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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: May 20, 2022 4:12 pm

The following Frequently Asked Questions address our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For questions specific to an individual academic program, please contact your program manager. For more information on campus-wide services and programs—including information on Penn’s COVID Resource Call Center—visit Penn’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources page.

This resource for the Penn GSE community is updated regularly. Newand Updatedindicate questions that have been added or updated within the past 48 hours.

Sections:

Students

The University provides detailed and constantly updated COVID-related guidance for students on its Student FAQ page. On that page you can find answers to questions concerning vaccination, public health measures, classroom exposure, testing, and quarantine.

What are the current pre-arrival and gateway testing requirements for students?

Visit the Penn Cares Testing Program page for the latest pre-arrival, gateway, and screening testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, and postdocs.

Is a COVID booster (3rd dose) required for students?

Yes. All students (as well as staff, faculty, and postdocs) are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning all are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted. Those who have not yet been boosted and/or have not uploaded their booster information should do so as soon as possible. Twice-a-week testing is required for all who have not yet uploaded their vaccine and booster information and/or those who have an approved exemption. Visit the Public Health Guidance page for more information.

All students should upload their booster documentation to their Student Health Portal

I am within the eligibility period for receiving a COVID booster shot but I recently tested positive for COVID. Is there a waiting period between being COVID positive and getting a booster?

No. You are eligible for a booster shot as soon as you complete isolation. There is no waiting period unless designated by a doctor.

For additional guidance, visit the Penn Cares Vaccination page.

What are the consequences for students if they do not upload proof of COVID-19 vaccination to the Penn Wellness website?

Students who do not submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be placed on registration hold. This will result in students not being able to register for spring classes or attend classes—in person or remotely. Registration holds also prevent doctoral students from being able to defend their dissertation proposals or conduct final doctoral defenses. Students with a registration hold are also unable to take out loans for living expenses.

Information about how to comply (or how to seek an exemption on religious or medical grounds) can be found on Penn’s Coronavirus website.

How can I report noncompliance with Penn’s mask mandate?

Anyone can report noncompliance with the University’s mask mandate through this simple online form.

As a student, do I need to show a green PennOpen Pass to enter GSE buildings?

Yes. As of September 8, all students should expect faculty and the GSE security guard to ask to see a green PennOpen Pass to enter class or the GSE building. In addition, any staff or faculty member may ask to see your green OpenPass at any time. In order to get a green OpenPass, you need to fill out the PennOpen Pass form before you come to campus AND have completed your Gateway testing. 

Can I eat indoors?

Eating and drinking among others remains one of the higher risk activities for disease transmission, especially indoors. Eating outdoors remains a preferable and safer option but eating indoors is not prohibited. If you choose to eat indoors, please maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing. Please minimize unmasked socializing while eating and drinking indoors.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had an exposure?

First, report your symptoms or exposure through your daily PennOpen Pass attestation. PennOpen Pass will provide guidance for testing and isolation. 

If you're symptomatic, PennOpen Pass will connect you with Student Health if you need further instructions or medical care. 

If you've had an exposure, PennOpen Pass will connect you with Campus Health for more instructions and care.

If you test positive, you will be required to isolate for 10 days and cooperate with our contact tracing efforts, even if fully vaccinated, as per our current Public Health Guidance.

How can I connect with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)?

CAPS can connect with you either via phone (24/7 access) or video conference, as well as in person. If you have been receiving care through CAPS, your counselor will continue to communicate with you about your needs moving forward. If you are looking to initiate care, CAPS remains committed to offering free and confidential support as the need determines. You can visit CAPS at https://caps.wellness.upenn.edu.

Where can I get up-to-date information for international students?

International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) has created an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions related to COVID-19. It includes information about travel and housing, online coursework, ISSS hours of operation, and Optional Practical Training (OPT). If you need additional information, ISSS advisors are available by email or virtual advising appointment.

International students should also reference the ISSS web page as well as Penn’s university-wide COVID-19 web page.

For any other assistance, please contact Ann Tiao, atiao@upenn.edu or (215) 898-7019. 

What resources are available for students experiencing racial harassment because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you have been harassed or intimidated because of the coronavirus, please contact the Office of Student Services. Even if the incident did not happen on Penn’s campus or have a direct Penn connection, we can begin the process to support you. In addition to providing personal support, it’s possible that university services can work outside of Penn’s campus boundaries with other jurisdictions.

Other resources for students who have experienced racial harassment are as follows: Public Safety’s Special Services divisionSISCAPSGrad Student Center, and Pan-Asian American Community House are resources for students on campus. In addition there are resources from the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

How can I report a bias-motivated attack against a member of the Asian or Asian American communities?

