Spring 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 Spring 2021 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 past months 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. For more information about the University's response to COVID-19 and Penn resources, visit coronavirus.upenn.edu

Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility.

Academic Calendar & Departmental Schedules

Spring classes begin on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. 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 times per week on alternating days and on staggered schedules. Courses will also be offered in the summer of 2021. 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.

Six Steps to Prepare for Spring 2021

1. “Learning From Address” in Penn in Touch [Students Only]

Be sure to keep your “Learning From Address” current in Penn in Touch. This helps your faculty account for time zone or other differences that may impact your learning during the semester. It also enables Penn to provide the best public health response to COVID-19 based on who is or is not in Philadelphia. To update your “Learning From” address:

  • Go to Penn in Touch
  • Click on “Profile, privacy, and Emergency” in the left column
  • Click on “Address Information” in the dropdown menu that appears
  • Click on the “Learning From Address” tab and fill in your updated address
  • Click “Update” at the bottom of the page to save your changes

Keep your “Learning From Address” up-to-date! For example, if you start the semester in China, use that as your “Learning From Address.” If you then arrive in Philadelphia in February, add your Philadelphia address at that time.

2. Quarantine for Students Returning to Philadelphia

Anyone coming from outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must complete a 14-day precautionary travel quarantine, which is the Center for Disease Control’s gold standard. Students should schedule a “Gateway” COVID-19 Test as close as possible to the day of their arrival in Philadelphia (see #4 below). Results of the Gateway Test do not change the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. One cannot test out of quarantine.

3. Be Sure to Enroll in PennOpen Pass [Students, Faculty, and Staff]

All students who are living in the US and particularly in or near Philadelphia are asked to complete a daily symptom check using PennOpen Pass, whether you plan to come to campus or not. Completing PennOpen Pass on your phone or device takes less than a minute, and the data it generates is important for tracking and monitoring COVID symptoms in our community. Completing PennOpen Pass is also the fastest route to testing for those who are exhibiting symptoms or who have had an exposure, so there is a direct benefit to compliance. We hope you will do your part to support the University’s larger public health goals and understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Additional information can be found on the PennOpen Pass website.

4. Testing 

Penn Cares is the new University-wide testing program introduced for Spring 2021. Graduate students are required to sign up for ongoing screening tests if you will be coming to campus one or more times per week in the Spring semester. Please note that Weitzman students who are living in on-campus housing are required to be tested twice per week. Faculty, emeritus faculty and other retirees, postdocs, academic affiliates, and staff who are planning to be on campus for four or more hours each week throughout the semester are required to enroll in the Penn Cares and be tested once per week. You must enroll by January 18, 2021. This enrollment requirement is fulfilled when you schedule your first test, which should be scheduled for the first day you arrive back on campus. After completing this initial Gateway test, you also will need to sign up for weekly testing. Even if all of your classes will be online, local students who plan to use Weitzman facilities or other campus buildings (such as study space in the Library) on a weekly basis will need to enroll in the testing program.

5. Review Spring Protocols and Resources

6. Quiet Period

The University will be observing a Quiet Period from January 6-31 during which no in-person activities or gatherings are planned. The Quiet Period does not apply to in-person classes that may begin on January 20. All members of the Penn Community are asked to observe this quiet period in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the first few weeks back on campus together.

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 8:00 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 is 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.

Penn Cares / COVID-19 Testing

Penn Cares is the new University-wide testing program introduced for Spring 2021. Testing, as well as following all public health guidance – masking, maintaining a safe physical distance, and making sure to wash your hands often – is just one piece of the solution to helping to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. This testing program – which significantly increases our testing capacity and enhances our ability to assess COVID-19 prevalence in the University community – helps allow us to welcome students back for the spring semester. Please read on to find out what role you will play in this historic transformation of our campus during the pandemic.

Who Must Test 

Twice per week: 
1. Undergraduates students living on or off campus in the Philadelphia area will be tested on preassigned day pairs. 
2. Faculty, postdocs, staff, and graduate students who live on campus will be tested on selected day pairs (Monday & Thursday, Tuesday & Friday, Wednesday & Saturday) of their choosing. 

