Family Weekend will be held virtually this year, Penn announced in an email to students in early October.
Typically a time for families from all over the world to travel to campus and spend time with their Penn students, family weekend will not have any structured in-person programming this year. Instead, Penn will offer a “robust schedule of programs” held virtually on Oct. 29 through Oct. 31 across Penn’s schools and centers, according to the Family Weekend website. This is the second year the University will be holding the programming online, due to concerns of COVID-19 transmission.
Family Weekend will include both live and asynchronous Zoom webinars and BlueJeans conferences with speakers from the University. Each of the four undergraduate schools will also hold its own programming for families. Students were emailed invitations from their home schools with more information.
The weekend’s offerings include events such as “Eat Sleep Penn,” hosted by Residential and Hospitality Services, and “Global Opportunities at Penn” by Penn Abroad. Career Services and the Weingarten Learning Center will also host informational events. Penn Libraries will offer an asynchronous webinar entitled “Winning Customers in an Era of Endless Disruption,” which features Wharton professor Barbara Kahn.
College and Wharton sophomore Brendan Chapko’s parents, who reside in California, canceled their travel plans after Family Weekend was moved online. Chapko, a member of the cast of Penn’s Mask and Wig comedy troupe, said he found it “particularly upsetting” that Family Weekend was canceled, because his parents were going to fly in for the Mask and Wig show this weekend and stay for Family Weekend. The show will still be held in-person, though Chapko’s parents will not get to see him perform.
For some international students, the shift to virtual programming is advantageous for their families. Wharton first year Margaux Dacremont-Kobouloff’s mother, Sophie Koubouloff, said that COVID-19 travel restrictions and the challenges of international travel would have made an in-person weekend of events inaccessible for many families.
“Being from France and under the travel ban, online parents’ weekend is better for us… [it is] is a way to get something out of it versus nothing,” Koubouloff said.
Still, all of the events on Friday, which start at 11 a.m EST and end at 3 p.m, coincide with a parent’s typical workday, which will probably depress turnout, Nursing first year Jane Oyekan said.
Oyekan, who is from Maryland, added that a virtual Family Weekend is a logical decision because it protects families and students from COVID-19 and other illnesses on campus.
Kick-off for Family Weekend will be led by President Amy Gutmann at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29.