Penn confirmed that in-person classes will resume on Jan. 24, citing the decreasing campus COVID-19 positivity rate.
In an email sent to the Penn community on Thursday morning, Penn President Amy Gutmann, Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein, Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, and Executive Vice President for the Health System J. Larry Jameson pointed to indicators that the peak of the Omicron variant has passed, following a surge of cases in the region.
Nearly half of all undergraduate students have already participated in gateway testing, according to the email. Starting Feb. 1, fully vaccinated undergraduate and graduate students must be tested at least once every other week — a continuation of the fall semester policy. Administrators reiterated that all members of the Penn community should take a pre-arrival COVID-19 test before coming back to campus.
Additionally, administrators wrote in the email that the community should continue to use PennOpen Pass daily, and report any positive COVID-19 test received over winter break in the program. Those who tested positive over the break will be exempt from the testing requirement for 90 days after the date of the test.
Penn recently modified its isolation policy to match the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's five-day isolation recommendation followed by five days of masking. While Harvard University recently ended university-provided isolation housing, Penn will continue to provide it for now — administrators wrote in the email that they are in the process of identifying more potential places to house students who need to isolate.
However, the email wrote that in the event that the University runs out of isolation capacity, students may be required to isolate in place. Despite a declining positivity rate, the number of students in isolation continues to rise.
Keeping in line with the University's new requirement of double-masking or using a KN95 or N95 mask, the email wrote that surgical masks will be made widely available across campus.
As of Jan. 20, indoor gatherings hosted by student organizations or individuals are still not permitted.