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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: Jan 08, 2021 12:41 pm

To ensure broad access to classes for all of our students and to ensure the health and safety of our community, classes and activities at Penn GSE will be offered remotely for the 2020–2021 academic year with some limited hybrid activities.

The following Frequently Asked Questions address our virtual approach to courses and research, student services, IT support, and other important areas of concern to students, faculty, and staff. For questions specific to an individual academic program, please contact your program manager. For more information on campus-wide services and programs, visit Penn’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources page.

This resource for the Penn GSE community is updated regularly. New and Updated indicate questions that have been added or updated within the past 48 hours.


Important Dates & Information for the 2020–2021 Academic Year

Can I access Penn GSE buildings and Penn’s campus?Updated

Unless you have an identified need to be on campus, we ask that you continue to work and study from home.

As you know, virtually all GSE classes will be online, as will meetings, student activities, speaker series, and community meetings. To ensure that we don’t exceed our 20% capacity occupancy limits, the GSE buildings will be open only to individuals who have authorized access.

Students with a specific reason to be in the GSE buildings must fill out this application. If you are granted access, you will need to follow all Penn and GSE protocols, including participating in Penn Cares testing, filling out a PennOpen Pass, signing up using our calendaring system, and abiding by the Penn Student Compact and social distancing and public health guidelines.

Essential staff, faculty (including emeritus faculty and other retirees), postdocs, and academic affiliates who are on campus for four or more hours each week throughout the semester must enroll in Penn Cares testing and schedule their first screening using the online scheduling application the first week they are on campus. Compliance will be monitored starting the week of January 18, 2021. After enrolling in Penn Cares screening, these individual must reserve a timeslot for using a GSE building and complete the steps outlined here.

GSE has erected a tent in the Social Sciences Quad between our buildings, where students can have a sheltered space to access campus Wi-Fi. As with those planning to visit anywhere else on campus, anyone working in the tent will need to use PennOpen

Pass and follow other elements of Penn’s Campus Compact.

More information for accessing the Penn campus is available on the Penn COVID-19 Response website.

Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this challenging time. We look forward to welcoming you back to our buildings when it is safe.

How can I stay connected with the Penn GSE community?

Penn GSE is known for its small classes and the accessibility of its world renowned-faculty. This remains true even as we all continue to learn and work remotely. Our faculty is committed to creating more one-on-one connections with you outside of the classroom. We will also make sure that you get to know your fellow students through both the classroom experience and virtual community-building. Some of those events will be within your program, but there will be a robust new series of virtual opportunities enabling you to engage with fellow students and unique opportunities to connect with GSE’s accomplished alumni network.

Our Office of Student Services will be creating individualized programming around wellness, personal and professional topics, and important global issues. Our Center for Professional Learning will be hosting Virtual Institutes starting this summer and this fall a series of “Deep Dive Workshops” on topics in education that will be free to enrolled students. Catalyst@ Penn GSE will be offering bootcamps, webinars, and workshops to supplement your learning.

Do I need a Penn Student ID (PennCard)? If so, how do I get one?

While we are operating remotely, most students will not need a PennCard, which is a Penn student ID. According to the University, the only students who would need a PennCard are those who will be on campus AND have needs that are specifically tied to the card, such as access to campus buildings, use of Penn transit services, and card-based payments (bursar account, dining, print labs).

For detailed instructions on how to obtain a PennCard, go to the PennCard page.

What modifications have been made to the Spring 2021 class schedule?

Spring classes will start on January 20 (rather than the original January 13 date), in alignment with the calendar announced by Penn. However, GSE will retain its spring break schedule for March 6–14. Classes will now end on May 11 (rather than the original May 5 date). Given the changing dates, we have extended the last doctoral final defense date for August 2021 graduates (without paying summer tuition) to May 21, 2021.

ALL GSE students and faculty will be bound by this schedule, NOT the spring schedule the university sent out.

Visit GSE’s Spring 2021 academic calendar for more information

What’s the status of the tuition rollback?

