As we look ahead to a vibrant fall semester, with a full resumption of in-person teaching, research, and University operations, maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the entire Penn community remains our highest priority.
The single most important measure each of us can take to protect ourselves along with those on campus and in our surrounding communities is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With well-grounded confidence in the safety, effectiveness, and broad availability of COVID-19 vaccines, we previously announced that all students are required to be vaccinated for the fall semester with exemptions provided only for medical and religious reasons.
Today we are announcing that all current faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than August 1, 2021. Employees of Penn’s health schools must follow any additional school-specific guidelines.
In the next two weeks, we will launch a simple process in Workday for all employees and postdoctoral trainees to record their COVID-19 vaccination status securely and confidentially. Vaccinated faculty, staff, and postdocs should enter their vaccination information by July 1. When the process launches, you will receive step-by-step instructions and reminders on how to complete this task in Workday. New hires and those vaccinated after July 1 should update their record as soon as possible.
Effective July 1, individuals who have recorded being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in their Workday record will be exempt from regular Penn Cares screening testing. Individuals who report their vaccination status after July 1 will be exempt thereafter. Penn Cares testing remains a highly effective public health tool on campus. We thank those of you who have been participating diligently throughout the fall, spring, and early summer semesters.
We recognize that some individuals will choose not to obtain vaccines for medical and religious reasons, and some may choose not to disclose their vaccine status. Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral trainees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to continue to participate in daily symptom checks on PennOpen Pass and weekly Penn Cares screening testing, as well as to continue to wear masks indoors.
There is clear evidence that vaccines are both safe and highly effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19. More than 1.7 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide and half of the adult population in the U.S. are vaccinated. The protection provided by the vaccines is proven to be very high. Unvaccinated individuals, however, still have a high COVID-19 case rate.
COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available through most retail pharmacy chains such as CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. You can also visit vaccines.gov to find a location near you or use a link on your Green PennOpen Pass to call the Penn Medicine COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling Hotline for assistance.
Other safety measures
As we previously announced, for gatherings, classes, meetings, and returning to the office, we will follow the guidance of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The City of Philadelphia will lift physical distancing restrictions tomorrow, June 2. Accordingly, classrooms, labs, and other University spaces will be used at 100 percent capacity.
While requirements for mask use while outdoors on campus for those who are fully vaccinated were lifted last week, mask use has been shown to be an effective disease prevention tool. Eventually, mask use will not be required indoors, but it will remain an effective preventative measure, especially during cold and flu season.
Beginning July 1, use of PennOpen Pass will be required just for employees who have not reported their vaccine status. PennOpen Pass will support testing compliance and daily symptom checking for those individuals, but it will no longer be used to enter campus buildings. Vaccinated individuals should expect to return to pre-pandemic conditions while on campus. We are actively evaluating when we can phase out other campus health measures instituted in the wake of the pandemic. These timetables will depend upon the widespread vaccination of our employees.
For more than a year, we have all worked tirelessly to fulfill our mission of delivering exceptional education and research, while keeping the Penn community and those around us safe from illness. We have followed the science and the guidelines established by federal, state, and local authorities. Vaccines have proven to be safe and highly effective in preventing hospitalizations, death, and the spread of the virus. Getting vaccinated and recording your vaccination status are the next and most critical steps in our collective efforts to end this crisis and return to normalcy.
We look forward to seeing you on campus very soon.