COVID-19 Guidelines & FAQ's

This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Summer/Fall 2021 COVID Communications

Dear Members of the SP2 Community,

As we plan for the end of the spring term, we are also preparing for the summer and fall semesters. I am proud of how our school community pivoted and adapted to online learning and to working remotely during the last 12 months. As access to the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more readily available, the return to in-person classes and campus life is possible. On March 16th, the University announced that we will be in-person in the fall; I want to provide you all with information about SP2’s plan for the Summer 2021 and Fall 2021. Our plan is as follows:

Summer I: Online classes

Summer II: 6 in-person and 2 online courses

New Student Orientation

  • MSW Advanced Standing Orientation: Thursday, July 1, 2021, Online
  • Fall Orientation: End of July 2021- August 2021, Hybrid programing, please see details here

Fall: In-person classes with limited online options.

Prior to the pandemic, SP2 offered a number of online courses in our DSW program, NPL-online program and a small number of MSW courses were also offered online. We plan to continue to offer these programs and course options online during the upcoming academic year.

For students enrolled in our traditional Masters programs and PhD program, we expect all students to be located in Philadelphia or the Tristate area in the fall. We recognize the challenges facing our international students as they work to obtain visas. We will provide online courses for incoming MSSP international students only, so that they do not experience any interruption in their coursework until they join us on campus. International students who are able to obtain a visa must attend in-person classes.

As stated by the University, staff and faculty are not expected to be on campus before July 1.

We will do our best to keep you informed of plans as they develop and as we receive new information. Students, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact your Program Director or the Office of Student Affairs. For staff and faculty, please reach out to our Office of Human Resources if you have questions.


Sara S. Bachman, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice

A Message to the Penn Community Regarding Plans for the Fall Semester from Amy Gutmann, President; Wendell Pritchett, Provost; and Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

Throughout the pandemic, protecting the health and safety of Penn faculty, staff and students and pivoting to the least restrictive ways of supporting our core educational, research, and clinical missions have been our primary considerations. This past year we were able to move with extraordinary speed to establish a virtual learning environment that was accessible and effective in delivering world-class instruction, and then in developing protocols, such as the Student Campus Compact, that allowed the safe return to some on-campus operations.

Now, as we look forward to the fall semester, we want to share our current thinking so that students, families, faculty and staff can begin to make plans. With the widespread distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine now underway, with projections of more ample supply in the several months ahead, and with the many safeguards we have been able to establish on campus, at this time we expect to be able to return to an in-person teaching, research and residential environment for the fall of 2021. This will include the return to campus of staff who have been working remotely during the pandemic.

Specific details regarding the fall semester are still being developed and will be shared with students, faculty, staff and parents in the coming weeks. It will be necessary to remain vigilant and flexible in our planning, as the pandemic could take unpredictable turns. But we are committed to a return to operations, to in-person research, and to an in-person living and learning experience for our students.

We are enormously grateful for the commitment and sacrifices that have been made by faculty and staff in seeing us through the most difficult days of the pandemic. During this time, we have learned a tremendous amount about the use of technology for the delivery of instruction. That knowledge makes possible complete access to course material for all students, including those who, for whatever reason, may not be able to be present on campus in the fall.

We are thrilled to be able to bring our academic community back together to continue our critically important missions of research, teaching, learning and patient care. While this has been a challenging time, it has also been an inspiring time of discovery and innovation. There is no greater example of this than the groundbreaking work of Penn faculty members Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó, which has proved instrumental in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, making possible a return to normalcy in our lives. We look forward to the fall with anticipation and hope for the next great discoveries to come out of Penn’s labs and new opportunities to learn, connect and grow here in Philadelphia.

Spring 2021 COVID Communications

SP2 will break from classes and field placement Saturday, March 6 – Sunday, March 14, 2021.

We urge you to use them to rest and recharge – relax, unplug, and take part in the virtual events of these three Engagement Days.  Your decisions impact the lives and health of your classmates and our West Philadelphia neighbors.

You are implored not to travel, and Penn will not provide COVID-19 testing documentation for travel this semester.

Thank you for your continued dedication to adhering to the public health guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the University. We are enormously grateful for your resilience and your commitment to keeping our community safe.

A message to graduate and professional students from Beth A. Winkelstein, Deputy Provost, Benoit Dubé, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer, and Mamta Motwani Accapadi, Vice Provost for University Life.

We are writing, now that the Quiet Period has ended, to thank you for a safe and successful start of the semester and to reaffirm our shared commitments for the coming weeks and months.

The Student Campus Compact remains in effect, as does public health guidance from Penn Cares and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, which requires masking, distancing, and handwashing. Students on and off campus must participate in screening testing and enroll in PennOpen Pass, our daily symptom management tool.

For the health and safety of our campus and West Philadelphia communities, you must continue to maintain your household and/or study pods. You may not visit friends in other residences, host parties, or attend large gatherings. All reports of such violations will be investigated by the Campus Compact Review Panel, with the potential for individual and group sanctions. The core concept of the post-Quiet Period phase is “more places, not more faces.”

Continued Vigilance: Virtual and Outdoors

All personal, social, student government, and club activity taking place virtually must remain virtual.

Seeing friends outdoors in small, masked, physically distanced groups, and eating takeaway meals, may continue, and we are pleased to be opening more opportunities to get food across campus in a careful and safe way.

We are beginning a process for student groups to request opportunities to host in-person events and meetings, indoors or outdoors. Only vetted, approved events will be allowed to take place in designated meeting rooms. The bar for approval will be set intentionally high, given the many steps necessary to ensure participants’ health and safety. To submit a request for an in-person activity (indoors or outdoors), please visit the Graduate Student Center website

Phased Indoor Openings on Campus

Athletics & Recreation
  • A pilot program to begin a gradual re-opening of the Pottruck Health & Fitness Center will allow small groups of students to use the facility on weekdays from 3 pm to 7 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Students will be allowed to reserve access for one hour on Floors 1 and 2. Eligibility in this pilot program will be determined in consultation with Campus Health, based on students’ demonstrated adherence to the Campus Compact. Eligible students will be invited to participate in the pilot via email. If successful, this pilot will lead to a phased reservation system for all students at Pottruck in the coming weeks.
  • Outdoor recreation hours will resume at the Franklin Field track. You can make reservations at the Campus Recreation website.
  • The Penn Park Farm will be open for recreational activities and scheduled, COVID-safe events. Students may also request time slots to host small, physically distanced gatherings.
  • Sansom Place East (SPE) will hold several virtual events. SPE residents who are interested in attending a program should contact their GA for more information.
Graduate Study Space
  • The Office of the Deputy Provost and the Graduate Student Center will be providing temporary study/relaxation space for graduate and professional students in the Ben Franklin Room on the 2nd floor of Houston Hall. This space will be available for graduate and professional students Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm, by reservation (1-5 days in advance) at the Graduate Student Center website.
Penn Libraries
  • Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center has opened limited seating for individual studyMonday-Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm and Fridays noon to 5 pm. All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to reserve seats (at least 12 hours in advance). You must comply with Penn’s COVID-19 testing protocols, showing your reservation and PennOpen Green Pass for entry. Learn more and make reservations at the Penn Libraries website.
Penn Dining
  • Only students with a Green PennOpen Pass will be allowed to enter Dining facilities. Students with a Red PennOpen Pass can follow instructions on the Penn Dining site
  • Sharing food remains a high-risk activity, necessitating a slow transition. Penn Dining has begun piloting 25% seating capacity at Starbucks in 1920 Commons, with reservations in the Penn Eats app.
  • Additional indoor dining options will be determined and communicated in the coming weeks.
Perelman Quadrangle will support essential functions
  • Campus testing sites in Houston Hall and Irvine Auditorium
  • Grab-and-go service in Houston Market and retail operations at Insomnia Cookies and University Copy Center
  • Penn Commons outdoor seating
  • Limited indoor meetings and activities (scheduled by administrative units and/or student groups), where approved through the review process described above.
Rest & Recharge

As a reminder, PhD and research master’s degree students will have three days off from classes and assignments in the coming weeks:

  • Friday, February 12
  • Tuesday, March 30
  • Monday, April 12

Professional students should check with your programs regarding plans for these days. If the days are available to you, we urge you to use them to rest and recharge – relax, unplug, and take part in the virtual events of these three Engagement Days.

