President Yager Provides an Update on Masking for the Fall Semester

Originally sent to students August 16, 2022

Dear students,

I hope you have enjoyed a restful summer and are looking forward to the start of the fall semester. As you prepare to do so, I write today to provide an update on our health and safety protocols.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 22, masks will be optional for all members of our community and campus visitors in all of the university’s public spaces, including during performances, special events and other community gatherings. However, masks will still be required during student move-in and in a number of university spaces, including certain classrooms and studios as decided by faculty, and in Health Services and some other offices, where clear signage will indicate the need for a mask. Masks will continue to be available at the Public Safety desks in all university buildings.

As we move into this mask-optional phase of living and learning with COVID-19 as a university, it is imperative that we all keep in mind our more vulnerable community members and continue to prioritize their health and safety. Out of respect and care for one another, please be prepared to uphold the university’s Healthy Promise and to carry a mask with you and wear it in certain spaces and upon request from fellow students, faculty, staff and guests.

We were very fortunate that all cases reported on campus last year were mild or asymptomatic, a trend that I am encouraged will continue this year. As we evaluate the spread of this latest variant, BA.5, we will offer resources and guidance once updated booster shots become available. To help maintain community safety, please consider conducting a rapid COVID-19 antigen test, which can be ordered for free from the federal government, before you arrive on campus for the fall. If you test positive, please delay your arrival on campus and contact to make alternate arrangements.

Since the start of the pandemic, our COVID Response Team has provided critical support by interpreting guidance set forth by public health officials, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and our peer institutions. As such, our policies for the fall may be altered as circumstances and guidance change. Please bookmark and regularly check for up-to-date information, and be sure to review Health Services’ COVID positive, testing and isolation protocols before arriving on campus. Though we retired our COVID-19 dashboard this summer, you may access case count, testing and additional data for the city by visiting the Department of Public Health’s website.

In addition, the university has already received numerous questions about the spread of monkeypox, which the U.S. declared a public health emergency last week. As of now, Philadelphia has experienced a small fraction of the cases reported nationwide. Monkeypox is a much different virus than COVID-19 and spreads through close personal contact, often skin-to-skin, though it appears to share some similar initial symptoms. While an effective vaccine is available, it remains scarce, so taking adequate steps to protect yourself is critical to prevention. Monkeypox is not an airborne virus and therefore does not spread easily in the classroom and studio environment. We will continue to follow guidance from public health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and monitor local and national case counts and trends. Additional resources regarding monkeypox are available through Health Services and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s website.

As we look to the start of another successful academic year, I’d like to reiterate my gratitude for this community and its steadfast support and commitment to one another throughout the pandemic. The grace and empathy you and your fellow students have displayed throughout it have been truly inspirational. I look forward to seeing you on campus at the end of this month.


David Yager
President and CEO