The Division of Public Safety has been alerted to bias-motivated attacks against members of the Asian and/or Asian American communities that have occurred since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Virus. Should any member of our community receive any threatening messages or become the victim of a criminal act, or see suspicious activity, regardless of the location, please call the Emergency Communications Center immediately at 215-573-3333. You can also submit the information to Public Safety through their Online Crime Reporting Form. In addition, students should report any incidents to Ann Tiao, Assistant Dean of Student Services, at atiao@gse.upenn.edu or 215-898-7019.

I'm a student in an executive format program. What protocol do I need to follow before coming to campus?

All students in Penn GSE’s executive format programs must attest to a negative COVID-19 test within the 72-hour period before their scheduled arrival on campus.

Any type of FDA-approved diagnostic test (either lab-based molecular/PCR or rapid/home-based antigen/lateral flow) is permissible, although the testing timeframe varies based on the type of test you take:

  • For molecular/PCR tests: Because the turnaround time for receiving results of these tests can be 12–48 hours, we recommended that you take this test 48–72 hours prior to arrival.
  • For rapid/home tests: We recommend taking a rapid test approximately 24 hours before arriving on campus. Two rapid home tests that are approved are Abbott BinaxNOW and Ellume.

To provide this attestation, fill out the Negative COVID-19 Test Attestation Form. Please complete your attestation 24 hours prior to your visit to campus.

This testing is one of many public health measures intended to keep our community safe. You are also required to complete daily symptom checks using PennOpen Campus before you depart for campus each day, wear a face covering when indoors, and abide by all state, local, and University guidance.

Don’t hesitate to contact your program if you have any questions about these requirements.

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Staff & Faculty

What if I don’t see an answer to my question?

In a rapidly changing environment, we know that we may not have thought of everything about teaching and working in person amid the ongoing pandemic, and we appreciate all questions. If you don’t see your question answered on this page, please submit your inquiry here and someone will be in touch within one business day. Answers may also be incorporated into this FAQ in the future. Thank you.

 

Classroom Instruction

Where can I find COVID-related guidance on teaching this semester?

For COVID-related information for instructors teaching this semester, visit the University’s COVID-19 Academic Information and Resources page. You can find guidance on GSE IT support for hybrid teaching in the “Return to Campus: Hybrid Teaching and Working Support” message on our News & Updates page.

Can I ask my students to show their Green OpenPass?

Yes. It is acceptable to ask students to show their Green OpenPass when meeting with them in person, whether in classroom settings or in one-on-one meetings.

What should I do if a student tells me they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had an exposure?

Please encourage the student to take the steps described in What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19 or have had an exposure? above. This tool will provide the student with public health guidance and connect them to clinical support. In addition, please report the case to Penn GSE Student Services at gse-oss@gse.upenn.edu.

Note: Under absolutely no circumstances should you share this information with anyone else.

 

Visitors, Meetings & Travel

Does the vaccination requirement for visitors mean that they have to be boosted?

No. Penn follows CDC and Philadelphia Department of Public Health guidance for visitors, which means that “fully vaccinated” is defined as completing a full series of COVID vaccine. A booster shot is not required to count as fully vaccinated at this time.

What safety precautions and protocols do visitors (e.g., event participants, prospective students, guest speakers, vendors, contractors) need to follow?

All visitors to campus and University-sponsored events must complete PennOpen Campus and follow all other public health guidance, including being fully vaccinated and complying with masking requirements. You can find complete guidance on hosting visitors on campus on the Penn Coronavirus Visitors page. It is your responsibility as host to communicate these policies and protocols to your visitors before they come to campus.

Note: Visitors are not required to be boosted; they count as fully vaccinated if they have received a full series of the vaccine.

Are in-person meetings, gatherings and events permitted?

On February 15, 2022, the University updated its public health guidance on campus events and gatherings. At GSE we are taking a more cautious approach to lifting guidelines, as follows: 

  • Indoor gatherings are allowed.
    • No food or beverages may be consumed (grab & go only).
  • Outdoor gatherings are encouraged.
    • Food and beverages can be served/consumed.

The GSE community is encouraged to use the courtyard tents for gatherings that include food and beverages. For details on reserving tents, visit the GSE Room Reservations page.

What are the University’s travel guidelines and procedures?

Please visit Penn Global’s COVID-19 travel guidelines and procedures for the most up-to-date information.

 

Vaccination & Testing

What are the current pre-arrival and gateway testing requirements for employees?