Your decisions impact the lives and health of your classmates and our West Philadelphia neighbors. You are implored not to travel, and Penn will not provide COVID-19 testing documentation for travel this semester.

Thank you for your continued dedication to adhering to the public health guidance of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, and the University. We are enormously grateful for your resilience and your commitment to keeping our community safe.

A Message to the Penn Community

This past year has been fraught with many challenges – from a global pandemic that has forced unprecedented life changes, to the civil, political and racial unrest that is continuing to unfold. Despite all of this, we have been working collectively with our partners in Penn Medicine and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health to create an environment to bring the Penn community back together safely. We invite you to read this letter from Dr. Thomas Farley, Philadelphia Health Commissioner, about stopping the spread of COVID-19 on college campuses.

While life on campus will look much different than in years past, our collective commitment to inclusion, innovation and impact has not faltered. To help protect the Penn community and our neighbors across Philadelphia, the University has launched Penn Cares, our COVID-19 response program established to help thwart the spread of the disease. Please take a moment to watch this Welcome Video with more information about Penn Cares.

We all have a responsibility to do our part to ensure the success of Penn Cares and to think about the impact our decisions have on others, especially in our surrounding communities. We can help create a safe environment to live, learn and work by following the strict public health guidance we’ve instituted for those on and off campus, including masking, washing hands, remaining physically distant, staying home when sick, taking part in our robust screening testing program, and completing your daily PennOpen Pass symptom and exposure tracker.

The following are critical components of the Penn Cares program for students, faculty, postdocs and staff:

Penn Cares: Mask, Distance, Wash
Quiet Period

The University will observe a Quiet Period until February 1. All graduate and undergraduate students must abide by certain limitations on movement and activity for the collective good of our community.

PennOpen Pass

This is a daily symptom tracker and exposure reporting system designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the Penn community. Daily symptom checks and exposure reporting on PennOpen Pass are required for those on campus.

Public Health Guidance

These are actions the entire university community can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Working together and thinking about your behaviors and activities, and their effects on others, are critical to following these important steps.

Campus Compact and Principles of Responsible Conduct

The University has set behavioral expectations for activities while living, learning and working on campus.

Penn Cares: Test, Trace, Isolate
Student Testing and Faculty/Postdocs/Staff Testing

The Penn Cares comprehensive testing strategy, developed in partnership with Penn Medicine, uses three distinct channels: gateway (arrival to campus) testing for students living on and off campus; screening testing for students, faculty, postdocs and staff; and symptomatic and exposure-related testing for the Penn community. Comprehensive information about testing criteria, scheduling and results can be found at

Contact Tracing, Isolation and Quarantine Protocols for Students and for Faculty/Postdocs/Staff

If you test positive, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation are some of the many ways the University is helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within the Penn community.

Penn’s COVID-19 Dashboard

This is a report of the University’s collective COVID-19 testing results from across the Penn community.

Penn Cares: Connect, Reflect, Support

Wellness Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent civil unrest in our country have been stressful for all – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s important to make sure you are taking care of yourself while coping during these challenging times.

As we look to the future with an optimistic lens, we hope to have more information to share regarding vaccination. Vaccine distribution in Philadelphia is managed by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health in accordance with prioritization guidance from the National Academy of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For now, we’ve created a Student FAQ and a Faculty/Postdocs/Staff FAQ that will be updated with vaccine information as it is made available.

We wish you all a very happy, healthy 2021. Thank you for your continued partnership in and dedication to keeping our community healthy.

Hours of Operation:9:00AM –5:00PM, Monday through Friday

Main Support Areas
  • Penn Cares
    • Scheduling
    • Locations
    • Testing
    • Compliance
    • Exception Requests
    • Policy/Process Questions
  • Compliance/Conflict with rules during COVID
  • Testing Compliance Questions
  • How to enroll in PennOpenPass
  • Contact Tracing General Questions
Who Must Test
  • SP2 students who intend to come to campus each week during the spring semester must be tested once per week.  SP2 students who live in on-campus housing must be tested twice per week on selected day pairs of their choosing.
  • SP2 faculty, staff, and fellows who are regularly on campus for four or more hours each week throughout the entire semester must be tested once per week.

Who should NOT participate in Penn Cares Screening Testing:

  • Anyone who comes to campus less than once per week or is not enrolled in the Penn Cares screening protocol
  • These criteria have been established based on federal, state and local guidelines as well as in consultation with public health experts. They are subject to change.
Gateway Testing and the Quiet Period

Gateway testing, or day of arrival testing, is required of students only. This testing establishes the baseline prevalence of COVID-19. On the day of their arrival, students who are on-campus residents must drop off their belongings and report directly to a testing site. They must then return to their College House and quarantine until they receive their test results. Students who live off campus also must perform a gateway test as soon as they arrive, and no later than January 18.

From January 6 to 31, the University will observe a Quiet Period during which there will be no planned activities or large gatherings. The goal is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread in these first weeks together.

As soon as students take their gateway test, they should enroll in their regular testing schedule using the online scheduling application.

Faculty, postdocs, and staff who meet the testing criteria must enroll by January 18. This enrollment requirement is fulfilled when they schedule their first test.

Use of PennOpen Pass

Not everyone will return to campus or Philadelphia for the spring semester. For those who will continue to work remotely and do not fit the criteria to be on campus, the University still strongly encourages enrollment in PennOpen Pass. A Green Pass is required to enter University or Penn Medicine buildings or board Penn Transit, even for those who only occasionally make campus visits. Reporting symptoms or exposure in PennOpen Pass also expedites access to the clinical guidance of Penn Medicine clinicians, and diagnostic testing if necessary.

For More Information

More information on the process and the program is available on the Penn COVID-19 Response website.

Fall 2020 COVID Communications

Dear Members of the SP2 Community,

I am writing to follow up on the email sent earlier today by the President, Provost, and Executive Vice Presidents, to provide additional information about SP2’s plans for the Spring term.

Over the past several months SP2 and University staff have partnered to develop systems and policies to promote the health and well-being of everyone in our community, while also ensuring that each student and faculty member has the best pedagogical experience possible. Based on data we have gathered from faculty, we anticipate that similar to the Fall, most SP2 classes will be taught virtually while some smaller classes that can be accommodated in person will be conducted in suitably large spaces on campus. We will continue to work with faculty to enhance the online experience, and again will provide teaching assistants or course assistants. Students who will be on campus on a regular basis will be required to participate in the weekly COVID-19 testing program. More information about this program will be provided in the coming weeks.

For students who are in field placements, internships, or practica, thank you for your dedicated partnerships with individuals, groups, and organizations in the community. We will continue to collaborate with agencies to be sure you are practicing in a safe environment. I encourage everyone, regardless of what agency or institution you are serving, to participate in the PennOpen Pass program. This is a quick and efficient daily check of your symptoms, or exposure to others with symptoms, that will connect you with University specialists who can guide you to appropriate next steps if needed. If you are not already registered, please register with PennOpen pass at this link.

We will include a full week of Spring Break in our Spring semester, from March 8 through March 12, 2020. For MSW students who are in field placements during the spring term, we ask that you talk with your field supervisor about the timing of when you will take the equivalent of one week away, either during the week of Spring Break or at another time, and any related public health considerations that are relevant to the placement setting. For students who are in dual degree programs with other schools and our undergraduate sub-matriculant students, we will work closely with you and your external advising team to ensure that the overlap of SP2 courses and the final exam period is flexible and allows you the time needed to ensure your success. We ask that you follow University guidelines regarding student travel during the week of Spring Break, or any time you travel. Please refrain from extended travel that could put you or others at risk during this time. Andrea Porter, our Registrar, will distribute an updated spring schedule soon.

We are pleased at SP2 to extend our COVID credits to tuition for the Spring term, thus maintaining our tuition at the same amount as academic year 2019-20. Student Financial Services will issue the tuition credits to your bill after the drop/add period ends. The COVID credits for the General Fee, however, will not be repeating for the Spring term. The General Fee is a University cost, and is assessed to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to directly fund Penn’s non-instructional student support services. The General Fee for full-time students provides access to a wide variety of services and resources, including counseling and wellness, multicultural resource centers, student activities, recreation and fitness, career services, learning support, and much more.

