Pre-arrival and gateway testing for the start of the spring semester

Penn Today provides details on COVID-19 testing requirements for students, postdocs, faculty, and staff who are either enrolled in courses this spring or are coming to campus regularly.

COVID-testing tent on campus, a person is being directed by a volunteer which station to go to.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus surge and concerns about the omicron variant, the University has announced a delay to the resumption of in-person instruction and Move-In for the spring semester. 

To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus, public health measures in place this spring will include double-mask requirements in indoor spaces, PennOpen Pass, and a COVID-19 booster requirement for all eligible students, faculty, postdocs, and staff. 

Another key component of COVID-19 mitigation is the Penn Cares Testing Program. This includes pre-arrival and gateway testing which will help Penn quickly assess and minimize the introduction of COVID-19 on campus. 

Here, Penn Today provides details on the pre-arrival and gateway testing requirements for the upcoming semester.

Who is required to take a pre-arrival test? 

All students are required to complete pre-arrival testing 48 hours before returning to campus. Faculty, staff, and postdocs are also strongly encouraged to complete a test before returning to campus. A PCR test is preferred, but rapid tests are also acceptable. Those who receive a positive PCR test result, or who have had a positive test result during Winter Break, must email their result to and report their positive result through PennOpen Pass. Those who receive a positive rapid test result must report their result through PennOpen Pass.

Anyone with a positive pre-arrival test should complete isolation at home before arriving on campus. Negative test results do not need to be submitted to the University. Those who do not have access to a pre-arrival test should immediately test upon arrival on campus and quarantine until they receive a negative test result. 

Who is required to participate in gateway testing?

All Penn students, postdocs, faculty, and staff who are either enrolled in courses for the spring semester or are coming to campus regularly are required to take part in the gateway testing program, regardless of vaccination status.

Gateway testing must be completed through the Penn Cares testing system and must be completed upon return to campus and no later than January 31. Those who are arriving on campus after Jan. 31 should test on their day of arrival.

Testing during the remainder of the spring semester

Those who are not yet fully vaccinated or who have an approved religious or medical exemption from vaccination are required to test twice a week. 

Screening information for those who are fully vaccinated will be forthcoming, after initial positivity is assessed via pre-arrival and gateway testing. Visit the Penn Cares Testing Program page for more information.

Individuals who are exempt from screening testing include students, faculty, staff, and postdocs whose clinical rotations have taken them away from campus. In addition, members of the Penn community who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the past 90 days are also exempt. 

How can members of the Penn community schedule a COVID test? 

COVID-19 tests can be scheduled at For assistance on how scheduling a test, please refer to the tip sheet. Current test site hours and locations are listed here

Appointments are booked at 15-minute intervals on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who schedule their screening tests will receive text alerts and reminders for their appointment times.

At any time and regardless of vaccination status, all members of the Penn community have free access to COVID-19 testing through the Penn Cares program. 

What happens if a test comes back positive?  

In the event of a positive test, students, faculty, staff, and postdocs will receive a Red Pass and will be required to isolate or quarantine as instructed and to cooperate with University contact tracing efforts, even if fully vaccinated. 

What other public health guidelines are currently in place?

The University continues to update its guidance on COVID-19 and the spread of new variants such as omicron based on expert recommendations and guidance provided by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. For the latest information on safety measures and campus regulations, visit .