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Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said decreased positivity rate can be undone if students choose to travel next week.

Credit: Ana Glassman

Even as the University's COVID-19 positivity rate reached its lowest rate of the semester this week, Penn administrators stressed the importance of remaining cautious and avoiding travel next week.

Penn canceled spring break — which was originally scheduled from March 6 to March 14 — and replaced it with three Engagement Days throughout the semester and two Rest and Recharge days which will take place on March 10 and 11. Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé said that while this week's 0.32% undergraduate positivity rate is great news, students' hard work can be undone if they choose to travel next week.

“We can totally mess [this] up if we make bad decisions,” Dubé said. "We just want to remind people that while they’re disconnecting from school, they must remember not to disconnect from the public health guidance that has kept the numbers low for the past few weeks."

Undergraduates accounted for a total of 17 COVID-19 cases from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, down from 50 the previous week. This week marks the third straight week that the number of undergraduate cases has decreased by over 50%, making this week's undergraduate positivity rate as well as case count a semester low. 

The three-week-long decreasing trend follows an alarming uptick in early February, when the University considering implementing a campus-wide quarantine policy.

Given the low positivity rates as well as loosened Philadelphia city guidelines, the University has been able to reopen a number of University facilities at limited capacity, including Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, and plans to reopen indoor dining on March 8.

Dubé also said that Penn will be announcing a number of socially distant activities for students to participate in on campus and around the city next week, with more information to follow later this week.

“The temptation to travel and to leave for an extended weekend is absolutely omnipresent. But, we just hope that people will continue to make the same smart decisions they’ve been making these past few weeks,” Dubé said.