Since March, our faculty, students, and staff have demonstrated incredible grit, determination, and resilience in pursuing our mission during exceedingly uncertain and difficult times. I am proud of all that our SP2 community has accomplished, and all that I know you will continue to contribute in the coming months. We remain committed to making the Spring term one that prepares our students well as professionals in social work, social policy, nonprofit leadership, social welfare and clinical social work, or their chosen field. We will continue to make our way through this challenging time by being kind to one another, supporting one another, and acknowledging that we share a vision for the passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact, and justice in our communities and in our world.

Sally Bachman

Sara S. Bachman, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice
University of Pennsylvania
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Good afternoon SP2 Community,

This afternoon, the University shared planning details for the spring 2021 (please see below). SP2 will be following their lead and adopting the revised advanced registration dates, new term start date, and condensed spring break. We will communicate specifics for SP2’s spring 2021 calendar and courses in the coming weeks. As we work to solidify our plans for the spring semester please know that the safety and health of  the SP2 community is our top priority.

Be kind, be well, be safe.

Andrea M. Porter, M.L.A.
(she, her & hers)
Director of Student Information / Registrar
School of Social Policy and Practice


COVID-19 Response Update

Looking Ahead to the Spring Semester

A Message from
Amy Gutmann, President
Wendell Pritchett, Provost
Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

We are enormously grateful to our students, faculty and staff for the outstanding start to the fall semester. Our Penn community has risen to the challenge of these unusual circumstances, finding new ways of learning, working, and talking together in an online environment as we navigate through this worldwide pandemic.

Looking ahead to the spring semester, the University continues to closely monitor developments related to the pandemic. We are regularly consulting with city, state, and federal agencies as well as our world-class health system in assessing options through multiple committees and working groups.  Although we will be back in touch with you by mid-November with more comprehensive details about our plans for the spring, we write today to share with you several important changes to our calendar to facilitate planning for students and families.

The spring semester will start one week later, on January 20. If we are able to welcome students to campus, move-in would be on or about January 10.  To provide a maximum amount of time for scheduling, we are also moving Advance Registration for the spring semester to November 30-December 7. This change will enable our students and faculty to have as much information as possible, before the last day of classes, when making decisions about spring term courses. Exams will end on December 22 as previously scheduled. Despite the later start to the spring semester, we will be able to preserve a shortened spring break on March 10-11, held on a Wednesday and Thursday to discourage travel during the pandemic. Professional programs may deviate from this schedule.

The limited number of students on campus this fall has allowed us to set up testing and tracing systems that have operated effectively. The responsible behavior of the vast majority of our students living both on and off campus has led to a low positivity rate consistently below 2% (the World Health Organization recommends positivity rates remain below 5%). You can see the most current data at our Coronavirus Dashboard. To be able to bring all students back to campus in the spring, we would need the capacity to do regular testing on a very wide scale. Penn Medicine is working hard to help us build that capacity. But massive testing alone will not be enough to allow a successful return to campus. Students must adhere to the Student Campus Compact, which requires a disciplined respect for physical distancing, facial coverings, and limited group gatherings. We urge all students and families to be familiar with its requirements.

To help us learn more, in real time, about how we can continue to enhance and optimize our student experiences during this challenging time, we also plan to launch a Student Survey in mid-October. This survey will include every undergraduate, graduate, and professional student. Students, please look for an email this month with your personal and confidential survey link.

As we continue to work on plans for the spring, please know how much we appreciate your extraordinary commitment to our educational mission. We will keep you updated as events move forward and we are able to make final decisions regarding the spring semester.

Dear SP2 Community,

A message was sent yesterday afternoon to the entire University of Pennsylvania community regarding undergraduate students, housing, tuition, and fees this coming Fall Semester. Due to COVID-19 continuing to spread at an alarming rate, the University has made the important decision to revise its plans for the coming months.

Among the most significant changes we’ve just received word of, the University of Pennsylvania has noted that “with only very limited exceptions for international students and those students dealing with significant housing or personal hardships, we will not be able to accommodate undergraduate students in University housing.”

As well, the message from President Amy Gutmann, Provost Wendell Pritchett, and others specified that tuition would be frozen at last year’s rate, “and the General Fee will be reduced for the fall semester by 10%. Housing and dining fees that have been paid by students will be credited or refunded in full, consistent with the methodology used in the Spring.”

Senior leadership at SP2 has been in regular contact through the summer with central Penn leadership about our own graduate tuition growth, as we know it has been a concern of many of our students. We have been working hard, reviewing our budget during this challenging time to see how we can best aid our students while maintaining a world-class program here at SP2. Historically, our tuition growth rate has been lower than other schools at Penn, including the undergraduate schools. We will continue that commitment this Fall by adjusting tuition bills so there will be no increase and tuition will be set at last year’s tuition charges.

We are working with the central office of Student Registration & Financial Services (SRFS) to ensure this change does not negatively impact student financial aid packages. Please note that SP2 scholarship funding will not be reduced and students will receive their full SP2 scholarship awards, up to the amount of the reduced tuition. Additionally, this change in tuition will not affect student loan eligibility or aid packages in terms of living expenses that students will receive. If students have already paid the full tuition bill, they will receive a refund of that difference from Student Financial Services.

If a student has a Graduate Assistantship contract already signed with Student Housing, it is our understanding that the contract will be honored and students will be able to move into Penn Housing. If students have not yet signed a contract or have a question about current housing situations, please contact Student Housing directly as shown on the contract.

Details on when the adjustments will be reflected on student accounts will be distributed as soon as that information is available. All of the answers are not immediately clear at this juncture, but please know that we are working diligently to make sure we can share all of the pertinent and pressing information as soon as we can. We understand that time is of the essence and the matters at hand are quite significant for our students and entire School and expect to have more updates as soon as they are available.

We remain committed to making the Fall term one that prepares you well as professionals in social work, social policy, nonprofit leadership, social welfare, and clinical social work, or your chosen field. We will get through this together by being kind to one another, supporting one another, and acknowledging that we each have a shared vision of the passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact, and justice in our communities and in our world.


Sally Bachman

Graduate and Professional Students –

I write today as follow up to the community message from June 25 with some important additional details relevant to graduate and professional students specifically.  First, please be reminded to check out Penn’s Fall Semester Planning website for updated information and FAQs for students and related to health and safety and research resumption. As the pandemic continues to progress, we continue to put plans in place that to the best of our ability protect the health and safety of our students, and also to provide the highest level of education to all of our students. Many faculty, staff and students have been involved in putting together programs to help support our educational mission and your academic and personal success. And it is up to all of us to do our part to be vigilant regarding responsible behaviors, contact tracing and testing. Here I provide you some information related to those topics.

While graduate and professional instruction will take place largely online this Fall, we are providing requirements in person where it is essential to have an in-person experience in order to meet curricular and/or pedagogical requirements. Examples include lab requirements, clinical experiences, studio classes, etc. First-year international students can get a support letter from their academic program to confirm that they are attending a hybrid program in Fall 2020.  Please see additional information on the International Student & Scholar Services website.

You should review the Student Campus Compact which applies to all Penn students in Philadelphia, regardless of whether you are living on or off campus, and will be strictly enforced. I am grateful to the many graduate student groups who have already met with colleagues in Wellness to partner with ensuring this message is shared with their constituencies. Please also note, that if you are uncomfortable with the requirements of the Compact, you should not return to campus.

Many of you are already returning to campus under your school’s Research Resumption plan or for clinical requirements, and others of you may be preparing to return for some in-person cohort activities in your academic program. If you are in either of those groups be on the look-out for communications either from the Wellness team, your program or my office about arranging time for your COVID-19 test. This will be provided free-of-charge to those approved to be on-campus.

And, as we are hearing questions from students on-campus, I wanted to remind you of several key points related to testing that can also be found in the FAQs related to the Compact.  University COVID-19 testing and notification protocols have been designed to protect individual student privacy while simultaneously safeguarding the Penn community:

  • Students who test positive for COVID-19 are covered by HIPAA and FERPA regulations. Campus Health will follow up with any student who tests positive to ensure the student self-isolates and gets the healthcare needed.
  • Campus Health will also conduct contact tracing without identifying the student source and will advise other students who have had high-risk exposure.
  • Penn’s Department of Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS) and the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) are responsible for contacting staff and faculty with high-risk exposure, again without identifying the COVID-positive student.
  • Students in quarantine or isolation will receive continued care and support from Student Health Service (SHS) and CAPS clinicians as needed or requested. Please remember that you are not in trouble for being sick or exposed.

