Faculty and staff who were not required to complete work in person this semester will not be required to return to campus until July 2021 at the earliest.
Penn will also continue to update faculty and staff on plans to return to in-person work, as well as the potential of returning to in-person classes in the fall and research projects, according an email from University administrators.
Provost Wendell Pritchett and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli sent an email to all faculty and staff on Monday afternoon, announcing a "full return to work on campus" will not come before July, but that the University expects to welcome more staff to campus in the coming months. It is too early to decide on a date for all faculty and staff to return to campus, they believe that the success of the PennOpen Pass system and other University health guidelines has created a path to return to in-person work, the administrators wrote.
“Circumstances surrounding COVID-19 transmission and the ongoing distribution of vaccines are changing rapidly, so it is still too early to decide on a date when faculty and staff will be expected to return to campus,” Pritchett and Carnaroli wrote.
Penn welcomed all undergraduates back to campus for the first time since March 2020 in Jan. 2021, opening all on-campus housing with majority of classes still being taught remotely. For two straight weeks, Penn's undergraduate COVID-19 positivity rate has declined by over 50%, from a peak of 4.47% between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 to 0.93% last week, the lowest weekly undergraduate positivity rate of the spring semester.
The University is also developing guidelines for remote work locations for staff, but in the meantime, staff members should reference the COVID-19 Return to Campus Guide, which outlines protocols for working on campus, the email read.
Over the past week, a number of other Pennsylvania colleges have laid out plans to return to in-person instruction. Penn State University announced it is planning for a full on-campus learning experience in fall 2021 on Feb. 24, and Temple University similarly announced its plans to hold primarily in-person classes this fall on March 1.
The majority of Penn faculty and staff transitioned to remote work in March 2020 after the University shut down campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thank you again for your extraordinary work in sustaining our campus mission,” the email read. “We look forward to providing more details in the months ahead about our shared return to life on campus.”