Visit the Penn Cares Testing Program page for the latest pre-arrival, gateway, and screening testing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, staff, and postdocs.

I tested positive for COVID, but the test wasn’t conducted through Penn. Should I submit my test results to Penn?

Yes. Anyone who tests positive, regardless of the test type, should report it through their PennOpen Pass and submit the result to covidtesting@upenn.edu.

I tested positive for COVID within the past 90 days. Am I exempt from gateway and screening testing?

It depends. First, note that anyone who tests positive, regardless of the test type, should report it through PennOpen Pass and submit the result to covidtesting@upenn.edu.

If you tested positive through a PCR or other lab-based test where the result includes your name and date of birth AND you submitted the result to Penn as described above, the result will be entered into Penn’s covidresults database, and you will be exempted from gateway and any required screening program.

If you tested positive through a home test AND you submitted the result to Penn as described above, you will be directed to still participate in gateway and screening, but your isolation guidance may be modified if you have submitted that positive test result.

Is a COVID booster (3rd dose) required for employees?

Yes. All faculty, staff, and postdocs (as well as students) are required to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning all are required to be fully vaccinated and boosted. Those who have not yet been boosted and/or have not uploaded their booster information should do so as soon as possible. Twice-a-week testing is required for all who have not yet uploaded their vaccine and booster information and/or those who have an approved exemption. Visit the Public Health Guidance page for more information.

Faculty, staff, and postdocs should upload their information into Workday. Step-by-step instructions for uploading vaccine information into Workday can be found here: Self Service: Enter Vaccination Information.

I am within the eligibility period for receiving a COVID booster shot but I recently tested positive for COVID. Is there a waiting period between being COVID positive and getting a booster?

No. You are eligible for a booster shot as soon as you complete isolation. There is no waiting period unless designated by a doctor.

For additional guidance, visit the Penn Cares Vaccination page.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine required for employees?

Consistent with Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) guidance, the University requires all current faculty, staff, and postdocs to be fully vaccinated, except for those with medical or religious exemptions, by October 15, 2021. Unless you are granted an exemption, failure to report full vaccination will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Access the latest information on vaccinations and exemptions.

Step-by-step instructions for entering your COVID-19 vaccination information are in the Self Service: Enter Vaccination Information tip sheet. If you have questions on the Workday process, please contact the Penn Employee Solution Center at (215) 898-7372 or solutioncenter@upenn.edu

I'm a Penn employee but am also enrolled as a student at Penn. Do I need to upload my proof of COVID-19 vaccination through Workday AND through the Student Health Services portal?

Yes. If you are taking classes at Penn, you need to upload your proof of vaccination through Workday as well as through the Student Health Services portal. You risk receiving a red PennOpen Pass if your records are not uploaded to both systems.

How do I upload my vaccine documentation?

Penn has launched a simple process in Workday for all employees and postdoctoral trainees to record their COVID-19 vaccination status securely and confidentially. For step-by-step instructions on how to complete this task, visit this help page on Workday.

How do I request a medical or religious exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement?

To request a medical or religious exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, begin by downloading the appropriate form:

Each form explains the qualifying criteria for exemption and how to complete and submit the request form.

For current information on the vaccination requirement, getting vaccinated, testing, and other public health guidance, please visit Penn’s COVID-19 Response website. Please contact the COVID Resource Call Center at covidresource@upenn.edu or (215) 573-7096 with questions.

How do I know if my colleagues at work are vaccinated?

The University requires all faculty, staff, and postdocs, as well as students, to be vaccinated against COVID-19. As of October 16, 2021:

  • 97% of our faculty and staff campus-wide are vaccinated.
  • 96% of our entire student population are vaccinated.
  • 99% of our undergraduate students are vaccinated.

If an individual receives a medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement, they will be required to participate in twice weekly Penn Cares screening testing, complete their daily PennOpen Pass screening, and follow other public health guidelines, including masking indoors at all times. If individuals are participating in twice weekly screening testing, they too are taking appropriate precautions to protect their colleagues. This information will be maintained securely, with access limited to those individuals engaged in health and safety functions for Penn all on a need-to-know basis.

Unless an employee is granted a medical or religious exemption, failure to report full vaccination will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Note: An employee’s individual vaccination status is considered confidential, private medical information. Employees may not inquire about the vaccination status of others. If this information is voluntarily provided by the individual themselves, it should not be used to determine any workplace practices or factor into any decision-making (i.e., who is permitted to join a meeting or event).

What if I have been vaccinated but don’t feel comfortable working on campus for health reasons?