There are additional protocols in place for students who have in-person academic requirements in clinical or field placement settings. Contact tracers will coordinate patient outreach with the school if a student in a clinical setting tests positive and has had recent patient interactions. Students in field placements will be required to report their COVID-19 status to the local health department where the field placement is located; the Philadelphia Department of Health can help coordinate this communication.

Any student with concerns about exposure to COVID-19 should contact SHS. Notification of illness and participation in contact tracing efforts is one of the top ways students can help support the health and safety of the Penn Community.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge that this is a very challenging time, especially for students, like you, who are involved in academic training, have professional concerns, are caring for family, and are navigating the many challenges facing us today. I am continuing to review and develop mechanisms of support that are responsive to this very unique moment. I will keep you updated as details become available.

Be well,

Beth A. Winkelstein, PhD
Deputy Provost

Dear SP2 Students,

We hope you and your loved are well during this time. As we get closer to the beginning of the Fall term in the midst of COVID-19, we recognize that many of you are in the process of reimagining your expectations for fall semester, and for some of you that comes with some sense of loss and disruption. COVID-19 has made us lose our sense of health security and for many, economic security as well. However, SP2 remains optimistic. It is essential. As social change agents we must remain flexible and resilient because the communities that we serve depend on it. Thus far, 2020 and the fall semester specifically promise to be one of the most important times in recent history for an education at SP2. We want to acknowledge to each of you how critical it is to us personally that each of you has a successful semester at SP2.

The faculty and staff at SP2 have been working hard to prepare for the Fall semester, collaborating with the University to provide you with an exceptional virtual or in-person experience beginning this September. While things remain uncertain related to the path COVID-19 will take in the United States and throughout the world, what does remain certain is that our graduates will have a tremendous amount of work to do not only during the pandemic, but also as we recover from the devastating impact of the virus, and continue to push for racial justice.

Specifically, we want you to know that a group of about 20 faculty and staff have been meeting weekly since May to review the status of Fall preparations, share their findings with the many University workgroups that have engaged hundreds of people, and prepare for all that is needed to make the Fall semester a successful one for you. These discussions have led to increased faculty training in the virtual classroom, not only on the use of the technology as they deliver a high quality educational experience, but also including the importance of building and retaining community in the classroom. Nicole Auge, our Online Learning Coordinator, has met with faculty both individually and in groups to prepare faculty for the best use of technology in the classroom. Some faculty have supplemented that with additional classes at Penn’s Center for Technology and Learning to reinforce the best practices learned for virtual and hybrid learning. To assist faculty in the classroom, teaching assistants including DSW students, PhD students, other instructors, and alumni have been hired to assist faculty with classes of at least 10 students to support you and the faculty member. Similarly, we are working with field placement and internship agencies to assure the continued success of our students as they gain experience in the delivery of services.

So that we can continue to support students in a virtual environment, staff are working on ways to be easily accessible in the virtual environment, with many holding weekly “office hours,” where students can virtually drop in and ask questions. Our IT Department has trained many of our faculty and staff on Calendly, a software device that allows for easy meeting scheduling, without the nuisance of back-and-forth emails. We have been working with the Penn Bookstore to access digital downloads of books when they are available, and hard copy textbooks can be shipped to students free of charge. For those students that are on campus, PennOpen Pass will be used as a self-monitoring tool, and will display a green “pass” that will be completed daily, and if green will allow access to other University buildings or directions to get further assistance if the screen is red. All students on campus will be tested for COVID-19. While classes will not be held in the Caster building this Fall, all buildings on campus are being tested for air quality and circulation standards, and additional sanitizing stations are being place strategically throughout the campus. Sanitizing wipes will be strategically located outside classrooms so students and faculty can wipe down desks or other surfaces at the end of class and before class. All students coming to campus should read the Student Compact, agreeing to physical distancing and other safety measures. This is just a sample of the many preparations that are underway as we prepare for the Fall term.  There is much more information on the Fall 2020 portion of our website, including FAQ’s, recent correspondence from the University, and the work-in-progress report of the SP2 COVID Recovery Workgroup.

While uncertainty remains and we are aware that anything can change between now and the beginning or end of the Fall term, we want you to know that we are committed to making the Fall term one that prepares you well as professionals in social work, social policy, nonprofit leadership, social welfare and clinical social work, or your chosen field. We will get through this together by being kind to one another, supporting one another, and acknowledging that we each have a shared vision of the passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact, and justice in our communities and in our world.

Jenn and Sally
Jennifer J. Clinkscales, DSW, LCSW
(she, her & hers)
Associate Dean of Student Affairs
MSW Academic Advisor
Caster Building, B23
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-5895
Fax: 215-537-2099
Mission Statement:
Fall 2020: Student Campus Compact

Sara S. Bachman, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice
University of Pennsylvania
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Dear SP2 Community,

As we approach the start of the Fall semester, the University and SP2 teams are working hard to prepare for a return to in-person and virtual classes. As communicated in the recent message from University leadership, we all have a communal responsibility to preserve the health of our community, while sustaining our commitments to teaching, learning, research, and service. With that in mind, we are launching PennOpen Pass at the School of Social Policy & Practice, beginning Monday, July 27, 2020.

PennOpen Pass is a daily symptom checker to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the Penn community. Daily tracking is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community as it will enable clinical staff and contact tracers to act quickly if COVID-19 is detected and help to expediently connect individuals to care.

Anyone that will be on campus, even just occasionally, is required to register for PennOpenn Pass, and is asked to perform the symptom checks each day, regardless of whether they are reporting to campus on that day. The daily process takes on average 17 seconds to complete and we encourage everyone in the SP2 community to participate. To enroll, please follow the steps outlined in the PennOpen Pass document.

Users will be asked a few yes or no questions, and if they have no symptoms, and have not been in recent contact with someone who may have COVID-19, they will receive a Day Pass to enter Penn buildings. Otherwise, the tool will direct the user to the appropriate next steps. Please know that the University is committed to protecting your privacy, and the PennOpen Pass Privacy Statement is available for your review online. If you have any questions or concerns about the PennOpen Pass program, please visit the program FAQ page.

We are consistently updating the FAQ’s on the SP2 website to bring you the most up-to-date information, which you can find here. In addition, many answers to general University-related questions can be found here.

Penn and SP2 continue to monitor the daily impact of the pandemic, and review plans and situations daily to make sure we are well-prepared for the beginning of the Fall semester. We thank you for the resiliency and flexibility that you have demonstrated over the past few months and look forward to when we can all be together again.


Sally Bachman

Sara S. Bachman, PhD
School of Social Policy & Practice
University of Pennsylvania
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

I am pleased to write to you with a positive update about the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) guidance issued on July 6 and July 7. As a result of the advocacy by students and universities across the country, including Penn, the US Government has agreed to revoke this guidance and continue the status quo from March, which allows students to “engage in distance-learning, either from within the U.S. or outside the country, in light of COVID-19.”

What does this mean for continuing students?

If you are a continuing student and you are currently in the United States, you **will not** be required to leave the country even if you are taking a fully online course of study. Continuing students outside of the country may continue to take online courses without jeopardizing their active status in SEVIS. You do not need an updated I-20.

What does this mean for incoming students?

Please note that we are seeking additional guidance on this question and will update incoming, new students as additional information is provided. Updates will be communicated via email and the incoming student COVID-19 FAQ page.

If you know that you will not come to the US this fall, please make sure to update your academic school so that they can notify ISSS of the change in your I-20 or DS-2019 start date, if you have already received this form.

What does this mean for I-20s that have already been issued?

You can use the same I-20 that Penn has issued for travel and for visa interviews. You no longer need an updated I-20 with special comments.

Yesterday’s decision is a tremendous victory. The diverse perspectives and academic contributions that international students bring to this community are invaluable, and the Penn family would not be whole without you. We also acknowledge the frustration and challenges caused by last week’s news and hope that yesterday’s news gives some measure of relief. Stay strong, Penn!

Rodolfo R. Altamirano, PhD
Director, International Student and Scholar Services Director, Immigration and Integration Services Penn Global

Dear Members of the SP2 Community,

As many of you already know, the School of Social Policy & Practice and all other Penn Schools have been informed that the federal government is changing its rules with regard to our international students, which would mean that students enrolled in online programming would have to leave the country.

These recent changes to immigration policy are not ones that we accept; in fact, we wholeheartedly disavow this decision and any policy shift that seeks to threaten or compromise the educational goals and personal well-being of our international students.