In August Dean Grossman announced that Penn GSE will be rolling back tuition by 3.75% (to last year’s tuition levels) for the 2020/2021 academic year, and the University announced a 10% reduction of the Penn General Fee for the Fall semester, which applies to most GSE students. Understandably, many of you have questions about what this means for your bills.

Ph.D. students have been sent an email with news about their bills. For Master’s and Ed.D. students, please read below:

December 16, 2020 update: All summer and fall credits have been processed and are reflected on the fall billing statement under “GSE COVID Relief Fund” and “COVID-19 Tuition Credit F20,” respectively. Credits for the Spring 2021 semester will be handled similar to Fall 2020; the details are still being worked out, but credits will not be issued before the Spring 2021 Drop/Add date.

Do the charges on my account currently reflect the reduced tuition? GSE is working with Student Financial Services (SFS) to adjust student bills to the new, lowered amounts.

When will I get my financial aid refund? Student refunds cannot be issued in their entirety until all charges are adjusted to reflect the tuition reduction announced by the Dean. GSE is working with SFS to adjust student bills to the new, lowered amounts. In the meantime, you can contact SFS at 215-898-1988 or to request an advance of up to $1,500 on the anticipated refund. SFS will issue an advance of up to $1,500 providing you have financial aid funds that will generate a credit for at least that amount after factoring in the tuition reduction.

I have already paid my bill in full. Will I get a credit or refund after the tuition is reduced? The tuition and fees reduction will be issued as a credit directly to your student billing account. Any amount by which the credit exceeds current charges would be refunded directly to you (e.g., a student with a $0 balance at the time of the credit would receive the entire credit as a refund). The credit will first go toward satisfying any current balance on your account, and you will be refunded the difference, if any. SFS will issue the refund within ten business days after the credit posts to your account. If you have not done so already, please enroll in Direct Deposit via Penn In Touch. International students without a U.S. bank account should contact SFS directly for guidance on how to receive a refund.

Whom can I contact for more information? Please contact Student Financial Services directly for assistance with loans, refunds, or advances by calling 215-898-1988 or emailing Due to extremely high call volume at SFS, you may need to try your call again if you do not get through at first. Please allow 2-3 business days for a response to email. If you have general questions about this credit or your financial you may GSE Admissions & Financial Aid at Please note: GSE Admissions & Financial Aid cannot issue refunds or advances.

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Academics, Virtual Learning & Research

Is there a Pass/Fail grading option for Spring 2021 GSE courses?

Penn GSE’s faculty approved allowing students to opt to take courses for Pass/Fail grades for the academic year 2020-21. Before electing this option, please consult with your program manager or faculty advisor. In some cases licensure, certification programs, and/or external fellowships may require grades. And keep in mind that historically the majority of Penn GSE students record As or Bs for most courses. Before petitioning to take Pass/Fail in a course, consider discussing your standing with your instructor. After the deadline, decisions on pass/fail cannot be changed for any reason.

Here are the details:

  • Courses with “Passing” grades now will be accepted towards all degrees conferred by GSE (M.S.Ed., M.Phil.Ed., Ed.D., Ph.D.).
  • In accordance with the university policy, this policy makes any grade of D or better a passing grade. 
  • A grade of “Pass” would have no impact on a student’s GPA. 
  • A failing grade would be factored in as a 0.0. 
  • Students who take classes for letter grades must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing and to graduate.
  • If you take all your courses Pass/Fail, you will be able to graduate, but you will not have a GPA.
  • Faculty do not know if a student takes a course Pass/Fail. 
  • Deadlines for Pass/Fail grading this spring will be announced later this semester.

How will classes be taught in Spring 2021?

Classes and activities will be offered virtually with some limited hybrid activities. No matter the mode of delivery, our faculty’s goal is to meet the learning objectives that are set out for the course. 

Here are some Tips for Maximizing Your Virtual Learning Experience. Also visit Penn’s Student FAQs for Taking Online Classes.

Will classes be held in a synchronous or asynchronous format?

We are encouraging all faculty to pursue a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous activities depending on the goals of their individual class sessions.