The University provides reasonable accommodations for qualified faculty and staff with disabilities to allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Determinations regarding what constitutes a reasonable accommodation are made on a case-by-case basis. Faculty and staff who seek reasonable accommodations should contact the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs. Employees must complete the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and have their medical provider complete the Reasonable Accommodation Medical Authorization Form. The requests and medical information provided will be treated as sensitive and confidential and will only be shared as necessary with those who have a need to know in order to provide the reasonable accommodation. When determining whether a request for an accommodation is reasonable, the factors that are considered are whether the individual can fulfill the essential functions of the position with or without an accommodation and whether the provision of the accommodation would be an undue hardship for the University.

Who is required to use PennOpen Pass?

As of August 25, daily use of PennOpen Pass symptom tracker is again required of all members of the Penn community who are accessing campus for any reason this fall. You should use PennOpen Pass daily regardless of whether you are coming to campus on any given day. On days when you are coming to Penn, you should complete the screening before you depart for campus. You can sign up for a daily text reminder and set your reminder time in your PennOpen Pass profile.

A Green Pass is required to enter many academic buildings and all healthcare facilities, including the Penn Cares testing site and Student Health and Counseling offices.

You should also use PennOpen Pass to report COVID-19 symptoms and exposures. This tool will connect you to official public health guidance and clinical support.

Note: You should feel free to ask students, colleagues, and visitors with whom you will be in close contact to show you their Green Pass for that day.

 

Workplace Health & Safety

Does Penn GSE provide masks to students, faculty, and staff?

Yes. We have N95, Aries, surgical, and Penn GSE–branded cloth masks available for GSE students and employees. You can pick up masks from the following people:

  • 3700 Walnut: Jasma Lee (security desk on first floor) and Lizzie Petela (214A)
  • 3440 Market: Sherri King (Room 390) and Tony Delgozzo (Room 560-128)
  • Stiteler: Noel Lipki in the reception area on the second floor

How can I report noncompliance with the mask mandate?

Anyone can report noncompliance with the mask mandate through this simple online form.

Is it safe for me to be at work if I’m vaccinated?

Yes, if you are fully vaccinated and wear a mask indoors when distancing of 6 feet cannot be maintained, it is safe to resume normal activities both inside and outside. Data suggest that masking and vaccines authorized by the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO) are highly effective at protecting people against symptomatic and severe COVID-19. The University will continue to monitor the situation and will alter guidance based on conditions and guidance from state and local authorities.

Is it safe for me to be at work if I’m not vaccinated?

Yes. If you have received an approved medical or religious exemption from the vaccination requirement, you are required to participate in Penn Cares screening testing twice a week, complete your daily symptom attestation in PennOpen Pass, and wear a mask while indoors. By doing so, you will help to protect yourself and those around you from the spread of COVID-19. The University will continue to monitor the situation and will alter guidance based on conditions and guidance from state and local authorities.

How do faculty pursue exemptions from in-person teaching due to health issues?

Faculty seeking a medical accommodation should contact the Office of Affirmative Action (OAA) and Equal Opportunity Programs either by calling 215-898-6993 or emailing oaaeop@pobox.upenn.edu.

I’m worried that working with someone who is not vaccinated may get me sick. What can I do?

Following Penn’s Public Health Guidance—including getting vaccinated—is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19. As of October 25, 100% of GSE’s faculty, staff, and postdocs and 96% of Penn students report being fully vaccinated.

Those who receive an approved medical or religious exemption are required to participate in twice weekly Penn Cares screening testing and wear masks at all times while indoors. Other recommended actions to keep you safe include staying home if you are feeling unwell, washing hands, and using hand sanitizer regularly.

Are there any occupancy or distancing restrictions?

There are no occupancy or distancing restrictions for course meetings in classrooms with members of the Penn community. During special events and gatherings, Penn recommends that, whenever possible, physical distancing be practiced.

Now that I’m fully vaccinated, do I have to wear a mask while indoors?  Updated

Due to the recent surge in COVID cases, masking is once again required in indoor public spaces at GSE.

Can I eat indoors?

Eating and drinking among others remains one of the higher risk activities for disease transmission, especially indoors. Eating outdoors remains a preferable and safer option but eating indoors is not prohibited. If you choose to eat indoors, please maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing. Please minimize unmasked socializing while eating and drinking indoors.

Are air filtration systems in Penn GSE buildings efficient at capturing airborne viruses?

All Penn GSE buildings meet or exceed ASHRAE Standard 52.2 for MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filters. ASHRAE states that filters that are MERV 13 and above are efficient at capturing airborne viruses.