It is undoubtedly a disheartening, frustrating, and unacceptable turn of events during an already tumultuous time for our students.

While we cannot predict what will happen next, we can—with utmost certainty—assure you that we, alongside our colleagues and collaborators at Penn and beyond, will be monitoring the situation closely and are committed to doing all that is needed as educators, administrators, and social changemakers to protect our international students and their best interests.

Our international students are not just a part of our SP2 community and are integral to the very fiber of the learning experience, intellectual discourse, and foundational tenets of what our School stands for.

To our international students: I affirm that you have a place at SP2, and you are indisputably essential to our mission and the commitment we have made to foster a more just, equitable, and compassionate world. We will remain engaged, proactive, and as communicative as possible as these circumstances evolve and we will stand by you every step of the way.


Sally Bachman

Sara S. Bachman, Ph.D.
School of Social Policy & Practice
University of Pennsylvania
3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Dear SP2 Students,

Our community and our world have endured tremendous trauma, sadness, and uncertainty since March 2020. With that at the forefront, your role as leaders in social change at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) is more critical than ever. With the University’s announcement today, SP2 will begin the implementation of a combination of online and in-person courses and allow us to continue our mission of the passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact, and justice.


Throughout this trying time, we have listened to our community’s concerns about safety, physical and emotional health, and the overall well-being of each of us to meet the demands of a flexible program. With these concerns and possibilities in mind, the faculty and staff have been meeting regularly to prepare a robust, safe, and rigorous course of study for all of our students.

All courses with more than 25 students enrolled will be meeting online. Courses with fewer than 25 students may be offered online or in-person based on safety considerations and available space. We will have information for students on all courses by the end of July. Students with concerns for their safety and welfare will not be required to attend classes in person. For in-person classes, faculty will make materials available in real time online. Faculty are engaged in ongoing and individualized training on best practices and plans are in motion for all students to receive an appropriate placement or internship as part of their academic experience at SP2.

Academic Calendar & Resources

Classes will start on Tuesday, September 1, as planned. Details regarding orientation and class meetings for the rest of the semester will be coming shortly. All students, regardless of where they are living, will have access to resources such as Penn LibrariesCareer ServicesCounseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)Student Health Services (SHS)Student Disabilities Services (SDS), and Weingarten Learning Resources Center.

Building Community

SP2 is committed to bringing together students, faculty, staff, and alums with the greater Penn and Philadelphia community to create a vibrant, engaged, intellectual community and to bridge physical and virtual spaces. We will continue to engage and support students in social justice action.


SP2 is enacting safety protocols in our buildings to minimize large gatherings and to organize public spaces in ways that minimize the threat of contagion. We are installing hand sanitizers throughout the building, designating one-way staircases, staggering class time arrivals and departures, and indicating dedicated entrances and exits, where feasible.


We will to continue to update you through the summer. Further, we want to continue to hear from you as you prepare for your return to graduate education. Please join us in July and August for an information session with an overview of policies impacting teaching and learning at SP2 and a Q&A with faculty and staff. The dates and time for these meetings are as follows:

  • Incoming Students: July 8th 7-8pm
  • Continuing Students: July 15th 7-8pm
  • Incoming Students: August 12th 7-8pm
  • Continuing Students: August 19th 7-8pm

We will send more information about these sessions next week, including links for registration and an invitation to send questions in advance. Additionally, we will send weekly email blasts regarding fall plans as details become available. Information will also be updated regularly on our website.

Our goal is to provide an unparalleled educational experience to all our students, as we have all come to expect from Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice. I look forward to seeing you all in the fall—either virtually or on campus!


Sara S. Bachman, PhD

A Message to the Penn Community from Amy Gutmann, President; Wendell Pritchett, Provost; Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

The events of the past four months have shown us, more than ever before, the profound importance of our shared communities. In March, our on-campus community became a virtual community, dispersed across the world. We began to live literally apart, our faces covered. Then we were powerfully reminded of the fragility of our human community, of the bonds that can both bring us together and tear us apart, in relation to the most significant issues of social equity and racial justice.

In this context, we are writing to you today about our plans for the fall semester. We are one Penn community and we look forward to coming together on campus as soon as we can. In the meantime, we have a communal responsibility to preserve our shared health and safety, all the while sustaining our commitments to teaching, learning, research, and service. We are asking every member of our community to do your part, as we will too, to uphold these ever more essential missions.

To develop our plans for the fall, the University convened a Recovery Planning Group (RPG), made up of representatives across all the major areas of our campus. Their planning has been guided by the latest medical information and governmental directives, and we want to thank the RPG members and all who supported them for their tireless work in addressing the myriad details involved in bringing students back to campus and in restarting our research enterprise.

Based on the meticulous recommendations of the RPG, we are announcing today a fall semester that will be a hybrid model. It will allow many students to return in a limited and careful way by incorporating online and virtual learning with on-campus classroom instruction where it can be provided safely and when it is essential to the academic needs of the course curriculum.

Campus life under this new model will need to be different for the fall semester. Large lectures will all be online, as will some graduate and professional programs. Gatherings will be limited in size. Housing accommodations will be at lower density. Everyone on campus will need to practice physical distancing, wear face coverings, and agree to testing and contact tracing. Administrative and academic support functions that can do so will continue to operate remotely. We are confident that we can provide our students with both a world-class education and also a campus experience that will be rewarding and meaningful. With everyone on campus affirming their willingness and doing their part to help themselves and others stay safe, we can provide a robust and meaningful Penn education in a manner that is as safe as possible for all involved.

Read the entire letter here.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Penn has created a dedicated Vaccination website where updated information about the vaccine rollout is posted, so please check it regularly.

The University has received authorization from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to administer the vaccine on campus to eligible faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. The site will open in April at Gimbel Gymnasium in the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center.

Penn’s upcoming vaccine distribution plan provides just one avenue to get vaccinated. We encourage everyone in the Penn community, wherever you may live, to explore all options available to receive your vaccination, as the vaccine that you can safely receive the earliest will be the ideal option. Here are additional links with vaccine information based on your state of residence: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania.

View more detailed information in the emails that have been sent to the community.

A Message to the Penn Community from

  • Mark Dingfield, Associate Provost, Finance and Planning
  • Benoit Dubé, Associate Provost and Chief Wellness Officer
  • Jack Heuer, Vice President, Division of Human Resources
  • Tom Murphy, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
  • Laura Perna, Vice Provost, Faculty

It has been one year since the pandemic began changing the ways we live, work, and learn. Though it has been a time of unprecedented challenges, the Penn community has shown remarkable resilience. Critical tools such as PennOpen Pass and Penn Cares have engaged all of us in our collective responsibility to protect ourselves and each other, and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The next critical step in our fight against the virus is vaccine distribution.

We recognize the many questions about what role Penn will play in distributing vaccines to the Penn community. Penn’s Vaccine Response Team (VRT) is currently working on implementing a vaccine distribution plan to provide vaccine access to faculty, staff, postdocs, and students.

The University has received authorization from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to administer the vaccine on campus to eligible faculty, staff, postdocs, and students.

The site will open in April at Gimbel Gymnasium in the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. We value your feedback about our vaccine efforts and ask that you take a few minutes to complete the Penn Wellness COVID-19 Vaccine Interest survey. Your answers will let us know that you are interested in receiving the vaccine on campus should you be eligible when it becomes available.

Vaccines are not mandatory. However, when they are available, the University will facilitate access to vaccines according to the vaccine phases established by the PDPH. The vaccines will be administered to faculty, staff, and postdocs who are Philadelphia residents, as this is the current PDPH guideline. Students are exempt from meeting the permanent residency requirement. We will communicate details of our plan and process once those plans have been finalized.

This message is to explain the eligibility process for vaccination and provide guidance for you on what to do if you have questions or are looking for additional options and resources to get vaccinated.

Who is Eligible?

In the City of Philadelphia, vaccines are being prioritized based on two principles: occupational exposure and transmission risk, and underlying mortality and morbidity risk. The vaccine access Penn provides will first be dictated by the City of Philadelphia guidelines. However, Penn will help coordinate access to the vaccine based on occupational risk and age only. To maintain medical health confidentiality, Penn is not considering morbidity risk in providing access to the vaccine. If you have a co-morbidity that you believe elevates your eligibility for the vaccine, please consult with your primary care physician.

