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The University will expand in-person research opportunities for undergraduates in the upcoming semester. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Penn will extend the pass/fail grading policy for undergraduates and offer more in-person research opportunities in the spring 2021 semester.

These policies were implemented both to prepare for undergraduates returning to campus in the spring and in response to the academic challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, University leadership wrote in an email to the Penn community on Thursday afternoon

As in the fall and spring 2020 semesters, students will be able to opt-in to pass/fail grading until March 19 for any or all courses, including those that satisfy major or general education requirements. The deadline to change classes to pass/fail grading will not be extended, the email read.

In spring 2020, the pass/fail opt-in deadline was extended from April 13 to April 29, the last day of classes, following a student petition. More than 3,200 students petitioned again for Penn to push back the fall pass/fail opt-in deadline from Oct. 30 to the end of the semester this fall, but were unsuccessful. 

Students participating in independent studies, work study, and volunteer research experiences will be able to conduct research in person if their work cannot be completed remotely, according to the email.

Students will also be permitted to again participate in a virtual "shopping period" on Canvas through Feb. 2, where they can access courses' Canvas sites through the course description on PennInTouch.

Although COVID-19 cases are steadily increasing in Pennsylvania, the spring semester will begin on Jan. 20, one week later than originally scheduled, with all students invited back to campus. Those who return will be housed in private bedrooms with no more than six students sharing the same bathroom. 

Students will be required to complete daily symptoms checks and be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. COVID-19 vaccines will eventually be provided free of charge to students, faculty, and staff.

"We are thrilled to welcome many more students to campus next month," the email read.

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