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Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Penn will extend spring break for one week and move all classes online beginning March 23 to the end of the spring semester, in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Provost Wendell Pritchett and President Amy Gutmann sent an email to the Penn community on Wednesday, instructing students who are off campus for spring break not to return. The email instructed students on campus to move out by March 15, adding that University staff will be available to help departing students. 

Pritchett and Gutmann wrote that the University will work with students who are currently off-campus to facilitate the return of their belongings. They added that the University will support students who receive financial aid during this transition.

Medical, Dental, Veterinary, and some Nursing students will continue their clinical rotations and will receive information with further instruction from their respective Deans, they wrote.

All on-campus activities will be limited, according to the email.

Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein wrote in an email to all teaching faculty on March 9 that Panopto is used for recording lectures, while Zoom and BlueJeans work best for discussion-based seminars.

Penn's plan to move classes online follows similar policies by other Ivy League universities


Peer institutions such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale announced classes will be conducted online after spring break. Harvard has asked students to move out of their dorms with a five-day’s notice and will move to virtual classes for the rest of the semester. Princeton and Yale will hold online classes until at least April 5, when they will reassess their coronavirus policies. 

Pritchett also announced Tuesday that all University-related international and domestic travel is banned until April 17, unless approved by the provost. All on-campus events with more than 100 people scheduled through April 17 must be postponed or canceled.

Pritchett's announcement follows the Pennsylvania Department of Health's report that a Montgomery County, Pa. resident, who tested positive for coronavirus, is being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The patient, a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cardiologist, is in critical condition, health officials announced on March 9.  

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization announced the coronavirus outbreak qualifies as a global pandemic because of its sustained transmission on six continents.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda announced last week that next month's Quaker Days events will be canceled. Quaker Days annually brings newly admitted students to Penn before making their final college decisions.

In an email sent to School of Arts and Sciences spring 2020 instructors on March 9, College Dean Steven Fluharty, College Dean Paul Sniegowski, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Beth Wenger, and Vice Dean for Professional and Liberal Education Nora Lewis urged teachers to "keep [online courses] simple" and to "use the Penn-recommended tools that [they] are most comfortable with to accomplish [their] course needs in the most straightforward way."

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