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June 02, 2021

Penn mandates all faculty, staff must be fully vaccinated by August

Employees who decline to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will still be required to undergo weekly testing and wear face masks indoors

Education COVID-19
Penn employees COVID-19 vaccine Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

Fully vaccinated faculty and staff at the University of Pennsylvania are encouraged to submit their COVID-19 vaccine information by July 1, the school said.

The University of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday that it is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine requirement to faculty, staff and postdoctoral trainees ahead of the fall 2021 semester.

All university employees must be fully vaccinated by no later than Aug. 1, the school said in a statement. Beginning in two weeks, workers will need to start reporting their COVID-19 vaccination status online to the school.

Fully vaccinated faculty and staff should have their COVID-19 vaccine info submitted by July 1, Penn officials said. New hires and those vaccinated after July 1 should record their COVID-19 vaccine status as soon as possible.

Starting July 1, fully vaccinated employees will be exempt from both weekly COVID-19 testing by the school and daily screenings for coronavirus symptoms. Anyone fully vaccinated after July 1 will then be exempt as well.

Faculty, staff and postdoctoral trainees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to continue screening themselves daily for COVID-19 symptoms, receive a coronavirus test every week and wear face masks while indoors.

The school is also lifting all social distancing requirements and capacity limits for classrooms, labs, offices and other university spaces. Face masks are still required indoors, but are no longer required outdoors on campus for fully vaccinated people.

"As we look ahead to a vibrant fall semester, with a full resumption of in-person teaching, research and university operations, maintaining a safe and healthy environment for the entire Penn community remains our highest priority," school officials stated.

The university said in April that employees were not required, but strongly encouraged, to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, Penn's employees now join the university's undergraduate and graduate student body under mandate to receive a COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the fall semester. 

The school is requiring COVID-19 vaccine documentation from all full-time and part-time students by July 1. Exemptions are only being granted for medical and religious reasons.

The university said it will provide COVID-19 vaccines to students who are not inoculated upon their return to campus this fall. Students will need to self-quarantine for two weeks after receiving their first dose on campus. 

The school is also developing guidelines for international students who received COVID-19 vaccines that have not yet been authorized in the U.S.

Penn students who are not vaccinated or who are unable to provide documentation will be prohibited from registering for classes.

Another local institution requiring its employees be fully vaccinated ahead of the 2021-22 academic year is Rowan University. The school is currently developing employee vaccine incentives that are in compliance with union regulations.

Rowan is also requiring all students who live on campus, in affiliated housing off-campus or attend in-person classes to be fully vaccinated, too. Other local schools that are requiring their students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine ahead the fall semester include Drexel, Rutgers, Stockton, Lehigh and Princeton.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued updated guidance last week saying that employers could mandate workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to the office. 

But any COVID-19 vaccine mandate must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, the agency said, citing that the ADA requires businesses to keep some health information confidential.

The EEOC also said that employers are permitted to offer incentives for their employees to get vaccinated, as long as they aren't coercive. 

Penn Medicine said last month that it is requiring all health system employees and clinical staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1. 

Starting July 1, all new hires must provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine or be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before starting work. The health system said it will only allow medical and religious exemptions.

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