If my program has practicum or internship requirements, will I be able to fulfill these remotely?

Because these requirements vary by program, please contact your program manager.

How can I access library resources?

Penn Libraries has a phased plan for re-starting library services on campus. The goal is to provide the strongest possible support for research and teaching while protecting the health and safety of library staff and users. For details of the plan, visit the Phased Re-Start FAQ.

Even as the Libraries re-start services, they continue to provide extensive Virtual Support and digital resources. Contact Penn GSE’s Library Liaison, Patty Lynn (, with library-related questions and purchase suggestions. The Education Resources library guide can be a starting point for discovering library resources. The guide has a link to an appointment scheduler if you wish to meet online and have a Zoom introduction to library resources and services. Please consider bookmarking the guide.

How will I establish and maintain connections with faculty?

Faculty will continue to hold virtual office hours and be available to students just as they would if courses were in person.

Will I be able to participate in research?

Many students will conduct research virtually in collaboration with faculty. For details on Penn’s phased resumption of in-person research,  visit the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. GSE’s Research Resumption plan is available here.

How will I connect with students outside my program?

The Office of Student Services, Career and Professional Development Services, and program managers across divisions are working on a range of programming that will enable students to connect with others across the school.

How will exams be handled for online classes?

All exams will be held virtually. The format will be decided by each instructor individually in consultation with administration.

Can oral proposal and dissertation defenses take place virtually this summer and fall?

We are committed to ensuring that all defenses move forward.

  • For Ph.D. defenses: The University waived the requirement that most committee members must be physically present for doctoral defenses during Summer 2020 but has not yet made any announcements about Fall 2020. For more information, visit Dissertation Defense and Deposit Instructions for Spring and Summer Semester 2020.
  • For Ed.D. defenses: Penn GSE’s guidelines are as follows: The student, the chair, and the committee members are expected to be present at the oral proposal and final defense hearings. While it is preferable for a majority of the committee to be physically present, when circumstances arise to prevent this, participants may join virtually at the discretion of the chair. The dissertation chair must seek approval from the chair of the division responsible for the doctoral program holding the defense.

For additional details about defenses, we encourage you to communicate with your program manager and dissertation chair.

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Internet Connectivity & Technical Support

What are the technical requirements for participating in virtual learning?

Recommended hardware:

  • A computer running the current operating system (Windows 10 or MacOS 10.13/High Sierra or newer) or a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet. We do not recommend using an Apple iPad tablet.
  • A camera, microphone, and speakers. Note that these items might already be integrated into your computer.

Recommended internet connectivity: At least 5 Mbps of network connectivity. If a broadband internet connection, such as cable or DSL, is unavailable, a personal hotspot on a mobile device with a broadband connection might provide a suitable connection.

Is the GSE Computer Lab open?

If you have a specific reason you need to be in the GSE buildings, please follow the instructions outlined here: Can I access Penn GSE buildings and Penn’s campus?

For students who receive approval, the Computer Lab is open during business hours (9am–5pm, Monday–Friday). The number of available computers is reduced by half, and each station is situated to maintain social distancing. As outlined in the Student Campus Compact, students are expected to wear facial coverings, maintain 6 feet of distance, and use the in-room disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces, keyboards, and mice.

For campus Wi-FI access without entering a Penn GSE Building: GSE has erected a tent in the Social Sciences Quad between our buildings where student can have a sheltered space to access campus Wi-Fi. As with those planning to visit anywhere else on campus, anyone working in the tent will need to use PennOpen Pass, pass a COVID test, and follow other elements of Penn’s Campus Compact.

Is IT support available if I need help accessing classes online?

Yes. For computer or other technical problems related to virtual learning, visit Student IT Support. Additionally, you can contact Penn GSE IT here.

How do I sign up for a Zoom Pro account?

Penn is now offering Zoom Pro licenses to all students. You can access your account, which includes features like integrated Canvas, using your Penn email here

I don’t have enough Internet bandwidth for uninterrupted video conferencing. What should I do?

