Spring 2022 COVID-19 FAQs for Instructors
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This page provides information about academic issues and resources for instructors related to the COVID-19 pandemic for the Spring 2022 semester.
For the latest public health guidance and more information, visit coronavirus.upenn.edu.
The University continues to monitor the evolving public health situation and this guidance will be updated as needed.
Last updated: April 18, 2022
As of Monday, April 18, 2022 all members of and visitors to the Penn community are required to wear masks while indoors in public or shared spaces, including in classrooms, until further notice.
The University's masking guidance will be based on the City of Philadelphia's COVID Response Levels and rates of positivity on campus. This information will continue to be updated based on the latest Public Health Guidance; see the latest mask guidance for more information about masking.
Penn Environmental Health and Radiation Safety provides guidance on Universal Mask and Cloth Face Covering Precautions.
We strongly encourage you to wear a surgical mask or KN95/KF94/N95 mask, as these masks have been shown to be more effective than cloth masks. See Universal Mask and Cloth Face Covering Precautions for more information.
The Center for Teaching and Learning provides guidance for instructors on various strategies for teaching while masked, including using lapel microphones, different modes of content delivery, and technology solutions. For more information about technology options in the classroom, talk to your local IT support provider.
The University’s current masking requirement requires wearing a mask in all indoor public and shared spaces, including classrooms. KN95 mask, N95 respirator mask, or surgical masks are recommended. The university will not supply KN95 masks or N95 respirators. KN95 masks can be purchased in the Penn Marketplace through Penn’s preferred contract suppliers, including EMSCO-Fisher. Penn does not have sourcing guidance for N95 respirator masks at this time; N95 respirators must be individually fit-tested to offer their expected levels of protection.
Surgical masks must completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of the face and not have gaps, and have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask. The University has procured a supply of surgical masks for use on campus; efforts are being coordinated by Environmental Health and Radiation Safety and instructors should consult their Department or Program Chairs for distribution plans. The Penn Bookstore also has surgical masks available for sale.
All such requests for exceptions must be initiated by contacting your department/program/undergraduate/graduate group chair. Please consult your Chair for the full recommendations, including the process to request an exemption. Requests are subject to approval by the school, Office of the Provost, and Penn Wellness.
No. Students must keep their masks on for the entirety of the class period.
Often a simple reminder to mask can be an effective way to address this situation. If the student still will not comply with the requirement, instructors should report the incident on the Masking Violations page. They may also ask the non-compliant student to leave the classroom, and if necessary for the health and safety of the class members, stop the class if the student will not leave.
Students are expected to obtain their own masks and are provided them by their College Houses and many other groups on campus. Students who forget to bring masks with them may contact the building administrator for the classroom building. The contact information for building administrators is generally posted in classrooms along with contact information for technology support. Instructors may also contact their department administrator for help reaching out to the appropriate building administrator.
Classrooms and Attendance
Faculty should not come to campus if they are ill or experiencing symptoms (including flu and other illnesses). Faculty are expected to follow all the guidelines set out by HR for working safely on campus and the current Public Health Guidance, such as properly masking in indoor public and shared spaces, complying with the vaccine and booster requirement, using PennOpen Pass, and all other public health guidance.
Policies and procedures to support faculty who become ill or unable to teach during the semester remain in effect. Faculty should discuss their individual circumstances with their Dean or Department Chair. In certain cases, faculty may be given an exception to teach remotely for a limited period of time if necessary.
Refer to the Classroom Exposure FAQ for more information about contact tracing and the risk of exposure in classrooms.
The Center for Teaching and Learning has developed guidelines for how to support students who may need to quarantine or isolate and combining structure and flexibility in courses.
The University is requiring all students, faculty, staff, postdocs, and other campus partners to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 for the Spring 2022 semester. See more information at coronavirus.upenn.edu.
Instructors are not allowed to ask students about medical information. The University maintains all such information securely, with access limited to those individuals engaged in health and safety functions for Penn on a need-to-know basis.
It is up to the discretion of the instructor if they will check the status of PennOpen Pass for their class. However, if instructors decide to check students’ PennOpen Pass status, they should check all students and not single out a particular student.
Individuals can receive a Red Pass for a variety of reasons as described in the PennOpen Pass FAQ. Individuals who receive a Red Pass will be provided instructions on what they need to do next. Instructors should direct students to follow up with the directions they are given on the pass and return to class when their pass is Green. Instructors should also provide information for the student on how they can make up any material they miss. The Center for Teaching and Learning has developed guidelines for how to support students who must miss class.
Individuals should not come to work or class in-person if they are sick or feel unwell, even if they have a Green Pass. Students should contact their health care provider for further guidance and complete PennOpen Pass. The Center for Teaching and Learning has developed guidelines for how to support students who must miss class.
Instructors who are concerned about a possible exposure risk but have not been contacted by our contact tracing team may identify this exposure through PennOpen Pass or schedule a COVID test through the Penn Cares testing site.
Current public health guidelines do not require distancing in the classroom. In person classes are operating at 100% capacity in their assigned rooms for the Spring 2022 semester. Information on what we are doing to keep our facilities safe can be found in the Facilities Resumption FAQ.
The University continues to monitor the evolving public health situation.
As announced on December 23, 2021, undergraduate classes for Spring 2022 will begin as scheduled on January 12 in virtual formats online (except for clinical courses), and then transition to in-person classes on January 24.