In Philadelphia, vaccines are being distributed in Phases 1a, 1b, 1c, and 2. Phase 1a includes individuals who are high risk for exposure and transmission to vulnerable populations such as patient-facing healthcare workers. Phase 1b includes individuals who are 65 years of age and older, are frontline workers at high risk for exposure and who perform essential duties, work and reside in congregate settings, and have high-risk medical conditions. Phase 1c comprises those working in higher education. Phase 2 represents the general population, including students.

Although Penn’s vaccine plan does not include some individuals such as retirees and emeritus faculty, we are committed to providing all members of our community with information and guidance to explore all options for obtaining a vaccine.

Penn’s upcoming vaccine distribution plan provides just one avenue to get vaccinated. We encourage everyone in the Penn community, wherever you may live, to explore all options available to receive your vaccination, as the vaccine that you can safely receive the earliest will be the ideal option. Here are additional links with vaccine information based on your state of residence: New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania.

Other resources to consider include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vaccine Finder, National Public Radio Vaccine Tool, and the NBC News Plan Your Vaccine platform.

Questions about Vaccines

Penn has created a dedicated Vaccination website where we will post updated information about the vaccine rollout, so please check it regularly.

If you have questions, contact the COVID Resource Call Center at 215-573-7096 or email You can also view these vaccine-related FAQs.

The vaccine supply and distribution process remain fluid, so we deeply appreciate your patience as our vaccine plan evolves.

We thank you for your dedication and commitment to carrying out your roles and responsibilities and look forward to communicating more details about vaccines as they become available.

Dear SP2 Community,

I hope your weekend if off to a good start. I’m sure all of you are looking forward to spring break next week! It’s surreal that we’re almost at the one year mark of the pandemic, but I’m glad that relief is in sight.

Information regarding COVID-19 vaccine for SP2 students:

  • Per my email sent on January 27, it was our goal to ensure that the vaccine would be available to all SP2 students in clinical settings; however, due to certain restrictions only students who are currently in a field placement, practicum or internship AND who are residing in Philadelphia qualify.


  • If you meet this criteria you will be contacted by the University of Pennsylvania Health System within the next two weeksto schedule an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


  • I’m still waiting to hear when SP2 students in a clinical placement residing outside of Philadelphia county will be able to receive the vaccine from UPHS.


  • I do not  have a specific timeline for when the vaccine will be available to faculty and staff. However, I do know that some faculty and staff have been contacted to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments through their UPHS primary physician. I will send more information as I receive it.

Please continue to wash your hands, wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Take care and I hope you have a safe a relaxing spring break.

Jennifer J. Clinkscales, DSW, LCSW (she/her)
Associate Dean of Student Affairs

A message to Penn faculty & staff from Wendell Pritchett, Provost, and Craig Carnaroli, Executive Vice President

We deeply appreciate your continued commitment to keeping Penn a healthy and safe environment in which to live, learn, and work by following the public health guidance we have instituted for those on and off campus. Wearing masks, keeping physically distanced, and washing your hands remain the most critical tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The FDA’s emergency authorization of two COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) provides another critical measure of protection against the pandemic. We recognize there are questions about how and when vaccines will be made available to the University community. We want to share both what we know and what remains in question.

We know clinical studies have demonstrated that the vaccines are safe and effective. We encourage you to review the helpful FAQs from Penn Medicine on vaccine safety. We are also very aware that guidance about and availability of vaccines in different areas are evolving. While this challenges our ability to plan ahead, we expect to receive more consistent information on vaccine distribution in the coming weeks.

Penn Medicine is currently vaccinating eligible University and health system individuals in line with the guidelines established by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH). They have successfully offered vaccinations to health system and University employees who are at high risk for exposure to COVID-19 in clinical or lab settings (Phase 1a). University Human Resources is beginning to work with schools and administrative units to identify Penn employees who perform essential, frontline duties that place them at greater risk for exposure (Phase 1b). We do not yet know when we will be able to implement this phase. However, we are actively working on a plan to offer the opportunity to receive a vaccine and will keep you informed as these plans are finalized.

PDPH’s current guidance is that higher education faculty and staff not covered in Phases 1a and 1b will be vaccinated during Phase 1c, as part of a cohort of other essential workers who have lower risk of exposure. Although we do not know when we will reach this phase, our goal is to offer the vaccine as broadly and equitably as possible to all University employees during this phase.

University employees and their families may also be eligible to receive a vaccine through other distribution channels, such as their healthcare provider or retail pharmacy, based upon other risk factors, including age and high-risk medical conditions. The City of Philadelphia just launched a vaccine interest form for Philadelphia residents. Employees living in Delaware or New Jersey should review state guidance. We encourage you to register for appropriate county and/or state government sites for notifications and to explore all options for you and your family in each phase of the rollout, given the supply limitations.

As more information and vaccine supply become available, we are committed to working to provide every University employee the opportunity to access a vaccine.

Dear SP2 Students,

Many of you have inquired about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for students.  As we have seen over the past few weeks, vaccine prioritization and distribution plans remain fluid, which makes the timeline unclear. The University is working to prioritize students interning in clinical settings where exposure is at a higher risk. SP2 defines clinical setting as: any student who is in a field placement, internship or practicum, in which they have direct contact with clients/community partners/constituents/vulnerable populations.

The University expects that the next few weeks will bring more clarity. As soon as we have more information about the expected vaccination timeline for clinical students, I will be sure to share it with you. However, in the meantime, we encouraged students to access the vaccine in their community if it is available.

Jennifer J. Clinkscales, DSW, LCSW (she/her)
Associate Dean of Student Affairs

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions for SP2 students, faculty, and staff regarding Spring 2021 classes.

How do I stay connected with the SP2 community during this time?

The SP2 community spans far and wide already, as students and alum. We will be conducting many events throughout the semester to keep the community together and aligned to meeting our common vision of the passionate pursuit of social innovation, impact, and justice. Programs will include lecture series, student bonding experiences, support groups, and individual check-ins. There also will be regular communications and updates as SP2 continues to confront injustices in Philadelphia and throughout our nation and world.

How has the Spring calendar changed?

SP2 is utilizing a modified academic calendar for the spring 2021 term to ensure we receive a full spring break.  As a result, we are not participating in the University’s “engagement days”.  A detailed calendar is available here.

How do I know which of my classes will be online and which will be hybrid?

Both faculty and students have received surveys asking for their preferences for the Spring.

Can I still virtually attend a class that will be taught in-person?

Yes, classes that are taught in-person will also be available to students virtually. If there are multiple sections for the same class, we will try to section in-person classes separate from virtual classes, unless there is a specific request for a faculty member that may be teaching in-person where the student wants to take that faculty member’s class.

Will classes be taught synchronously (live) or asynchronously (recorded)?

Some classes will be taught synchronously, while other will be taught asynchronously and others will be a combination of both. This will mainly depend on the results of the survey and availability of students across time zones.

How will I stay connected with my instructor and academic adviser while remote?

Faculty will continue to have office hours as always. Additionally, you may ask to meet with your instructor and/or academic adviser as needed.

How will Penn accommodate classes that occur across time zones?

The results of the surveys that students are returning will determine how we manage students taking classes across time zones. We will work towards having synchronous classes at times that are manageable for faculty and students.

Will my class schedule change as a result of going hybrid?

The goal is to avoid changes in class schedules as much as possible. As we work to identify classrooms on campus, or manage students across time zones, changes may be needed. If a conflict in class timing should occur, we will work with the individual student to correct that as quickly as possible.

What if someone from my class is diagnosed with COVID-19?

In the event that a student or teaching faculty is diagnosed with COVID-19, that individual and their close contacts would be asked to self-isolate. Close contacts would be identified after a contact tracing interview done by someone from Penn’s Public Health team; close contacts are defined as individuals who were closer than 6 feet apart for more than 15 minutes. Based on the public health rules put forth for in-person instruction this spring, namely requiring face coverings and respecting distancing of more than 6 feet, no one in attendance during class would be deemed a close contact. Confidentiality rules will apply when sharing information regarding a COVID-19 case—the notification to those that were in contact with the affected individual will not include the person’s name who has the condition.

What is being done to protect the Penn community from COVID-19?

Everyone on the Penn campus will be required to wear a mask, regularly wash hands, maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others, and avoid crowds of more than 25 people. Each student will receive a “Student Campus Compact,” and staff and faculty will receive “Return to Campus” guide that will outline the measures the University and each of us will need to take to make sure we stay safe while on campus together.

How are tuition and fees changing because of the pandemic, and will this affect my financial aid?