We understand that there will be glitches and challenges to using video conferencing for classes and meetings. We have asked instructors to be flexible with students who encounter technical difficulties and to provide alternative ways that students can access course content. If you have a weak Internet connection, please contact your instructor and program manager before your class begins to alert them to your situation.

Tip: Try to “mute” your video. To do this, click the video camera icon on the toolbar. By muting your own video, you might have sufficient bandwidth to be able to see the instructor, his or her shared screen, and the other students.

Tip: Try turning off video and using only the audio feature. To do this on BlueJeans, look at the audio-only settings for joining a BlueJeans meeting on your mobile phone. If you’re using Zoom, watch this video: Configuring Audio & Video on Zoom.

Tip: Try dialing in from your phone. Both BlueJeans and Zoom invitations include a dial-in option. If you cannot connect online, you can call this number, enter the provided code, and join your class by phone. If your instructor has only sent a link as a meeting invitation, please ask them to share the dial-in phone number. You can find a BlueJeans Premium local call-in number here.

What if I don't have Internet access at home?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Internet and mobile service providers are offering community assistance. Check with individual providers for details. If you’re still having trouble accessing the Internet, please contact Ann Tiao, or (215) 898-7019.

How can I access PennNet and network resources away from the University?

The University Client VPN provides secure remote access to PennNet. The University VPN service is designed to provide access to the campus network generally, so that students, faculty, and staff who are working off-campus can enjoy the same network experience from a remote location as they currently do while connected to AirPennNet or by plugging into a physical port on campus. View ISC’s guide on setting up the GlobalProtect Portal.

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Health & Well-being

Will I be able to get Student Health Insurance even if I’m not living in Philadelphia this fall?

Yes, but coverage can vary based on what country a student is living in. You can learn more at Student Health Services

Am I required to have Student Health Insurance even though I’m not attending classes in person?

Details on Penn’s insurance requirements for students can be found here.

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

If you are a student and currently live in the Philadelphia area, please contact Student Health Services (SHS) at (215) 746-3535, where you can speak with a nurse who will help screen your symptoms over the phone. For additional information on contacting SHS, go to “What if I become ill?” below. In addition, please report your suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to Ashlee Halbritter ( in Student Health Services and to Penn GSE Student Services at This information will not be shared with anyone else at GSE, but will be used to help retrace contacts and inform people who may have been in contact with you.

If you are a student and currently do not live in the Philadelphia area, please contact your local healthcare provider. In addition, please report your suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to Ashlee Halbritter ( in Student Health Services and to Penn GSE Student Services at This information will not be shared with anyone else at GSE, but will be used to help retrace contacts and inform people who may have been in contact with you.

What if I become ill?

If you become ill:

  • If you feel sick and it is not an emergency, you should contact Student Health Services at (215) 746-3535, where you can speak with a nurse who will help screen your symptoms over the phone. You can do this both during SHS’s normal business hours and after normal hours.
    • During normal business hours (Monday–Friday, 9:30am–4:30pm) call (215) 746-3535 and select option 3 to speak with a nurse. 
    • Outside of normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 4:30pm-9:30am; all day Saturday and Sunday), follow these instructions from the SHS website for after hours care: We always have a person who is on call to address urgent medical questions. For example, if you are not sure whether your symptoms should warrant an immediate visit to the Emergency Department of the hospital, the SHS on-call provider can help you figure out what to do. Simply call our main phone number (215) 746-3535 and select option 3.This will take you to an operator at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Ask the operator to give your information to the Student Health on-call provider. You should provide your name, date of birth, and call-back phone number. The SHS on-call provider will get back to you soon.
  • If you have the symptoms or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are not living in the region, please notify Ashlee Halbritter ( in Student Health Services, as well as Penn GSE Student Services at This information will not be shared with anyone else at GSE, but will be used to help retrace contacts and inform people who may have been in contact with you.
  • If you are ill and cannot attend class and/or participate in class activities, just inform your instructor that you are ill and cannot attend classes or complete coursework. No other information is required. If you report that you are ill with COVID-19, your program staff will either contact SHS or ask you to do so per the instructions above.

