Wharton Spring ’21 Semester Plans

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Message From Dean Erika James

Recently, Penn released its plans for spring semester ’21. In it, they outlined their priority for students to return to campus for residential activities like housing and dining, and the testing, health & safety protocols they are prepared to deliver to limit the risk of potential COVID-19 infections to our community. These details represent important inputs in Wharton’s overall spring planning process, which I shared began in earnest earlier this fall. Today, I write to give you an update on our progress.

Spring Planning Update

Wharton’s undergraduate spring plans are reflected in the University’s scenario. However, as our graduate and doctoral population differ in many ways from the undergraduate student body, Wharton must consider all of its constituents to forge our own spring plans. A committee of faculty and staff, with input from students across programs, worked in concert this fall to reflect all of Wharton’s unique and interdependent situations. At the onset, I shared with the committee two priorities to consider as they outlined the semester: facilitate in-person interactions for those who want them AND where necessary, prioritize engagement opportunities for the class of ’21. Wharton’s intricate, highly collaborative engagement model was disrupted in many ways from the pandemic, and our graduating students have experienced the most prolonged impact. It is my desire to give extra attention to these outcomes and audiences as we chart a path for spring.

To that end, I am pleased to share that we’ve developed scenarios providing a hybrid format option for each degree program, all advancing our goal of a safe return to campus.

Wharton's Guiding Principles

The principles that guided our fall planning remained at the heart of our process this spring. These four tenets continue to reflect our unwavering commitment to safety without sacrificing the quality of, or access to, our world-class Wharton education. With our plans in mind, we further delineated how these principles will manifest themselves this spring, giving all constituents view-through into our thinking. This includes:

1. Maintaining the safety and well-being of the Wharton community above all else, no matter the changing global circumstances.

We will operate in alignment with state and federal protocols regarding health & safety to reduce our risks of virus transmission, as well as follow all University guidelines for on-campus activity, including mandatory testing and adherence to the updated Student Campus Compact.

2. Facilitating access to all coursework, no matter a student’s unique situation.

Faculty and programs will carefully adapt our curriculum to offer limited, in-person academic options, while ensuring courses are also available in a virtual format for those unwilling or unable to participate on-campus.

3. Ensuring academic and co-curricular content is developed to be student-centric, no matter the delivery mode.

We will ensure faculty have the tools and support necessary to adapt coursework for hybrid and online formats, while also designing a learning environment and engagement opportunities for the allowable group size of 25 or less.

4. Executing with operational excellence aligning with the values of the Wharton School, no matter the executional complexity.

We will fully leverage our network, knowledge, and resources to innovate on all aspects of the Wharton experiencecurricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular — to reflect our premier Wharton education both in and outside the classroom.

Lastly, in partnership with the schools and units across the University, we will administer mandatory testing for our community in line with Penn’s guidance, which states that all undergraduates will be required to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week upon their return to campus, and all graduate and professional students engaged in research activities on campus or living in the area once per week. It is imperative that we not only do all we can to protect our Penn family, but also that we conduct ourselves as safe, respectful citizens within the broader communities we inhabit, be they in Philadelphia or anywhere around the globe.

Program Scenarios

The resulting hybrid strategies, built with these myriad issues in mind, allow programs to operate with flexibility for their populations and within the guidelines for their continued safety. In-person opportunities align to current safety guidelines for gathering, but are also responsive enough to expand or contract in size, scope, and scale to evolving health conditions.

I urge students to thoroughly digest the plans provided, and understand that it reflects a strategy developed with the best-known information at this given time. Programs continue to work diligently to address all facets of their scenario’s execution, so I ask for your ongoing patience with the process as they incorporate new and necessary information to form the best way forward.

Pivot Criteria

Even with all elements considered and outcomes planned, we know we must be prepared to pivot should the situation demand. Currently, we are considering four key criteria to determine if a need exists to revisit our plans. These include:

  • An active virus outbreak within the Penn/Wharton community
  • A meaningful and/or sustained lack of adherence to Penn/Wharton community guidelines
  • Any shift to city, state, or federal mandates around group gathering sizes, travel restrictions, or other safety measures
  • Anything impacting Penn/Wharton’s ability to sustain the required level of community testing

The delicate and complex set of interdependencies surrounding our return to campus plans cannot be understated. To succeed, we must demand every member of our community give constant observance to guidelines, intentional vigilance towards governance, and offer thoughtful understanding of the ever-changing nature of the pandemic’s impact. If guidance from the government or Penn requires us to shift to maintain compliance, I know I speak for all of Wharton when I say we will do what is necessary to align where needed.

Wharton’s hybrid plans will not be optimal to everyone. Yet my desire is that they are additive to most, while ensuring the safety of us all. We have learned so much from the preceding months that we can now stand ready to apply that knowledge against the uncertainty ahead. I thank each of you for your patience, input, and most of all, faith in Wharton’s ability to rise to this and any challenge before us. Such unflinching support will allow us to do great things in the face of any obstacle — together.