After January 24, undergraduate instruction for the Spring 2022 semester is in-person with very limited exceptions. Should an instructor wish to offer an undergraduate course online or with a significant online component, they should provide their Undergraduate Dean with pedagogical justification for offering the course in this fashion. Such requests are considered on a case by case basis by the four Undergraduate Deans.
For information about graduate and professional programs, contact the program or school.
Faculty seeking medical accommodations should follow the procedure outlined below.
The University continues to monitor the evolving public health situation.
Instructors are permitted to hold class meetings outdoors at their discretion. However, please note the following:
- Tent spaces are not able to be reserved and are intended for informal use by the Penn community
No, the University is not mandating that classes be recorded. Check with your department or school for additional information.
Technology needs and capabilities vary across classrooms. For more information about technology options, talk to your local IT support provider. Instructional technology support can work with instructors to address individual concerns about amplification depending on the classroom.
Please also note that the Center for Teaching and Learning has developed guidance on teaching with a mask which includes non-technological solutions.
Each building at Penn has specific heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Facilities and Real Estate Services and Environmental Health and Radiation Safety have conducted building-by-building HVAC systems condition and performance reviews. All occupied on-campus buildings are in compliance with the prevailing International Building Code and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards for ventilation. More information on your HVAC systems and other facilities resources can be found on the Facilities and Real Estate Services website.
The University continues to monitor the evolving public health situation.
Academic policies regarding grading remain at their pre-COVID standards, as was the case for the Fall 2021 semester. The special grading policies surrounding pass/fail from the Spring 2021 term are no longer in effect. Information about grading policies is available from the program or school.
Penn will again offer a virtual shopping period on Canvas in Spring 2022 so that students can “visit” different courses as they finalize their course selections. This feature will be available starting on the first day of classes, Wednesday, January 12 through Tuesday, January 25, the last day to add a class.
All undergraduate courses in the College, Engineering, Nursing, and Wharton will be made visible. For a course to be visible, an instructor must have published their course in Canvas. Instructors are encouraged to publish their Canvas sites before January 12 so that they will be available at the start of the shopping period. Some graduate and professional programs may also be participating.
Instructors who have published their course will be able to opt out of having their course visible by following the instructions here.
Students will be able to access the visible courses through Penn InTouch via a link available on the course listing. When students are visiting a course’s Canvas site, it is not the same as being registered for the course. Students accessing a course through this process will not appear on the Canvas course roster and they will not be able to participate in the course discussions or submit assignments. Students who access a course’s Canvas site while not enrolled in the course will need to ask the instructor for permission to “sit in” on any virtual synchronous class sessions.
During the period of online instruction until January 24, online course content can be provided synchronously (live sessions for the entire class at the same time), asynchronously (recordings or material that can be watched or completed at any time), or by a combination of both methods.
If instructors choose to provide synchronous online content, it must be offered on the same day(s) and time(s) as your course is regularly scheduled during the semester (in Eastern Time). If students will be participating from a different time zone, they should alert their instructor.
Instructors must make sure that all students can engage with course materials, even if they cannot participate synchronously.
The final exam period for Spring 2022 is May 2-10, 2022 as listed on the Academic Calendar. Students in graduate and professional programs should contact their program for additional information.
Final exams postponed from Fall 2021 will be conducted in the same format as the original exam: for exams delivered in-person, the postponed exam will be conducted in person. For exams delivered online, including all exams scheduled for December 20-22, the postponed exam will be conducted online. Students should consult with their instructors for more information about their postponed exams.
In-person postponed exams will be scheduled during the period of January 26-February 4. A detailed schedule with times and room assignments is still being developed and will be posted on the Office of the University Registrar’s Final Exam page.
For online postponed exams, instructors may use the time noted on the original final exam make-up schedule or determine a mutually agreeable time with the student to conduct the exam. We encourage instructors to complete online exams as quickly as possible, and all postponed final exams must be concluded no later than February 4.
Students who have been approved through SDS for accommodations on final exams should consult with SDS for further information.
Students wishing to request an accommodation should contact Student Disability Services.
Instructors may choose to hold office hours in person or virtually. See the latest Public Health Guidance for more information, including guidance on events and other non-course gatherings.
Faculty seeking a medical accommodation should contact the Office of Affirmative Action (OAA) and Equal Opportunity Programs either by calling 215-898-6993 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once received by OAA, the medical information provided is treated as sensitive and confidential and only shared as necessary with those who have a need to know in order to review the request for the accommodation. OAA serves as the facilitator between the faculty member and their department/school to determine if the accommodation can be granted. Any accommodation must be aligned with the University’s commitment to in-person undergraduate teaching.
Of note, a request for accommodations under the ADA requires reviewing medical information so it is best to centralize the intake.
Faculty should discuss other concerns and questions about their individual circumstances with their dean or department chair.
For Penn-affiliated travel, Penn Global provides COVID-19 travel guidelines and procedures for both domestic and international travel.
Penn has a comprehensive website on wellness and work-life with programs, resources, and information for faculty and staff. For information about COVID-19 related resources, courses, events, and more available to faculty and staff, visit the Well-being Resources for Times of Transition page. Penn’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides eligible faculty and staff and their families access to free, confidential, 24/7 counseling and referral services for personal and professional life issues from any location.