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 or 215-898-7019.

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

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Student Services, Work Study & Housing

What services are available to me as a student taking classes virtually?

Many University resources remain available to students and are currently providing adapted services at this time. Please visit the websites below for the most updated information on the remote services they currently provide:

Is Penn GSE’s Office of Career and Professional Development accepting appointments?

Yes. Until further notice, all Career and Professional Development appointments will be scheduled via Handshake, and all appointments will be conducted via BlueJeans. If you have questions, email Director Amy Benedict at Drop-in hours will not be held during this time.

Is Penn Dining open?

Penn Dining is open, but self-serve options such as salad bars will not be offered in campus dining facilities. Students will be offered take-out and pre-packaged meals, which can be pre-ordered. Consistent with government guidelines, we anticipate limited indoor and outdoor seating at dining facilities, and meals can be eaten in students’ rooms, designated small gathering spaces in College Houses, and other locations around campus 

For more information, including hours and locations, visit Penn Dining’s Hours of Operation During Coronavirus Emergency.

Are Penn escort services available?

Yes. Walking escorts are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, between 30th and 43rd streets and Market Street to Baltimore Avenue.

Walking escorts are also available for limited hours between 30th and 50th streets and Spring Garden Street to Woodland Avenue via the University’s partnership with the University District Ambassador Program.

Visit Penn Walking Escort Service page here for hours and more information. To request a walking escort, call 215-898-WALK(9255) or 511 (from a campus phone).

Are Penn shuttle services available?

Yes. Visit the following pages for information and schedules for the Grocery Shuttle Pilot Program, PennBus East and PennBus West, the Pennovation Works Shuttle, and Penn's on-demand Evening Shuttles and Penn Accessible Transit. Riders are encouraged to use the PennRides on Request mobile app to access Penn Transit's services.

Service response times may be longer than anticipated due to limited vehicle capacity and maintaining physical distancing on transit vehicles.

Important: In addition to the display of a valid institutional identification card, all Penn Transit riders are required to display a valid “green” PennOpen Pass in a manner consistent with the current protocols for building-entry on Penn’s campus and as a means of reducing the risks of COVID-19. Individuals who are not part of the University’s PennOpen Pass Program must either display their respective Institution’s valid Daily COVID Screening Pass or participate in a driver-conducted screening and offer their verbal attestations. Individuals who cannot display a "green pass" or respond “Yes” to any of the attestation criteria will not be allowed to ride in the vehicle.

Is Federal Work Study available to eligible students?

Yes, Federal Work Study is available to eligible students, but any Federal Work Study job will have to be able to be completed remotely.

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International Students

As an international student, can I live in the United States and take all my courses online?

According to the current guidance from the US Department of Homeland Security, international students can take a full online course load in Fall 2020 and remain in the United States.

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, or (215) 898-7019. 

How will Penn GSE accommodate students living across many different time zones?

We rearranged course schedules to make them compatible for students in far-away time zones. For example, classes are now offered Monday through Friday and during more hours in the day than usual. In addition, for programs serving international students, we asked faculty to schedule the synchronous portions of their classes in the mornings or evenings if at all possible.

I am an incoming PhD student. What will happen to my research apprenticeship?

Incoming PhD students will receive their package of tuition, stipend for their research apprenticeship, and health insurance (when applicable). The mechanics of how this stipend is issued will depend on each student’s individual circumstances.

I am an incoming international student but have not been able to obtain a visa for this spring. What should I do?

Because all courses will be conducted virtually, it is not necessary for you to obtain a visa to enroll in the Spring 2021 term. You will be able to complete your spring coursework from your home country.

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Penn GSE Staff & Faculty

Teaching & Working Remotely

Where can I get resources for teaching remotely?

If remote teaching activities are relatively new to you, we strongly urge you to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation (which can be done virtually or over the phone) with the Penn GSE IT team. They can also connect you with colleagues who can provide advice on adapting class activities to a virtual environment. Contact GSE IT Support.