Warm regards,


Dean, The Wharton School
Reliance Professor of Management and Private Enterprise
Professor of Management

Important Community Updates as of November 2, 2020

Mandatory Testing Details NEW

  • Consistent with Schools across Penn, all Wharton undergraduates will be required to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week upon their return to campus in the spring, as well as all graduate and professional students engaged in research activities on campus or living in the area once per week.

Spring Campus Compact NEW

  • Students are expected to adhere to the updated Campus Compact, which delineates daily wellness checks, testing protocols, permitted campus activity, and more.

Customized Hybrid Model NEW

  • Each degree program has developed a customized hybrid model that is tailored to address their varying interdependencies. Visit their pages to learn more.

Pivot Criteria NEW

  • Currently, we are considering four key criteria to determine if a need exists to revisit our plans. These include:
    • An active virus outbreak within the Penn/Wharton community
    • A meaningful and/or sustained lack of adherence to Penn/Wharton community guidelines
    • Any shift to city, state, or federal mandates around group gathering sizes, travel restrictions, or other safety measures
    • Anything impacting Penn/Wharton’s ability to sustain the required level of community testing

Programs

Our staff has determined specific strategies for their programs in the spring. Visit your page to see the latest updates.

School-Wide Safety Protocols

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Testing, Health & Safety

Student Testing

All undergraduates will be required to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week upon their return to campus. All graduate and professional students engaged in research activities on campus or living in the area once per week.

In addition to mandatory COVID-19 testing, all undergraduate and graduate students are required to get a flu shot before returning to campus. Proof of immunization will be needed to access campus.

Faculty & Staff Testing

All faculty, staff, and post-docs who are on campus for four or more hours each week interacting with other community members, or whose activities on campus involve teaching, or who are regularly in an aggregate setting of ten or more people in a single shared space on campus will be required to complete screening testing. All other faculty, staff, and post-docs engaged in any on-campus activities are encouraged to participate in screening testing.

PennOpen Pass

Everyone who comes to campus (faculty, staff, and students) will be required to enroll in PennOpen Pass. PennOpen Pass is a daily symptom checker and exposure reporting system designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within the Penn community. Daily symptom checks or exposure reporting on PennOpen Pass are required of those who are on campus.

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Facilities Access & Guidelines

In-Person Classroom Facilities

At this time, we expect the following Wharton buildings to be utilized for the spring semester:

  • Jon Huntsman Hall
  • Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall
  • Wharton Academic Research Building
  • Vance Hall
  • Wharton San Francisco

Building Cleaning Protocols

All Penn buildings are maintained, cleansed, and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines. Hospital Grade Disinfectant is utilized when disinfecting buildings daily, and the schools have implemented a fluorescent marking system that allows us to verify cleaning techniques. In addition, Wharton has multiple hand sanitizing stations through the facilities (not just in restrooms) and wipe stations strategically located between classrooms for individuals to access and to wipe down surfaces.

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Student Compact & Governance

Penn Student Compact

All Penn students agree to adhere to the guidelines detailed in the Penn Student Conduct Compact. The updated Compact includes 4 distinct categories of governance: Health & Wellness, Campus Movement, Travel and Guests, and Social Life and Recreation.

The Compact outlines protocols for all Penn students, regardless of where they are living during the Spring 2021 semester. As always, the university is closely monitoring public health guidance and will communicate updates to the Compact as needed.

Compact Violations

Compact violations will be reviewed by the Compact Review Panel and may be forwarded to the Office of Student Conduct for disciplinary review and action per the Disciplinary Charter of the University of Pennsylvania.

Individuals can bring infractions to the attention of the review panel by submitting their information here: https://upenn.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6R4DIR9Pm2ziKsl

Wharton FAQs

How will the University handle a COVID outbreak on campus?

Penn has a panel of public health experts who will be continuously reviewing the state of the disease on campus and in the local community, will be assessing trends, and will make any necessary adjustments in the academic schedule or student life directives based on this evidence.

What cleaning protocols are in place for campus buildings?

All Penn buildings are maintained, cleansed, and disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines. We use a Hospital Grade Disinfectant when disinfecting buildings daily and have implemented a fluorescent marking system that allows us to verify cleaning techniques. In addition, Wharton has multiple hand sanitizing stations through the facilities (not just in restrooms) and wipe stations strategically located between classrooms for individuals to access and to wipe down surfaces.

Faculty & Staff Updates as of November 2, 2020

Mandatory Testing Details NEW

  • Screening testing will be required for faculty, staff, and post-docs who are on campus for four or more hours each week interacting with other community members, or whose activities on campus involve teaching, or who are regularly in a setting of 10 or more people in a single shared space.
  • All other faculty, staff, and post-docs who are engaged in any on-campus activities are encouraged to participate in screening testing.

PennOpen Pass NEW

  • Everyone who comes to campus will be required to enroll in PennOpen Pass.

Staff Responsibilities NEW

Remote Operation NEW

  • All administrative functions that are able to continue operating remotely will continue to do so during the spring semester.