Responding to COVID-19: Spring 2022

Dear Weitzman students, staff, and faculty, 

We write to follow up on the University’s message (copied below) regarding important changes to the start of the Spring 2022 Semester. In our continuing efforts to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, and in accordance with the University’s changes for undergraduate students, the Weitzman School of Design will begin spring semester classes and studios as scheduled on Wednesday, January 12 virtually and then resume in-person classes and studios beginning on Monday January 24, 2022.  

Reduced Access to Weitzman Labs, Resources and Services 

During the period from January 12, 2022 to January 24, 2022 the following Weitzman Labs, resources and services will be closed or unavailable: 

  • Robotics Lab 
  • Fabrication Lab 
  • All digital and photography labs in Addams Hall 
  • All computer labs 
  • All printers and plotters 

Please note that IT staff will be working remotely during this time. Please email if you have questions or concerns, or visit the  IT Services section of the Weitzman website.  

Use of Weitzman Buildings by Students Before January 24, 2022 Is Discouraged 

The use of Weitzman buildings during the period when classes and studios will be held remotely is strongly discouraged. However, if you need to retrieve equipment, materials, or personal belongings, or if you are unable to complete studio or class work at home, you may enter Weitzman buildings between the hours of 8:30am and 5:00pm Mondays through Fridays from Wednesday, January 12 through Friday, January 21. PennCard access will not be available for students outside of those times. It is extremely important that students entering any Weitzman building MUST adhere to the following guidelines: 

Complete PennOpen pass prior to entering and DO NOT enter if you have a red pass; 

  • Wear a mask at ALL times; 
  • Refrain from eating; 
  • Wash hands frequently; 
  • Practice social distancing. 

Weitzman staff will be monitoring all buildings to assess adherence to these guidelines. Violations may result in disciplinary action. 

Move-In For Students Living in Campus Housing  

Move-in for students living in on-campus housing will be delayed until Saturday, January 15, 2022. More detailed information regarding move-in details will be sent to you from the University in the coming weeks.
Weitzman Staff Can Work Virtually Until January 24, 2022 Unless Otherwise Instructed by Their Supervisor 

Staff should prepare to return to work virtually on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 and will not be required to return to in-person work until Monday, January 24, 2022. Some staff, however, will be required to return to campus as scheduled on January 5th in order to maintain Weitzman buildings and monitor ongoing projects. Your supervisor will contact you if your in-person presence is required. We are extremely grateful to all staff members who are required to be on site for their hard work and commitment, which have been essential to the School’s successful operations since the onset of the pandemic.  

Pre-Return to Campus Testing Requirement and New Booster Requirement

Please see the University’s email below regarding required return-to-campus requirements for faculty, staff, and students. All members of the Penn community will be required to complete a negative PCR test 48 hours before returning to campus. The University will send more information in January about this requirement. Free testing will continue to be available to all students, faculty, staff and post-docs on campus throughout Winter Break; you can find the testing schedule here. Information about the new booster requirement can be found here. We will follow up in the New Year with more details concerning these policies and required actions. 

As a reminder, we may modify these guidelines depending on input from medical and health experts, and we will communicate any updates or changes to you as soon as they become available.  

Thank you all for your patience, resilience, and flexibility.

We wish you a healthy and happy Winter Break! 

Fritz Steiner, Leslie Hurtig, and Karl Wellman


A Message to the Penn Community
Amy Gutmann, President
Beth Winkelstein, Interim Provost
Craig Carnaroli, Senior Executive Vice President
J. Larry Jameson, Executive Vice President for the Health System

As we wish you all a joyful and healthy holiday break, we write to update you on our plans to start the new semester in a way that ensures the safest and most fulsome Penn educational experience.

Recognizing the high level of concern about the Omicron variant and its potential impact on spring semester operations, we have been consulting closely with medical and public health experts, as well as monitoring data concerning the variant’s spread. While this is an uncertain situation, the data modeling suggests that we must take steps to prepare for a potential surge of cases in January. To that end, we summarize below our plan for the start of Penn’s 2022 spring semester. Our plan is designed to optimally protect the health and safety of our community and sustain the educational and research mission that defines our university. It is supported by the talented and dedicated Penn team that has done so much since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020.

Delayed In-Person Classes and Student Move-In
We will begin undergraduate classes as scheduled on January 12 in virtual formats online (except for clinical courses), and then transition to in-person classes on January 24. We will also delay undergraduate student move-in to campus housing by one week, to begin on January 15. More detailed information will follow in the coming weeks. Students in graduate and professional programs will receive additional guidance from their programs, as will postdoctoral fellows. These measures are designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus during the peak weeks of January when the spread will potentially be most active.

Pre-Return to Campus Testing Requirements
All students will be required to complete a negative PCR test 48 hours before returning to campus. We will send more information in January about this requirement. Free testing will continue to be available to all students, faculty, staff and post-docs on campus throughout winter break; you can find the testing schedule here. 

Ongoing Mitigation Measures
We will continue to enforce our testing, masking, OpenPass, and vaccination guidelines, along with our new booster requirement. Upon initial return to campus, we will require a new gateway test for all faculty, staff, students, and post-docs. We also will continue our suspension of indoor social events. Dining will be grab-and-go pending further evaluation of the case trends. We will follow up in the new year with more details concerning these policies and action.

Faculty and Staff Information
For faculty members, you will hear more from your individual deans about plans and protocols in your Schools. For staff members, we strongly encourage deans and vice presidents to allow employees to work remotely until January 23, when possible, given job responsibilities and organizational needs. UPHS-affiliated faculty and staff should follow guidance from the Health System. We are enormously appreciative of all employees who continue to work on campus in support of our entire community.

In the weeks ahead, we will continue to assess the evolving context and communicate to you about it. We will not hesitate to change our guidance based upon input from our medical and health experts. We are grateful for the patience, resilience, and flexibility of every member of our community as we face unpredictable circumstances together.

We again wish you a healthy and happy holiday break, and we look forward to getting started together on the spring semester in the new year.