We also have new information on One Penn GSE: one page on Teaching & Working Remotely and another specific to moving a course online quickly (Teaching Remotely) to help faculty with this transition. These pages include links to a number of resources.

 Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning is also providing remote trainings that focus on how to use Canvas, how to run your classroom remotely, and how to assess learning. You can sign up for these trainings here: Penn CTL Trainings

Penn’s library has resources that can address questions about Canvas at (Van Pelt Canvas Support). The following email address is the best way to get questions answered by library staff:

Where can I get resources for working remotely?

What is the process for arranging to pick up items from my office in one of the GSE buildings on campus?

To continue working remotely and effectively, we understand that some people may need additional items from their offices. With our community’s safety and well-being as our top priority, we need to make sure that we know who’s on campus and when.

Note: Beginning July 31st, you will be required to show your PennOpen Pass daily symptom checker to the security guard at 3700 Walnut before going into any GSE building. Even if you plan to enter 3440 Market, Solomon, or Stiteler Hall, you must go to 3700 first in order to show that you have completed the checklist and are symptom free.

If you need to pick up ONLY small items (mail, stationary, files, etc.):

If you need to pick up technical equipment and/or furniture (laptop/desktop, monitor, printer, chair, desk riser, etc.):

  • Please first fill out the GSE Onsite Tech/Furniture Pickup Request form.
    • Depending on your needs, the IT team might have to manage settings on their end and/or be present when you pick it up. 
  • Once you submit the form, an IT or Facilities team member will get back to you shortly to determine next steps.
    • Please do not go on campus until then.
  • Once a plan is confirmed with them, you can then use the GSE Space Calendly to choose an available time slot to pick up your item(s).

If you absolutely need to come at a specific time that is not available, please contact Emma Grigore at

We want to reiterate that all faculty and staff are expected to fully comply with the university’s workplace health and safety protocols. Listed below are the basic guidelines and there will be signage appropriate for the specific space you're in:

  • Wear a mask at all times, covering your nose and mouth
  • Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer as an alternative
  • Stay at least 6 feet from other people and avoid groups
  • Wipe surfaces down in your workspace before and after touching it with disinfectant provided onsite 

Before coming on campus, please fully review Penn's Workplace Resources for COVID-19 Control for details and updates. Thank you so much for your diligence and care.

How do I access IT support?

IT staff will continue to be available to support faculty and staff as they transition to virtual working and teaching.

  • Ticketing – the best way to get your needs met is to open a help request at The team will be monitoring tickets during this weekend and beyond, and will be available to respond.
  • Remote 1-on-1 assistance – we encourage you to schedule an appointment for remote assistance:

What can I do to prevent Zoombombing during my remote classes and meetings?

As more classes and meetings move to online platforms like Zoom, it's important to secure your room. “Zoombombing” occurs when uninvited guests show up in your session and present undesirable content to one or more participants. This can occur when Zoom URLs are shared publicly through social media and room permissions are unrestricted. Visit Penn GSE IT’s article “Zoom: Secure Your Room” here for steps you can take to keep your room secure.

How do I set up call forwarding on my office phone?

Follow these instructions for forwarding office calls to your home/cell phone or making sure that you can forward messages to your email account to listen to them:

You can configure your phone’s forwarding through the PennNet Phone Settings website.

  1. Log into with your PennKey.
  2. Click Features and Voice Mail.

Click on the yellow information buttons () on the page for more information on specific features.

To have your phone automatically forward to another line on specific days or times, set Call Forward All to schedule.

Can staff and faculty meet in person?

No. Every meeting should be moved to a virtual environment. Connect with the people whom you work with and create a plan for the best modes of communicating – whether it’s email, Teams, Slack, or BlueJeans, or other means. Please make sure that you have telephone lists to reach out to each other by phone. If you have specific needs, please reach out to the Penn GSE IT team with any questions.

What is the status of mail and package delivery at GSE’s buildings?

Mail is still being delivered to Penn GSE’s buildings. Please see the Penn GSE Facilities page for details on mail delivery at each Penn GSE building.

