Five things to know about COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester

In an effort to keep everyone within the Penn community well, Benoit Dubé, Penn’s chief wellness officer, says it is critical that the University community adhere to the recommended public health guidelines.

People walking on campus, some with face coverings, some without.

As the Penn community begins the fall semester, with new students and those returning to campus, Wellness at Penn wants to make sure everyone has the most up-to-date information on protocols related to COVID-19.

Partnering with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Benoit Dubé, Penn’s chief wellness officer, gives five takeaways about COVID-19 protocols for the University community.


If you test positive at home, you are encouraged to report your positive test via email to or by phone at 215-898-0300 for additional guidance, assistance with clinical care, or advice about contact tracing and notification of close contacts.

Although mandatory screening testing has been discontinued, the University continues to offer testing for those who are symptomatic, have had an exposure, or for any other reason. The PennCares testing location is at 3734 Spruce St.

Everyone who is arriving on the Penn campus for the fall semester is strongly encouraged to self-test at home before arrival. Most U.S. health insurance companies will cover the cost of rapid COVID tests from local pharmacies.

PennOpen Pass is no longer being used as a public health tool by the University.

Quarantine and isolation guidance

Stay home when you are feeling sick or have tested positive with COVID-19. Staying home when sick is recommended for everyone, especially if you have a fever.

The University requires all students, faculty, staff, and postdocs—regardless of vaccination status--to isolate for five days after a positive COVID-19 test, followed by five days of strict mask use. During the five days of masking following isolation, individuals should eat alone, maintain social distancing, and avoid in-person meetings when able.

Per the recent update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding quarantine guidance, all individuals who have a high-risk exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, should test immediately and then again five days after exposure. They should continue to monitor for symptoms and wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask for 10 days post-exposure. If symptoms present, they should test immediately.

Masking requirement

Masking is only required in health care facilities on campus, as well as in all Penn Medicine locations.

As classes begin on Aug. 30, instructors have the option of requiring masking in their classrooms and teaching spaces and should communicate that requirement in their course syllabus.

Masks are recommended in indoor public settings for individuals with underlying medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe disease. Masks are always welcomed and encouraged for personal use.

Vaccination and boosters

Make sure you’re up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations. This means you have received your primary vaccination series, in addition to all recommended booster shots based on your age and personal health history.

Students are required to be fully up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including the COVID-19 booster shot, and must submit documentation of vaccination to their Wellness Portal.

Faculty, staff, and postdocs are required to receive the primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine (two doses of mRNA vaccine or one dose of Johnson & Johnson), and are strongly encouraged to be boosted. Faculty, staff, and postdocs should upload their vaccine information into Workday.

Follow the University’s public health guidance

The University’s comprehensive FAQs are your best resource for any questions, and the site will continue to be updated throughout the semester. UPHS-affiliated faculty and staff should follow specific guidance from the Health System. As the semester progresses, Wellness at Penn will continue to consult across the community, remain prepared for any future circumstances, and follow guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the CDC.