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The fall 2020 semester proceedings will depend on Penn’s capacity for testing, contact tracing, and isolation of COVID-19 positive individuals.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn is planning for a combination of in-class and virtual learning for fall 2020 depending on the coronavirus pandemic in the upcoming months.

Penn President Amy Gutmann wrote in an email to the Penn community on Monday that the University has established a Recovery Planning Group to determine when students will be able to return to campus. The possibility of conducting a combination of in-person and virtual classes, particularly for large lectures, and other scenarios for the fall semester depends on Penn’s capacity for testing, contact tracing, and isolation of COVID-19 positive individuals, Gutmann wrote.

Penn is also looking to maximize single bedroom living for students, the email read.

“In-person engagement is a critical part of what we do. We are a community of scholars, where students and faculty creatively interact in our classrooms and labs on what is one of the most vibrant and remarkable campuses on earth,” Gutmann wrote. “We are committed to finding the best ways to bring everyone back together on our campus.”

Gutmann wrote that as it is too early to determine exactly how or when on-campus learning can resume, Penn will have to be creative and flexible in how professors conduct classes and engage with students until a vaccine is developed. 

Harvard University announced earlier on Monday that it will resume teaching and research in fall 2020, ruling out the possibility of a delayed opening until spring 2021. Both Harvard and Penn, however, have yet to determine whether classes will be remote or on campus this fall.

“We will know more in the weeks ahead as we monitor disease activity and explore answers to critically important questions around testing and tracing,” Gutmann wrote.

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