Are there any changes to IRB submission processing and protocols?

Yes. Please check the IRB Home Page for all updates related to COVID-19. Although the updated guidance largely applies to Penn Medicine, IRB recommends that other Penn researchers review the guidance for any procedures that may be prudent or necessary to ensure the safety of participants and research staff.

While working remotely, can I work adjusted hours?

If you need to adjust your working hours outside the traditional workday, please work with your supervisor and Emma Grigore (215-746-3133;

Can I come to campus to work?

It is Penn GSE’s expectation that the vast majority of faculty and staff will continue working from home until at least May. For staff, faculty, and students who need to physically report to work or have a strong preference to work on-site, we need to adhere to low occupancy restrictions, symptom-tracking through PennOpen Pass, and on-site safety measures. For this reason, we are requiring a three-step process for coming to work.

Penn GSE’s 3-Steps for Coming to Campus


Health, Business, and Human Resources

What should I do if a student tells me that they have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?

Please encourage the student to take the steps described in What should I do if I have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19?” above . In addition, please report the case to Ashlee Halbritter ( in Student Health Services and to Penn GSE Student Services at gse-oss@gse.upenn.eduNote: under absolutely no circumstances should you share this information with anyone else. 

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

Please follow the guidelines detailed in Penn’s COVID-19 FAQs for managers and the COVID-19 Guidance to Supervisors. In addition to following Penn’s guidelines, please also report the information to Emma Grigore (215-746-3133;

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

Please let Emma Grigore (215-746-3133; know if you have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19; this will be kept confidential, but will allow us to reach out to people who might have been exposed.

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)

Free home delivery from CVS pharmacy for prescription medication

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).

Where can I find up-to-date information on Penn Transportation and Parking services?

Visit Penn Transportation and Parking’s Coronavirus Information page for up-to-date information on operations and obtaining refunds on parking and SEPTA transit passes.

I had to cancel a trip or event. What should I do about airfare, hotel accommodations and contracts?

If you booked your airfare with World Travel, please call our dedicated agents at 1-888-641-9112 so that they can advise you on whether or not your tickets can be refunded. Some airlines may be willing to accommodate this request, but if not, you will most likely be given a travel credit (on file with the airline) to use in the next year. Keep in mind that you may be assessed additional fees when you rebook. You may also have the option to transfer the travel credit to another flyer, but additional fees may also be assessed.

If you booked your airfare on your own (through a personal travel agent or an online booking site), please contact the airline directly to learn of available options. The same fees as noted above may be assessed. An important note: if you booked on your own and have already been reimbursed through Concur, please be aware that any travel credits/vouchers given to you are for University/GSE-related business travel. These travel credits cannot be used for personal trips.

For hotel reservations, you might have the option to cancel the booking without incurring fees. Some hotels may assess a partial refund due to their policies. Please be sure to check with your individual hotel’s guest services to understand their full cancellation policy. If you have already paid for and have been personally reimbursed for a hotel reservation that has now been cancelled, please let Sam Frenkel know so that he can guide you through the steps to reimburse the University.

If Penn GSE contracted with another entity (hotel, conference space, meeting venue or other event vendors) for an event that is now cancelled, please reach out to Sam Frenkel and your Financial Administrator (Sherri, Liz or Leonor) so that they can review the contract and work with your vendor to discuss payments made and cancellations as per approved contracts.

For grants: if your event and associated travel accommodations on NIH and NSF grants have been cancelled and you are unable to get refunded, expenses must be charged to a non-grant account. Please contact Helen Mitchell-Sears and Sam Frenkel. If you have any other grant funding, please contact Helen and Sam to see if it would be possible to work with the funding agencies directly.

The Penn GSE Business Office is available to help! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions or to reach out for guidance.

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Contact the Penn GSE Dean's Office

Diana Johnson
Executive Assistant, Dean's Office

Emma Grigore
Chief People Officer

Eric Kaplan
Chief of Staff

Matthew Hartley
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Lizzie Petela 
Dean’s Office Coordinator