviewed data from outbreaks of COVID-19 on college campuses across the US, we will ask segments of the Penn community to be tested on a weekly basis, even in the absence of symptoms. This approach, called surveillance testing, will apply to students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who have a sustained presence on campus in congregate settings, defined as environments in which a number of people reside, meet, or gather in a common shared space, in environments without the use of personal protective equipment (which is used, for example, by health care practitioners in a clinical or laboratory setting). Using this data-driven approach for those with a heightened risk of transmission, we will send invitations to enroll in surveillance testing, beginning on September 14, to:

  •          Students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who are present on campus for at least 8 hours every week and whose activities are done in a congregate setting that involves at least 10 people.
  •          Students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who share a residential space with 3 or more individuals with whom they are not related, including those who live in College Houses.

Moving Forward

Technology and access to testing are advancing quickly. While we will continue to use nasal swab testing for the fall semester, we are continuing to explore the feasibility of novel testing options for the spring semester. 

The Public Health Promotion Team

To encourage adherence to Weitzman Campus Compact and other health and safety measures instituted at our school, Weitzman has brought together a group of Weitzman faculty, staff, and students to serve on the Public Health Promotion Team (PHPT): Karl Wellman, Co-Chair; Megan Ryerson, Co-Chair; Masoud Akbarzadeh; Brendan Burke; Chris Cataldo; Julia Fox; Kristen Giannantonio; Mark Harper; Arden Jordan; Katherine Linton; Ken Lum; Courtney Magill; Sandra Mosgo; Matt Neff; Jen Reyes; Sara Stewart; Alanna Wittet; and LeighAnn Bogner Winslow.

You are free to raise concerns about your own safety or the safety of those around you, without recrimination or consequence, to any member of the PHPT. Alternatively, you may also contact PHPT Co-Chair Karl Wellman, Senior Director for Operations and Planning, Design and Construction, at kwellman@design.upenn.edu.

Penn COVID-19 Information and Resources

The Penn website dedicated to Coronavirus issues is coronavirus.upenn.edu. This site is being continuously updated, and topics covered there include:

  • Past University Announcements
  • Tools and guidelines for working remotely
  • Guidance for teaching remotely
  • Health information and guidance
  • Workplace and home precautions
  • Resources for supervisors and staff from Penn HR
  • Travel
  • Resumption of research

In this stressful time, be aware that there are extensive support resources available to students. One call to the HELP LINE (215.898.4357) can assist you in finding personal and mental health support for yourself or others in distress. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, faculty and staff always have access to Penn’s Employee Assistance Program.

Healthy Habits

  • Stay home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, you should stay home until you are free of fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.8 degrees Centigrade).
  • Wash your hands throughout the day for at least 20 seconds using soap and running water.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or with your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue.

Weitzman Buildings

The Office of Operations and Planning at Weitzman, with guidance from Penn Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS), has adopted a four-pronged plan for Weitzman buildings that provides for (1) Health screening and monitoring; (2) Personal Protective Equipment; (3) Enhanced facilities cleaning; and (4) Social distancing.

Students, faculty, and staff will undergo heath screening before being granted access to all Weitzman buildings. Access is granted based on three criteria: A (green) Day Pass from PennOpen Pass (see above); a Penn mask or other face covering that complies with guidelines documented in the COVID-19 Return to Campus Guide; and a temperature less than 100.3 Fahrenheit or 37.8 Celsius.

To facilitate overnight cleaning measures, Weitzman facilities will be closed to students, faculty and staff outside of study hours, which are 8:00am to 9:00pm, Monday through Friday. Housekeeping procedures at all Weitzman buildings will be implemented to hospital-grade standards, so that frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, countertops) are treated with appropriate cleaning solutions and with greater frequency. Hand sanitization stations will be installed throughout Weitzman buildings, and anti-viral cleaning wipes will be available outside classrooms and labs. Electrostatic spraying and UV lighting will be implemented for disinfecting labs and classrooms.

Seating and workstations have been reconfigured to ensure appropriate social distancing; in some locations, Plexiglass barriers have been installed. Elevators will be limited to two occupants at any time, and maximum room occupancy will be posted throughout Weitzman buildings and strictly enforced. New signage has been installed to organize traffic flow and eliminate bottlenecks.

Public Events

Among the mitigation practices that have been implemented in the interest of social distancing, gatherings of large groups, including lectures and other public events, have been canceled or postponed. However, the School will continue to uphold its commitment to public education and community engagement through a number of virtual lectures and events. Visit the Weitzman Calendar of Events to learn about the status of previously announced events.

University-Related Emergencies

Contact the Division of Public Safety 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 215.573.3333 or dial 511 from a campus phone.

The PennComm operations center supports non-English speakers with the use of AT&T’s Language Line, which permits ESL speakers to contact the emergency number and communicate with an emergency dispatcher in over 120 different languages. Additionally, the Language Line can be employed by any UPPD officer in a face-to-face interaction, where the ESL speaker can request to communicate to the Penn Police in his/her own native language via a phone call.

UPenn Alert

If you are not already subscribed to receive UPenn Alert electronic notifications, you are urged to do so by visiting the Office of Public Safety website.

Previous Weitzman School Announcements