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Penn extends the deadline to upload the COVID-19 booster vaccination information to Mar. 14. Credit: Jesse Zhang

Penn extends the deadline for community members to upload their COVID-19 booster vaccination or risk facing screening testing twice each week.

To ensure eligible community members meet the booster requirement — which was first announced on Dec. 21 — Interim Provost Beth Winkelstein, Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, and Executive Vice President for the Health System J. Larry Jameson wrote in a Mar. 1 email that the University will extend the deadline to Mar. 14 for those who are eligible for a booster shot to upload their information.

The announcement comes after the conclusion of a friendly competition to encourage undergraduates to complete three goals by the end of the month. If 95% or more students from any class year uploaded their booster shot and flu vaccine information and completed biweekly screening tests by Feb. 28, the class would receive $25,000 toward their Penn traditions. 

The University wrote that just over 60% of community members have reported their booster vaccine information, meaning no class fulfilled the three tasks needed to receive the prize money.

Regardless of the University’s continued push for improved compliance with uploading booster vaccination status, the campus-wide COVID-19 positivity rate remained relatively stable during the week from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26 at 1.17% — up slightly from 0.98% the week before. This week’s positivity rate remains the second lowest during the spring semester.

Among undergraduate students, the positivity rate slightly decreased, dropping below one percent for the first time this semester to 0.99% — down from 1.19% during the previous week.

Beginning Mar. 14, community members who have not yet uploaded their booster information will be required by the University to complete COVID-19 screening testing through Penn Cares twice each week. Currently, vaccinated students are required to participate in screening testing once every other week.

Community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days are exempt from screening testing but are required to continue reporting symptoms and exposures through PennOpen Pass.

Overall case count followed a similar steady trend, with a total of 88 community members testing positive during the week from Feb. 20 to Feb. 26, the second lowest case count of the semester — up slightly from 75 the previous week. Graduate students composed the majority of positive cases for the first time this semester with 46, more than double from last week's 22 positive tests.

The mostly stable campus-wide positivity rate and case count mirrors state-wide trends, which have seen the lowest on average daily case count in Pennsylvania since August. It also follows the University’s softening of the campus mask mandate since Feb. 22, in which administrators announced the measures requiring either double-masking or the use of a KN95, N95, or KF95 mask in campus building are now reversed.

The University wrote on the COVID-19 Dashboard that despite the double-masking lift and changes to COVID-19 guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all community members are still required to wear masks inside all campus buildings, in accordance with the City of Philadelphia’s “Mask Precautions” response level.

The number of students in isolation continues to decrease, reaching a semester low of 48 students during the week of Feb. 20 to Feb. 26 — down from 96 the week before and far below the semester high of 1,318 students in isolation during the week from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15.