Penn is seeing "worrisome trends" in the COVID-19 positivity rate on campus, according to top University administrators, who warned that campus-wide self-quarantine measures may be imposed as early as next week.
Students should interact only with others in their pods and continue to follow the Student Campus Compact COVID-19 guidelines, Provost Wendell Pritchett, Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, and Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé wrote in a Friday evening message to the Penn community. They warned students not to hold gatherings for the Super Bowl, which is set to take place this Sunday.
If trends do not reverse, the University will move to Alert Level 3: Safer at Home on the University's four-level alert system as early as next week, according to the message. The alert system guides the University's policies depending on the severity of the pandemic in the area.
Under Alert Level 3, all students must quarantine in their place of residence, all classes will be conducted remotely, and no public gatherings will be allowed. Only essential University staff will be allowed to travel to campus, and other faculty and staff will be asked to work from home whenever possible. Undergraduates must still be tested twice weekly, and faculty, staff, and graduate students who travel to campus must still be tested weekly.
Alert Level 3 may be triggered by evidence of significant community spread or significant increases in positive cases on campus, according to Penn's COVID-19 website.
The number of positive cases among undergraduates doubled in the last week of January from the week prior. From Jan. 24 to Jan. 30, Penn recorded 111 positive tests — up from 55 recorded the week before.
Greek life accounts for a "completely disproportionate" number of COVID-19 cases on campus, top administrators announced in meetings with Greek life leaders on Wednesday night. At the meetings, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tamara Greenfield King demanded that all fraternities and sororities stop holding in-person events.
Many first year students were reported to be holding parties in college houses just days after moving to campus in mid-January, directly violating Penn's COVID-19 guidelines.
"We have been sending students home for conduct not in line with the Student Campus Compact, and will continue to do so throughout the semester," the administrators wrote.
Penn is currently observing Alert Level 2: Heightened Awareness, which limits public gatherings and access to campus resources and requires that students follow public health guidelines, including wearing masks and washing hands.
"Remain vigilant — mask up, maintain a safe distance, wash your hands," the administrators wrote. "Don’t be the weakest link."