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A Kite and Key tour on Sept. 30, 2019. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Kite and Key resumed in-person tours for prospective students on Sept. 8 after moving all tours online to limit the spread of COVID-19.

While there will still be optional virtual programming, Kite and Key and Penn Admissions said the return of in-person tours will help prospective students engage with the Penn community. Campus tours will be offered Monday through Friday, and be very similar to tours conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic. Students will not be allowed inside any buildings, however, including the Quad and Huntsman Hall, where tours used to stop. The tours will serve as stand-alone events with information sessions available virtually, instead of in person in Claudia Cohen Hall as in the past.

In-person tours will be offered most mornings at 10:15 a.m. and in the afternoons at 1:45 p.m., with a few midday tours available at 12 p.m. 

Prospective students coming to tour campus may only bring one guest with them. Both the prospective student and the guest must wear a face covering, attest to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, and practice physical distancing. Tour participants must also complete a health screening on PennOpen Campus, a version of PennOpen Pass for visitors, and receive a green pass.

Kite and Key President and College senior Steven Wren said he believes the in-person tours will be safe, especially because they are entirely outdoors.

“I’m just excited to get the ball rolling and show people what life at Penn is really like,” Wren said.

For prospective students who are unable to make it to campus, there is also in-depth programming available online. In addition to live virtual information sessions, there are live student-led virtual campus tours every Wednesday at 8 p.m. during which prospective students can watch a tour guide narrate a virtual campus tour and ask questions. There is also an interactive virtual tour that prospective students can take at any time. 

“As Penn resumed in-person experiences, the University, Admissions and Kite and Key members all agreed that it was important to resume safe, in-person ways for our prospective audiences to engage with Penn,” Director of Visit Experience in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions Thomas Bergstrom said. 

Virtual programming also extends Penn’s daily visit offerings beyond campus, making tours and information sessions more accessible to prospective students,  Bergstrom said. 

Kite and Key is hosting panels for prospective students to experience Penn virtually. One of these options is a series entitled "Digging Deeper Panels," which features Penn students from underrepresented backgrounds sharing their experiences at Penn. 

Another option for virtual programming is live student chats where prospective students can ask Kite and Key members questions about the University in a casual and intimate setting, Wren said. These meetings are held in small groups on Zoom. 

Tour guides are excited to return to in-person programming, with increased volume and frequency of tours. 

Kite and Key communications director and College junior Julia Fiedor said each tour guide will once again be conducting tours weekly instead of a few times per semester as they did during the pandemic. 

“Doing tours in person just has such a different feeling,” Fiedor said. “Going on these tours just makes you fall in love with Penn again every day.”