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01-15-21-dubois-high-rise-field-covid-testing-site-emily-xu

Students must be tested biweekly to meet the University's COVID-19 screening test policy.

Credit: Emily Xu

A total of 7,231 students are at risk of receiving red PennOpen Passes on Nov. 2 — barring them from many campus buildings — as a result of failing to comply with Penn's biweekly COVID-19 screening testing policy.

Students who have not received a COVID-19 test since Oct. 19 are in danger of receiving red passes and have until Oct. 30 to get tested, Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé told The Daily Pennsylvanian. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Paul Sniegowski sent an email to students in the College on Wednesday, writing that 1,549 of the 7,231 students are in the College, and will not be able to attend class until they receive a green pass.

"Instructors are under no obligation to accommodate students receiving noncompliant red passes with access to course materials for missed class sessions," Sniegowski wrote. "In addition, students missing class sessions due to noncompliant red passes are not entitled to make-ups of exams, quizzes, and other graded assessments that happen to fall during those missed classes."

While not all buildings require community members to show PennOpen Passes to enter, the number of buildings that do require PennOpen Passes for entry has "significantly increased" over the past week, Dubé said. Houston Hall and Van Pelt Library are among the buildings requiring PennOpen Passes for entry.

Last week, Penn issued over 9,000 red PennOpen Passes for noncompliance with the testing policy. The University did not, however, enforce full restrictions to campus buildings, instead allowing students an extra week to get their COVID-19 tests and receive a green pass. That decision was made in an effort to "not impede the academic mission, while also keeping everyone safe," Dubé said. He added, however, that a similar exception will not be made again.

"After last week, everyone understands how this policy works and should be aware of what they need to do," Dubé said. "Students have until Saturday to get their test and avoid having issues next week. Everyone needs to do their part to continue keeping our campus community safe."

The University also posted a schedule for the dates in which it will issue red passes to students who have not received a COVID-19 test in the two weeks prior. Following Nov. 2, the University will issue red passes every two weeks, on Nov. 16, Nov. 30, and Dec. 14, and the final days for which students can get tested in each of those periods are Nov. 13, Nov. 27, and Dec. 11, respectively.

Following the issuance of the 9,130 noncompliance red passes last week, students flocked to the COVID-19 testing centers. Penn tested 15,844 community members last week, the most of any week this semester. The University posted a 0.18% positivity rate for the week of Oct. 17 to Oct. 23, the lowest of the fall semester, which Dubé called "continued assurance that our policies are working." 

With the increased number of tests — many of which were unscheduled, as the testing centers allow walk-ins — Penn's COVID-19 testing results laboratory faced backlogs. The laboratory still published results in fewer than 24 hours, per usual, but Dubé urged students to schedule their tests ahead of time and not procrastinate until the end of the week, emphasizing that their actions have consequences on others at the school.

"All of these moving parts are tied together and one disruption has a lot of trickle-down effects," he said. "This is just something to remember moving forward and to really be mindful of others."

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