On August 11, the University announced that tuition for undergraduates will be returned to Fall 2019 levels, and the general fees will be reduced by 10%. Senior leadership at SP2 has been in regular contact through the summer with central Penn leadership about our own graduate tuition growth, as we know it has been a concern of many of our students. We have been working hard reviewing our budget during this challenging time to see how we can best aid our students while maintaining a world-class program here at SP2. Historically, our tuition growth rate has been lower than other schools at Penn, including the undergraduate schools. Therefore, we will continue that commitment this year by adjusting tuition bills to remain constant with last year’s tuition charges.

We are working with the central office of Student Registration & Financial Services (SRFS) to ensure this does not negatively impact student financial aid packages as they are released with this new information. Please note that SP2 scholarship funding will not be reduced in correlation with the reduction of tuition and students will receive their full SP2 scholarship awards, up to the amount of the reduced tuition. Additionally, this change in tuition will not affect student loan eligibility or aid packages in terms of living expenses that students will receive. If students have already paid the full tuition bill, they will receive a refund of that difference from Student Financial Services.

What do I do if I have technology problems while trying to access my class?

Students have 24/7 IT support through the Student IT support desk—please visit the support page here for contact information. You can also email

What are the minimum systems requirements to connect with my class and where can I purchase an academically discounted computer?

The recommended hardware specifications for computers, and link for academically discounted computers, is available here.

What if I don’t have enough internet bandwidth for video conferencing?

We understand that there will be glitches and challenges to using video conferencing for classes and meetings. We have asked instructors to be flexible with students who encounter technical difficulties and to provide alternative ways that students can access course content. If you have a weak internet connection, please contact your instructor and program manager before your class begins to alert them to your situation. You could also try to “mute” your video, which might give you sufficient bandwidth to be able to see the instructor, his or her shared screen, and the other students. You can also try turning off video and using only the audio feature, or try dialing in from your phone. If your instructor has only sent a link as a meeting invitation, please ask them to share the dial-in phone number.

What will the classrooms look like for in-person classes?

Classrooms will all be large enough to provide sufficient physical distancing during the class, and will be held outside of Caster due to space constraints in the building. Since in-person classes will include 25 students or less, the classrooms will be quite large and could include fixed seating or flexible seating, depending on the availability of rooms during your class time.

How is my field placement, practicum, or internship impacted by COVID-19?

We are working hard to ensure everyone has a field placement in time for the academic year. Some placements could be in-person and some could be virtual. Requirements for Personal Protective Equipment may vary based on the agency where you are working, but you should never place yourself in a position of harm and should always wear a mask, physically distance yourself, and wash your hands frequently. A waiver should be completed before beginning your placement.

Can I find my own placement or internship?

If you’ve identified a placement or internship agency, you should speak with the SP2 Field Office in the MSW Program, or with your academic adviser or program coordinator in other programs, before speaking with any agency about placement or internship.

When will a decision about fall 2021 be made?

There is little to no predictability regarding this pandemic, and while we are unsure when vaccines will be available to the Penn community, there are no guarantees. With or without the vaccine, we do not know when we will receive a clearance from the Department of Health. As further information becomes available, we will include that in our regular communications to you.

How will exams be handled while hybrid?

The format and administration of exams will be determined by each instructor.

Do I need a PennCard?

If you will be on campus and you do not have your PennCard or your PennCard has expired, then you will need to get a new PennCard to get into the various buildings on campus. If you are a current student, please email the PennCard Center at for an appointment to get your replacement PennCard. If you are a new student, then please visit Campus Express.

If you will be remote in the spring, please be assured that, regardless of your return date, your access to PennKey-protected electronic resources is not dependent on your PennCard so there is no need to replace your PennCard prior to your return to campus. You will be able to make an appointment to renew your card when you return to campus.

Will I be able to remain in Penn Housing throughout the spring term so I can return to my field placement?

If graduate students are living in Sansom Place East they will likely be granted exceptions to remain on campus for academic requirements. The final determination of this should be made shortly. Penn Housing’s website can be found here.

How do I receive my textbooks from the Penn Bookstore for the Spring?

Students are able to order their books from the Penn Bookstore and have them shipped or obtain via ebook download. Purchase and rental, new and used, and price matching with Amazon and remain available. Once enrollments are assigned to each course-section, students are invited to log in and choose to have materials either shipped to them or held for pick up. This year, the digital catalog is significantly expanded. For spring, in response to the crisis, the store entered into an agreement with the major publishers to provide all students access to the digital versions of the books. That ebook infrastructure remains in place making literally tens of thousands of titles available for purchase, based on faculty submissions of text needs.

Can I access the Penn Library and its resources?

The Penn Library System is in a phased return to service. For the latest information for library access, please visit here.

Must I subscribe to Student Health Insurance in the Spring?

If a student is in Philadelphia, they will need to comply with Student Health requirements by either subscribing to Student Health or providing proof of adequate insurance. If a student is in the United States, health insurance is required, but does not necessarily need to be compliant with Penn’s requirements. All students are eligible to enroll in PSIP. For more information on Student Health, please visit here.

What mental health resources are available to me if I am having trouble coping with the pandemic and my studies?

Penn’s Wellness site has links for in person and telehealth services at Student Health Service, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Campus Health, and Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives. You can call CAPS 24/7/365 at 215.898.7021, or drop in during hours at 3624 Market Street, 1st Floor West.

Will grades be Pass/Fail in the Spring?

Spring 2020 courses will be graded according to Penn’s regular grading policies.

What if I get sick and need to miss class?

The usual policies and procedures around absences apply for both in-person and online classes. If you are sick and cannot participate in classes or finish assignments, notify your instructor.

Will classes be recorded?

We are working with faculty and Penn’s Computing to address this questions for a variety of issues. Zoom and Penn are currently in negotiations for HIPAA compliance, which could address some of the issues regarding this. More information will be provided about this shortly.

Where do I get help studying and learning remotely?

The Online Learning Initiative offers Remote Learning: Tips for Students with guidance on developing a study plan, creating space for learning, connecting with other people virtually, and other ideas for how to adapt to remote learning. Weingarten Learning Resources Center also has a list of Resources for Remote Learning and offers virtual individual consultations.

I am an international student and have questions including concerns regarding my visa, housing and OPT/CPT training. What should I do?

The link to FAQ’s for international students is here, including information about visas and OPT/CPT training. You can also write to ISSS here.

Is COVID testing available on campus?

It is anticipated that COVID testing will be available on campus from Student Health. More information regarding this will be available shortly.

Will students have access to the computer lab and printing at Caster?

It is currently planned that the computer lab will be closed at Caster, but printing will be available to students on campus. Printing software will be available for students to print documents to a printer located on the 2nd floor of Caster.

When will Canvas be ready for students to view?

Once the instructor for the Canvas site “publishes,” the Canvas site, students will be able to view it.

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How is research being handled on Penn’s campus?

Penn has implemented a Phased return to research plan. Details of that plan can be found here. Most research at SP2 can be done remotely, but if there is a need to go onto campus, please be mindful of the on campus requirements of wearing a mask, physical distancing, and avoiding crowds of greater than 25 people. You also are required to take the Knowledgelink COVID-19 training at this link, and search for the “COVID-19 Training for Penn Essential Employees” as shown below.

For general information for faculty and staff, please refer to the “Return to Work Guide.”

To view resources specific to teaching and instruction, please visit this page.

How do faculty request a Canvas site for their course?

Faculty can request a Canvas site for their course(s) by linking here or by contacting their SP2 Program coordinator (please also copy SP2’s Online Learning Coordinator, Nicole Auge). Directions are provided here.

What kind of support is there for Canvas?

Canvas support is usually handled by the Program Coordinators and the Library. You can email with support questions. SP2 IT can provide backup support at

What are my options for online teaching?

Using Zoom will likely be the most common form of online teaching, but the centrally pooled classrooms have other options available to you as well. Studios will be available for either broadcast use or recording use. For broadcast use, you can use the studio to synchronously use the whiteboard/blackboard in the front of the room as part of the teaching. For recording use, you can record your class using similar space for broadcast at a later date. More information about studio use, including how to reserve the space, will be coming shortly.

How do I learn more about Zoom in preparation?