Once per week:
1. Graduate students who come to campus each week. 
2. Faculty, emeritus faculty and other retirees, postdocs, academic affiliates, and staff who are on campus for four or more hours each week throughout the semester. 

Who should NOT participate in Penn Cares Screening Testing: 
• Anyone who comes to campus less than once per week or is not enrolled in the Penn Cares screening protocol 
• These criteria have been established based on federal, state and local guidelines as well as in consultation with public health experts. They are subject to change. 

Gateway Testing and the Quiet Period 

Gateway testing, or day-of arrival testing, is required of students only. This testing establishes the baseline prevalence of COVID-19. On the day of their arrival, students who are on-campus residents must drop off their belongings and report directly to a testing site. They must then return to their College House and quarantine until they receive their test results. Students who live off campus also must perform a gateway test as soon as they arrive, and no later than January 18. 

From January 6 to 31, the University will observe a Quiet Period during which there will be no planned activities or large gatherings, excluding in-person classes that may begin meeting on January 20. The goal is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in these first weeks together. 

As soon as students take their gateway test, they should enroll in their regular testing schedule using the online scheduling application

Faculty, postdocs, and staff who meet the testing criteria must enroll by January 18. This enrollment requirement is fulfilled when they schedule their first test. 

Use of PennOpen Pass 

Not everyone will return to campus or Philadelphia for the spring semester. For those who will continue to work remotely and do not fit the criteria to be on campus, the University still strongly encourages enrollment in PennOpen Pass. A Green Pass is required to enter University or Penn Medicine buildings or board Penn Transit, even for those who only occasionally make campus visits. Reporting symptoms or exposure in PennOpen Pass also expedites access to the clinical guidance of Penn Medicine clinicians, and diagnostic testing if necessary. 

For More Information 

More information on the process and the program is available on the Penn COVID-19 Response website. 

Penn Cares/Testing FAQs

Q: Where and how do I enroll?
A: You will be enrolled automatically in the program once you have scheduled your first testing by following the link to Penn Cares above

Q: Can I schedule multiple appointments or recurring appointments on block
A: You may schedule multiple appointments in advance but at this time each instance must be completed separately 

Q: What if I skip my testing for one week?
A: If you don’t test for one week your PennOpen Pass will turn red automatically. Your PennOpen Pass will turn back to green within 24 hours from scheduling the next testing

Q: Am I required to continue to participate in the screening testing program after receiving the COVID vaccine?
A: Yes, COVID vaccine does not absolve you from the screening testing as we don’t know if vaccinated individuals do not transmit the Corona virus to others. Vaccinated individuals must continue to observe, mask wearing, hand hygiene, and social distancing. Vaccinated individuals must continue to comply with all PPE requirements as outline in the infection control plan.

Penn Cares COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Opening

Vaccines are one of the greatest tools in the fight against the pandemic. On Monday, April 12, students, faculty, and staff received an email from the announcing that Penn will open the Penn Cares COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic on Wednesday, April 14, and begin administering vaccines to eligible faculty, staff, and post-doctoral trainees. This phased approach is consistent with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) guidelines, which prioritizes by age adult members of the Penn community. Please consult the email for details and links.

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 January 2021, the University created a new COVID Resource Call Center to provide assistance with testing, PennOpen Pass, contact tracing, and more. You can reach a call center representative Monday through Friday from 9:00am - 5:00pm (EST) at 215.573.7096 or covidresource@upenn.edu. Please visit Penn's COVID Resource Website for more information.

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

Meyerson, Fisher, Morgan, Addams, Duhring Wing, Franklin Annex, and 3401 Walnut are open Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 8:00pm, with Morgan having additional hours Saturdays, 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Students may enter the buildings for class and studio meetings, individual study, research, and 3D printing/Fab Lab contactless service.

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 8:00pm, Monday through Friday. (The Morgan building has additional hours on Saturdays, 12:00pm to 4:00pm.) 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

March 4, 2021, 11:27am
January 19, 2021, 2:33pm
November 2, 2020, 12:44pm
August 12, 2020, 4:43pm
May 27, 2020, 5:57pm
March 5, 2020, 9:13am