Responding to COVID-19: Spring 2022

Dear Weitzman Faculty and Staff,

Happy New Year!  We hope you’ve had a restful and restorative Winter Break.

We are writing to share some important updates about the Spring 2021 semester regarding PennOpen Pass (which all faculty and staff are asked to use daily), and COVID-19 testing and quarantining guidelines (for faculty and staff who plan to come to campus). This email includes a lot of important information, so we encourage you to read it thoroughly. You can also find this information and the latest guidance on COVID-19 testing and other measures to keep the Weitzman community healthy and safe at

Please note that only faculty and staff who have been approved to come to campus by their supervisor are required to enroll in COVID-19 testing. Faculty or staff who are continuing to work from home do not need to make arrangements to come to campus.

  1. Enroll in PennOpen Pass and Complete Daily Symptom Checks

All faculty and staff 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 strengthen our understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the Penn community. 

Remember, a Green Pass from Penn Open Pass is required to enter any Penn building or board Penn Transit, even for those who only occasionally make campus visits. Additional information can be found here:

  1. Quarantine (Faculty and Staff Returning to Campus)

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 (based on current guidelines). However, the quarantine requirements do not apply to faculty or staff who are commuting from New Jersey, Delaware, or New York City.  Faculty and staff should schedule a “Gateway” COVID-19 Test as close as possible to the day of their arrival in Philadelphia (see #3 below). Results of the test do not change the requirement to quarantine for 14 days (i.e., one cannot test out of quarantine).

  1. Get Tested through Penn Cares 

Penn Cares is the new University-wide testing program introduced for Spring 2021. Faculty, emeritus faculty and other retirees, postdocs, academic affiliates, and staff who are planning to be on campus for four or more hours each weekthroughout the semester are required to enroll in the Penn Cares and be tested once per weekYou must enroll byJanuary 18, 2021. This enrollment requirement is fulfilled when you schedule your first test; the testing requirement is ongoing for the duration of the semester.

Please schedule your first test on the first day you arrive back to campus. After completing this initial Gateway test, you also will need to sign up for weekly testing. Additional information about the University’s Spring COVID-19 Testing Program, Penn Cares, is included below. 

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


The Penn Cares spring testing program launched in December of 2020. 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 program significantly increases the University’s testing capacity and enhances our ability to assess COVID-19 prevalence in the Penn community. 

Who Must Get Tested Through Penn Cares

Twice per week:

  • Undergraduates students living on or off campus in the Philadelphia area will be tested on preassigned day pairs.
  • 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:

  • Graduate students who come to campus each week.
  • 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 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.

Making An Appointment 

Screening testing is by appointment only, by 9pm of the previous day; walk-ins cannot be accommodated due to the processes which prepare the labels and staffing for sample collection. Select a day, time, and testing site by visiting the new web-based COVID Scheduling application, where you will also give consent to receive the new saliva-based test. A tip sheet provides step-by-step instructions for those who need assistance.

Appointments are booked at 15-minute intervals on a first-come, first-served basis. Scheduling in advance improves chances of receiving your desired testing day, time, and location.

Testing sites span the campus from west to east and north to south. Choose the location and time that fit your schedule. 

Before You Arrive for Your Appointment

Saliva-based testing requires a little bit of prep work. For at least 30 minutes before the scheduled testing time, refrain from certain activities, such as eating and drinking, to avoid contaminating the sample.

Anyone who will be on campus is required to complete a daily symptom check on PennOpen Pass. Only a Green Pass allows access to campus facilities and transit. A Red Pass provides instructions for next steps. 

Plan to be “hands-free” during the testing process. All coffee, water bottles, etc. must be discarded and phones must be put away prior to testing. Storage of personal possessions will not be available at the testing site. 

During and After the Appointment

Once a Green PennOpen Pass is shown, complete touchless check-in with a current PennCard. Staff will assist you during the collection process. 

Plan to spend at most 30 minutes completing the testing process. Results will be available at Penn’s Covid Results website within 48 hours. As always, remember to wear a face covering, remain physically distant, and wash hands frequently.

More information on Penn Cares testing and other University resources is available on the Penn COVID-19 Response website. 

Thank you very much for your support and your partnership.  We look forward to “seeing” you next week.

Leslie Hurtig, Associate Dean for Administration
Karl Wellman, Senior Director, Operations and Planning, Design and Construction