Penn's Coronavirus COVID-19 Page
Visit, the University’s dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 Wellness web page, for the latest updates including links to preventative health and travel advisories.

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Coronavirus Health and Safety

Workplace Resources for COVID-19 Control

September 8, 2020

As conditions change, this page may be updated at the discretion of the Provost and the Executive Vice President.

If you feel ill, please do not report to work.
Working while you are sick can endanger community health. The University provides paid sick time and other benefits to compensate employees who are unable to work due to illness.

Spread the Love

Leave your messages of support, encouragement, and gratitude to frontline saff and they will be spread system-wide and delivered to our staff.

Share your notes of gratitude with Penn Medicine staff.

Essential, Life-Sustaining Work

Everyone entering Penn’s buildings, regardless of their role, should be wearing masks to prevent infections. This directive is based on the CDC’s recent guidance that the use of face coverings may be effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 from an individual who is infected but asymptomatic (seems well even though they carry the virus). Penn will provide the masks for essential life-sustaining employees. Essential employees should speak with their managers about obtaining masks. Details about how to use, reuse, remove and store masks can be found at on the EHRS website.

Remote Work

All staff who can work remotely are expected to do so.

We recognize that not all employees are able to work remotely. At this time, no University paid employee will be put in an unpaid status.

Refer the remote work guidelines for details.

Workplace and Home Precautions

Penn’s health and wellness community encourages everyone to take the following general precautions at work, home, and in your neighborhood:

Depending on the environment and your role, your school or center facility may have additional requirements. For further advice, contact your supervisor or Penn EHRS.

Guidance on Use of Masks from Penn EHRS

(EHRS details on mask and PPE Guidance for Essential Lab Personnel).

Universal Mask Precautions

Everyone entering Penn buildings, regardless of their role, must follow Universal Mask precautions.

  • Two-ply cotton cloth masks and or earloop/string tied or surgical-style masks will be utilized as universal masks. The style of mask will depend on your organization. Surgical-style masks are constructed in a similar manner as surgical masks but are not manufactured for clinical use or carry FDA approval. These masks are non-sterile.
  • Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are acceptable but not required. In general medical/surgical face masks and respirators are in very limited supply and ideally reserved for healthcare staff.
  • Universal masks are intended to limit the risk of the wearer exposing a coworker to undetected illnesses or infections, including COVID-19. These masks do not necessarily provide the wearer with extra protection.
  • Universal masks should be worn at all times by essential Penn personnel and should cover your nose and mouth.
  • Universal masks should be removed only for eating. See Removal/Storage below.
  • Social distancing must be maintained even while wearing the mask.

Temporarily Removing Universal Masks

  • Masks should only be temporarily removed when eating. 
  • Any time a mask is removed, it must be stored in a storage bag. (see storage below)
  • Do NOT place masks on counters, computers, etc.
  • Avoid touching the outer surface while removing the mask.
  • Perform hand hygiene (wash with soap and water or use hand sanitizer) after handling mask.

Mask Removal/Storage
(Visit for illustrated instructions.)

Flat Masks, including cloth

  • Carefully fold so that the outer surface is held inward and against itself to reduce contact with the outer surface during storage
  • The folded mask can be stored between uses in a clean sealable paper bag.  Do not use plastic.
  • Label the paper bag with your name.
  • Perform hand hygiene (wash with soap and water or use hand sanitizer) after handling mask.

Cup Shaped Masks with straps

  • Carefully remove the mask so that you do not touch the outside.
  • Place the mask in the bag so the outer surface is facing downward.
  • Label the paper bag with your name.
  • Perform hand hygiene (wash with soap and water or use hand sanitizer) after handling mask.

Use good hand hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially  after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
illustration of washing hands for 20 seconds

Stop the spread of germs:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.
  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, utensils, cups, vapes/JUULs, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
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Stay home if you are feeling sick:

    • If you are not feeling better after 24 hours, seek medical attention.

      "Call ahead to a healthcare professional if you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread. Tell your healthcare professional about your recent travel or contact. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19."--CDC
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    Human Resources-related Guidance for Supervisors and Staff

    Penn Sources

    Guidance for Managers on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    COVID-19 Sick Time and Leave Guidance

    Penn Human Resources Policy Manual

    Penn Health Insurance and COVID-19

    Health Advocate: A Resource for Faculty and Staff


    Other Guides for Higher Education

    CDC Interim Guidance for Higher Education

    OSHA Guidance on COVID-19 and Worker Safety

    What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus (EEOC)

    Office for Civil Rights Bulletin on HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus

    American College Health Association's Brief and Resources

    Guidance for Faculty

    • Faculty are required to work with their departments and schools to meet their teaching and mentoring obligations if online instruction becomes necessary. Faculty cannot opt out of online measures. If teaching moves online for the remainder of the spring semester while the University remains open, faculty are expected to remain on campus for other activities and responsibilities as directed by their dean or department chair.
    • Faculty normally travel frequently to conferences and meetings, domestically and abroad. However, all Penn-related business travel has been suspended through April 17. The suspension includes travel for scholarly and professional conferences, meetings, and research.
    • Faculty should not make risky personal travel plans that may interfere with their ability to fulfill their teaching and other faculty responsibilities due to future quarantines or unexpected delays.

      Self-quarantine is required of all faculty who have travelled in areas greatly affected by the virus. Do not come to your campus office or facilities during self-quarantine.
    • Faculty who are ill and unable to work should inform their department chairs, deans or campus HR/benefits staff to discuss paid and unpaid leave options. 
    • Faculty in their probationary periods should speak to their chairs, dean or the Vice Provost for Faculty about probationary period extensions if their research is seriously interrupted for an extended period by corona-related illness, whether their own or vital members of their labs or teams.
    • Faculty in clinical roles that expose them to communicable illnesses should take all the recommended precautions. 

    Penn Department Websites

    Penn Global Heightened Travel Risk Homepage

    Register Your Trip – Register your Penn-affiliated trip to keep you connected to Penn resources

    Penn Abroad

    Campus Health Coronavirus Disease Updates Page

    Penn's COVID-19 Task Force

    A University-wide task force has been charged with reviewing—and updating as needed—our existing pandemic planning procedures. It is led by Dr. Benoit Dubé, Chief Wellness Officer, and Michael Fink, Deputy Chief for Tactical and Emergency Readiness of the Penn Police, working with experts across campus and coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies.