Wharton Spring ’21 Semester Plans
Wharton FAQ

This page was last updated on January 15, 2021 @ 3:00pm

Have a degree-specific question? Visit the program pages below.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the guidelines for in-person class size?

Currently, we are following the University guidance which states in-person classes may not exceed 25 persons, no matter the room size.

Will all programs operate in a hybrid model, and if so, what will the hybrid classroom look like this spring?

All Wharton programs are prepared to utilize hybrid teaching models this spring, though the number of classes & other in-person activities will vary by program. For more details by program, please visit our specific Program FAQ sections.

Testing, Health & Safety

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 do I do if I feel sick?

You may reach out to Student Health (215-746-3535) to discuss your concerns with a medical provider via telehealth. They can give you medical advice as well as determine if an in-person appointment is necessary. In order to maintain the safety of all students and staff, and under CDC guidance, Student Health Service is NOT taking walk-in appointments. Please CALL FIRST. If SHS is closed, on-call providers are available for urgent telehealth consultations. You should also stay home and away from others to minimize opportunities to make others sick.

Students should visit Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page for the latest details.

What if I am too sick to attend 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 via email or Canvas as soon as possible. Undergraduate students should use the Course Absence Report system to report absences for both online and in-person classes.

Learn more about the latest testing guidelines on Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page.

What should I do if I have previously tested positive for COVID-19?

The following information was taken from the PennOpen Pass FAQ page:

  • Per CDC Guidelines, Penn is not testing students who have tested positive in past 90 days.
  • If your positive test was performed within the Penn system, your test results will be on record in the system and you will not be required to schedule their weekly screening tests until that 90-day period ends.
  • If your positive test was performed outside our Penn system, you are asked to mark the box that you have tested positive in the PennOpen Pass application and you will be directed to upload your positive test result into the Penn Health Portal.
  • While you are not prohibited from scheduling a test during this 90 day period, you are strongly discouraged from scheduling a test during this window and to wait until the 90-day window expires.
  • Once your 90 day period has expired, you will be required to start weekly testing to attend in-person activities and classes.
  • Returning to Class: If you test positive for COVID-19 Campus Health will work with you to determine when you can return to work/class in-person. Your return date will depend on a number of factors. If you have a COVID-19 test done outside of Penn Medicine, please be ready to provide documentation of your test result to Campus Health. If you test positive for COVID-19, Occupational Medicine (faculty/postdocs/staff) or Campus Health (students) will work with you to determine when you can return to work/class in-person.

Is testing mandatory for attending in-person classes this spring?

Yes, testing will be required to access campus this spring, with varying frequencies based on audiences. This includes:

  • 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.  
  • 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.

Spring Student Testing

The latest testing guidelines can be found on Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page. They include:

Gateway Testing

Testing before students arrive on campus is not a requirement; however, as students arrive on campus for the spring semester, they must receive COVID-19 gateway testing (also known as day-of-arrival testing) to establish baseline prevalence in the student community. Students living on or off campus must quarantine in their place of residence until they are cleared with a negative gateway test result. Students living on or off campus must complete their gateway test no later than January 18, 2021.

Travel Quarantine

Anyone coming from outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is asked to be mindful of guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the City of Philadelphia. Although this guidance is fluid and changes frequently, the University requires students complete a 14-day precautionary travel quarantine, which is the gold standard of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students will receive gateway testing immediately upon arriving on campus. Results of the gateway test do not change the requirement to quarantine for 14 days. One cannot test out of quarantine.

Where will testing take place?

Penn will provide testing at different locations across campus. Visit the Current Testing Sites and Hours page to see the latest updates.

How is the data collected from PennOpenn Pass used and with whom is the information shared?

The University is committed to the privacy of all its students. Details on the PennOpen Pass Privacy Policy can be found here.

Is student travel prohibited?

All students agree to adhere to the University’s most current guidance on travel, found here. If individuals must travel, students agree to follow the quarantine and testing requirements in place at that time. In the case of WEMBA students, where travel is inherent to the program, details on quarantine and testing needs are being finalized and will be communicated prior to the spring semester start.

Learn more about testing guidelines related to travel on Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page.

Are students required to get flu shots?

As outlined in the Student Compact, all students are required to receive a flu shot before their return to campus. Proof of immunization to the flu will be a condition of attendance.

Learn more about the latest testing guidelines on Penn’s Student Testing Resources: Spring Semester page.

Building Access

What procedures are required if I want to enter a Wharton building?

All individuals must utilize the PennOpen Pass program to access any on-campus facilities. The PennOpen Pass program is a daily symptom checker to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to the Penn community. After enrollment, users complete a quick survey. If you have no symptoms and have not been in recent contact with someone who may have COVID-19, you get a Day Pass to enter Penn buildings. Otherwise, the tool will direct you to next steps. Anyone who plans to enter campus buildings must have a Day Pass through the PennOpen Pass program.

Enroll in PennOpen Pass here.

Will on-campus housing be available, and if so, who will be able to access?

Penn will open on-campus housing subject to limitations that enable proper social distancing. Students will be in single bedrooms with shared bathrooms at no more than a 6:1 ratio. Priority will be given to first-, second- and fourth-year undergraduates who still wish to live in on-campus college housing. Those who have signed up for on-campus housing will receive specific details directly from Residential Services.

Can I use the Lippincott Library?

Lippincott has opened in October for appointments only. Please visit the library website for the latest updates.

What precautions are being taken to ensure that ventilation systems in Wharton buildings are working properly?

The University’s Facilities and Real Estate Services group is working hand-in-hand with the Environmental Health and Radiation Safety experts to ensure that all ventilation systems are working optimally. The University’s standard filtration systems exceed ASHRAE recommendations for virus filtration. Buildings that have been closed or in set-back mode will be “flushed” by maximizing outside air intake prior to reopening. Operation of HVAC systems will continue to be monitored while buildings are occupied.

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.