How will I be notified if I’ve been exposed to a confirmed COVID case?

If you are identified as having been exposed to a confirmed COVID case, you will be notified by a contact tracer.

What are the cleaning protocols for offices/desks/workspaces?

In addition to Penn’s Standard Operating Procedure, Housekeeping continues to maintain, clean, and disinfect in accordance with CDC guidelines. Penn Housekeeping uses a hospital-grade disinfectant when disinfecting buildings daily and has implemented a fluorescent marking system that allows them to verify cleaning techniques. For both faculty and staff offices/workspaces, housekeeping provides full cleaning and disinfecting weekly. Individuals are asked to disinfect their personal workspaces (i.e., keyboard, mouse, phone). 

Penn GSE provides extra disposable face masks, disinfectant wipes, and hand sanitizer throughout the buildings.

How should supervisors handle employee reports of COVID-19 exposure, diagnosis, and testing?

Please have the employee complete Penn OpenPass. This tool will provide the employee with public health guidance and connect them to clinical support; it will also trigger any necessary contact tracing, which will be conducted by professional contact tracers. Under no circumstances should supervisors conduct any outreach or contact tracing about reported exposures or diagnoses.

For questions, contact Emma Grigore (215-746 -3133; egrigore@upenn.edu).

What should I do if I have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?

You should fill out PennOpen Pass; if you answer the questions accordingly, you’ll get a red pass, and a clinician will call you to discuss your situation and likely set up testing. This process will also trigger any necessary contact tracing, which will be conducted by professional contact tracers. If you’re not feeling well, consider working remotely or taking a sick day if needed.

Note: If you can’t come to campus to work because you received a red pass, you are obligated to tell your supervisor that you received a red pass, but you are not obligated to disclose the suspected or confirmed COVID diagnosis.

Do Penn's health insurance carriers for faculty and staff cover testing and treatment for COVID-19?

Details about coverage related to COVID-19, including an important benefits update, can be found here. Highlights on Penn’s insurance coverage expansion include:

  • Coverage of COVID-19 testing
  • Coverage of treatment
  • Available telemedicine on demand (215-615-2222)

What support exists for staff dealing with external challenges?

The Penn Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24/7 and provides resources such as counseling and help with navigating the healthcare landscape for you and your family (including your parents).

 

Flexible Work Options

What type of flexible work options are available?

GSE is a place-based institution of higher education that values community, collaboration, and cooperation achieved through in-person engagement. A pilot period of partial remote/hybrid work may be considered, but the following may be considered for teams on a semester-by-semester basis:

  • At least four days on-site for student-facing roles
  • At least three days on-site for all other positions

Fully remote work is generally not permitted by the University (due to tax and legal implications) but may be considered on a case-by-case basis as reviewed by HR, the dean, and University committee. 

How can I reserve unoccupied offices and cubicles?

Faculty and staff can reserve unoccupied offices and cubicles on a daily basis using GSE Facilities’ online hoteling space reservation system.The room reservation system permits GSE faculty and staff to reserve spaces at 3700 Walnut, Stiteler Hall, and 3440 Market Street.

You can find links for the Hoteling Room Reservation system on the Facilities Services Room Reservations page here.

Regarding flexible work arrangements, how are “faculty or student-facing positions” defined?

Most staff in academic programs/divisions are defined as student and/or faculty facing. This typically includes Program Directors, Program Managers, Program Assistants, and Program Coordinators. Other student-facing roles include employees in the Office of Student Services, Career and Professional Development, Admissions, and other offices that regularly communicate with students.

Will I be able to work remotely if my child’s school is remote?

K–12 schools are expected to fully reopen by fall 2021. Exceptions to the flexible work options provided will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with the individual’s manager and GSE Human Resources.

What should I do if my child has to quarantine?

If possible, you should work/teach remotely. In addition, you should also fill out PennOpen Pass. If you cannot work/teach remotely, then you should use sick time or paid time off.

My department hires student and/or temporary workers. Are they eligible for flexible work options?

No. Penn leadership will require all student and temp workers to work on campus/on-site as of September 7th, with no remote options except on an as-needed, exceptional basis.

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Contact the Penn GSE Dean's Office

Diana Johnson
Executive Assistant, Dean's Office
215-898-7014

Emma Grigore
Chief People Officer
215-746-3133 

Eric Kaplan
Chief of Staff
215-573-9404

Matthew Hartley
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
215-898-8414

Raquel M. Arredondo
Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
215-898-5186

Lizzie Petela
Dean’s Office Coordinator
215-746-6885