The Center for Teaching and Learning has a number of classes available for faculty. Starting in the second half of July, CTL will provide a series of workshops for faculty on many of the technology tools faculty may use in teaching online. It may be possible to provide an SP2-specific training if there are distinct things faculty need and if we are confident that the school has sufficient demand for it. Each full-time and part-time faculty member should have received individualized technical instruction from SP2’s Online Learning Coordinator, Nicole Auge, as well. All faculty and staff also have access to a number of Zoom tutorials in Penn’s Linkedin Learning.

When will I find out about my classroom?

Through July, surveys from students and faculty will be sorted and coordinated with available classrooms throughout campus. Once classroom assignments are confirmed with the Central Classroom Committee, communications to faculty and students will begin.

What library services are available to faculty during the Spring term?

Anne Larrivee, Collections Analyst and Social Sciences Librarian can be reached at or you can schedule an appointment to meet with her at Below is information related to course reserves, streaming videos for course use, and additional course services.

Course Reserves

Because of ongoing health and safety considerations surrounding facilities access, Penn Libraries will be providing online course reserves for the spring semester.

  • All requests should be made electronically through your course Canvas If your TAs are course proxies, they can also submit the requests through the course Canvas sites.
  • Materials that are requested for reserve will be set aside so that they do not become inaccessible before they are scanned.
  • We will be pulling print materials to scan from all of the departmental libraries.
  • If Anne can help with finding permanent, reusable links to our subscribed online material, please do not hesitate to ask. These links can be easily added into your Canvas course site.
  • Penn Libraries has dramatically expanded their online book holdings over the past few months and have added thousands of new e-book records to the Franklin Catalog. You can also explore their major e-book platforms through this catalog record.

For more information about the Course Reserves process, consult our step-by-step Course Reserves guide.

Streaming Videos for Course Use

As of August 1, Penn Libraries will begin licensing streaming videos available on the Kanopy platform only by request; the previously unmediated on-demand licensing model has become financially unsustainable. The same request-only model will be applied to videos for individual research. To ensure that a streaming video will be available for your courses, please be sure to request it through the regular course reserve process. From that request, they will determine what options we have to license the film for streaming.

As always, it may be that some films are unavailable for streaming. Penn Libraries will be happy to assist you in determining whether specific streaming videos can be licensed for course use. Please be sure to contact as soon as possible so that all available options can be explored.

Additional Course Services

The Penn Libraries continues to offer virtual support for teaching, research, and learning. In addition to the services described on that page, please note that you can:

  • Request video demonstrations to be shared asynchronously with your students. (Advance notice is required.)
  • Request a course guide focusing on electronically accessible materials and including instructions on making requests for Pickup@Penn and digital delivery.
  • Add Anne’s email and “make an appointment” link to your Canvas sites to facilitate contact, including video consultations, with you or your students.

The Penn Libraries has also launched a number of essential services to re-connect Penn faculty, students and staff with the physical collections. See the Covid-19 Phased Library Service Availability guide for more information.

Can I still order books from the Penn Bookstore?

Yes, all services related to supporting faculty course materials remain available. Please let the Bookstore team know whether or not you will need to utilize their services by emailing or, so the bookstore can properly update its records, and in turn, inform the student community that may be relying on the Bookstore to provide them with the information. Please forward all new course material request as soon as possible to or If you are a registered FacutlyEnlight user and wish to submit orders through FacultyEnlight, for your convenience, please click

What upcoming teaching opportunities are available at the Center for Teaching and Learning?

View upcoming opportunities here.

For general information for faculty and staff, please refer to the “Return to Work Guide.”

Additional guidance for staff to assist with the flexible workplace can be found here.

Penn has provided a guide for employees working remotely, with information on how to best work productively while not on campus. The guide can be found here.

General guidance, including what to do if you or an employee has COVID-19 symptoms, can be found here. Please pay particular attention to the privacy concerns of some one who is being tested for COVID-19, reports to have COVID-19, or has been in contact with some one who has COVID-19.

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Should I return to campus this spring?

Staff should speak with their supervisor about returning to campus if there is a business need. No one will be compelled to return to campus this Spring if the staff member has COVID-related concerns. If there is a staffing need that can’t be met because of the unavailability of staff, please inform Karima Williams, Associate Director of Human Resources, so business needs can be met. Before returning to campus, you should complete the Knowledglink COVID-19 training at this link, and search for the “COVID-19 Training for Penn Essential Employees” as shown.

What if my PennCard expires?

Please visit the PennCard Center for more information.

New developments to the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are emerging quickly, and above all, we urge you to follow the recommendations and guidelines from local, state, and federal authorities.

The following organizations have set up official coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pages, in an effort to keep the public up-to-date:

University of Pennsylvania resources are available here:

Library Resources

In addition to physical and online books, the Penn Libraries offers electronic access to thousands of newspapers, databases, and journals; a selection of frequently accessed titles appears below.

Newspapers and magazines: The Economist, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, Fortune, Foreign Policy, Scientific American

Journals: Harvard Business Review, The Lancet, The Journal of Consumer Research, Annual Review of Psychology, and The Journal of Statistical Software

Databases: NexisUni*, PubMedPlus, and DowJones Factiva**

How to Connect

Log in to the Franklin Catalog using your PennKey, then set the drop-down menu to Journal Title Keyword to enter the name of a newspaper or journal (e.g. Wall Street Journal). This is the most comprehensive search through the library’s subscriptions and the best way to check to see if we have access to a certain newspaper or journal.

EBooks can also be accessed through the Franklin Catalog (select Online under the Access menu to find books available online) or through these major ebook database platforms.

The Lean Library browser extension offers off-campus access to Penn Libraries’ licensed content from any laptop or desktop computer. Download the extension and it will automatically detect when you are on a website that contains content the library subscribes to.

PressReader offers access to more than 6,000 newspapers and magazines from more than 100 countries in 60+ languages. With PressReader, users can view an enhanced digital copy of an available publication and read it online from cover to cover, just the way it was printed. Connect using your PennKey to find international top titles as well as national and local newspapers.


The Penn Libraries has deployed a Virtual Computer Lab for students to access software applications normally accessible in Library computer labs. Software includes in-demand titles that students can’t easily access by other means, including Stata and NVivo.

Get in Touch

Want to find out if the Libraries has access to a specific newspaper, or need help navigating these resources? Chat with a librarian Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm, or send a question any time. Our staff will respond in 24 hours or less.

Visit the Libraries’ website to find the latest updates on phased service availability and connect with us for virtual support.

* Nexis Uni covers thousands of news, legal and business sources, including print and online journals, television and radio broadcasts, newswires and blogs; local, regional, national and international newspapers with deep archives, and extensive legal sources for federal and state cases and statutes.

** Factiva offers access to full-text articles from more than 30,000 news publications, easily searchable by date range, publication name, subject, author, and more.


Parking for Penn, UPHS, and Penn Affiliates

Details about current availability and cost can be found here.

Other Helpful Information and Options for Faculty and Staff Returning to Campus

Penn Transit Services operates fixed-route and on-demand transportation within specific boundaries. This free service is available to PennCard holders. Download the free PennRides on Request mobile application from the App Store or Google Play or visit for information.

If you have not traveled to campus recently, sign up for the Division of Public Safety’s Traffic Advisories. Additionally, we remind everyone of Public Safety’s 24/7 Walking Escort Program.

Building Access

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For information on how it works, answers to frequently asked questions, the privacy policy, and other resources, visit the PennOpen Pass websitePlease note that any staff member that is on campus for at least 4 hours in any given week is REQUIRED to be tested to COVID. For details on this policy and how to schedule your test, please visit this site.

To gain access to any University building, all faculty, staff and students must register and complete the PennOpen Pass application every day. PennOpen Pass is a daily symptom checker to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the Penn community. Daily tracking is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our community as it will enable clinical staff and contact tracers to act quickly if COVID-19 is detected and help to expediently connect individuals to care.

Anyone that will be on campus, even just occasionally, is required to register for PennOpenn Pass, and is asked to perform the symptom checks each day, regardless of whether they are reporting to campus on that day. The daily process takes on average 17 seconds to complete and we encourage everyone in the SP2 community to participate. To enroll, please follow the steps outlined in the PennOpen Pass.

Users will be asked a few yes or no questions, and if they have no symptoms, and have not been in recent contact with someone who may have COVID-19, they will receive a Day Pass to enter Penn buildings. Otherwise, the tool will direct the user to the appropriate next steps. Please know that the University is committed to protecting your privacy, and the PennOpen Pass Privacy Statement is available for your review online.

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