COVID-19 Information and Digital Resources Remote Resources & Activities

The Grad Center is committed to supporting all graduate and professional students and is working with campus partners to provide resources and opportunities for virtual engagement to help you stay connected and academically successful while on-campus operations remain limited. 

Announcements & Official Information  Grad Center Resources 

Resources and Support   Virtual Activities  

Have an idea for a virtual program or resource to promote academic skills or community building? Know of a program or resource you would like us to highlight here or on social media? Share it with us using this form

Grad Center Resources and Support

The Graduate Student Center remains closed at this time, in accordance with state and University policies and guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Grad Center staff are available to provide assistance and support to all Penn graduate and professional students. Email or use this form to connect with us.
Stay connected and informed: 

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The Office of the Deputy Provost and the Graduate Student Center will be providing temporary study/relaxation space for graduate and professional students in the Ben Franklin Room on the 2nd floor of Houston Hall. This space will be available for graduate and professional students Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm, by reservation (1-5 days in advance) at the Graduate Student Center website.

Announcements and Official Information
University Announcements and Policies

The University of Pennsylvania has instituted mitigation practices and policies in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Student Campus Compact
ALL students enrolled during the 2020-21 academic year are expected to adhere to the expectations for physical distancing and public behavior detailed in the Student Campus Compact. 

Student Campus Compact

Please note: In addition to behavioral and COVID-19 testing expectations, the Campus Compact requires all enrolled students to receive a flu shot this year. PSIP and many other insurers cover the flu shot for free. Students can receive a flu shot at Student Health or your primary care provider.

COVID-19 Testing Information

The Penn Cares public-health response to COVID-19 for the Spring 2021 semester includes a comprehensive testing strategy. Developed in partnership with Penn Medicine, it uses three distinct channels. Gateway testing helps to minimize the likelihood that persons arriving on campus can transmit infection, and provides a statistical baseline for tracking positivity rates. The official Penn screening test program uses an FDA-approved protocol and state-certified labs on campus to analyze saliva samples collected noninvasively to monitor transmission rates in the Penn population. Symptomatic individuals, those testing positive in screening, and close contacts of positive cases are tested using nasal swabs. These results are used to isolate confirmed cases and perform contact tracing. 

For the Spring 2021 semester, graduate and professional students engaged in research activities on campus or living in the area will be required to be tested for COVID-19 once per week. Screening testing is available by appointment only. Those enrolled in surveillance testing can make an appointment and indicate your consent to testing (view copy of the consent form) by visiting the new web-based scheduling application. If you need assistance, please consult this tip sheet (PDF).

Any Penn student who needs to schedule a one-time COVID-19 test can do so by following the instructions provided on the Wellness COVID-19 page. This includes students who believe they may have been exposed to or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 

Students can look up their own test results in the new student results portal at: 

Student Testing Resources 

Visit the COVID-19 Dashboard

VIDEO: What To Expect When You Saliva Test


2020-21 Academic Year Information
The University will be opening up limited on-campus housing and expanding testing during the Spring 2021 semester. Instruction will still continue to be virtual with limited exceptions. Graduate and professional students engaged in research activities on campus or living in the area will be required to be tested for COVID-19 once per week.

University Coronavirus Information Page  

Presidential Messages

University Spring 2021 Planning 

Academic Issues and Resources

COVID-19 FAQs for Students

FAQ for Current International Students

Research Resumption Plans and Resources 

Penn Cares Button


Wellness at Penn and Penn Public Health have partnered to create new social media accounts to serve as a central source of COVID-19 information for the Penn community.

Be sure to follow @COVIDPenn on Instagram & Twitter for the latest guidance & public health information from Penn!

last updated: December 4, 2020
Campus Facilities and Basic Services

Most campus departments and offices are continuing to provide services remotely. Please check official websites for the most up-to-date information. 

Unfortunately, bias-motivated attacks have been reported in Philadelphia and around the country. Penn’s Division of Public Safety supports the physical and emotional wellbeing of all Penn communities. Should any member of our community receive any threatening messages or become the victim of a criminal act, or see suspicious activity that should be indicative of a future act of violence, regardless of the location of the occurrence, please call the Division of Public Safety’s Emergency Communications Center immediately at 215-573-3333

Request a Walking Escort: Penn Public Safety and the University District Ambassador Program are available to provide Walking Escorts from 10:00am until 3:00am between 30th & 50th and Spring Garden Street to Woodland Avenue. Students can call 215-898-WALK (9255) 

Penn Transit and Parking
Penn Transit is operating on a limited schedule. All Penn Transit riders are required to display a valid institutional identification card and a “green” PennOpen Screening Pass before entering a vehicle.

The Transportation and Parking Office is open Monday - Friday from 9AM to 4PM. Staff may also be contacted at For up-to-date transit and parking information, go to:

Penn’s on-demand Evening Shuttles and Penn Accessible Transit services will continue to operate as normal. Shuttles provide free transportation from campus stops to anywhere in the service boundaries between 20th & 50th and Spring Garden Street to Woodland Avenue.

Penn Libraries 
At this time all Penn Libraries buildings remain closed, in-person events are canceled until further notice, and access to library facilities is limited to a small number of library staff. 

More information about Library services can be found under "Academic and Research Support" on this page. Learn more about phased library service availability on the Penn Libraries' COVID-19 FAQs page.

Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center has opened limited seating for individual study Monday-Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm and Fridays noon to 5 pm. All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to reserve seats (at least 12 hours in advance). You must comply with Penn's COVID-19 testing protocols, showing your reservation and PennOpen Green Pass for entry. Learn more and make reservations at the Penn Libraries website

Penn Dining 
Penn Dining is open and is providing limited service. Visit the Penn Dining Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources page for the most up-to-date information. Please be aware that hours and locations are subject to change. 

  • Only students with a Green PennOpen Pass will be allowed to enter Dining facilities. Students with a Red PennOpen Pass can follow instructions on the Penn Dining site
  • Sharing food remains a high-risk activity, necessitating a slow transition. Penn Dining has begun piloting 25% seating capacity at Starbucks in 1920 Commons, with reservations in the Penn Eats app
  • Additional indoor dining options will be determined and communicated in the coming weeks. 

Penn On-Campus Housing 
Information and resources for campus residents can be found at Information specific to the Spring 2021 semester is available at

last updated: March 3, 2021
Spring 2021
In-Person Events & Activities

In accordance with the Campus Compact, all students agree to participate in student life activities virtually unless otherwise given explicit, official approval by a Penn staff person to convene in person and to refrain from organizing, hosting, or attending any events or gatherings that do not comply with university and government public safety protocols and guidelines.

In-Person Event Request Form 

Beginning February 1, 2021 Penn undergraduate, graduate, and professional student organizations may submit requests for in-person meetings, rehearsals, and/or events (“events”) which the group hopes to hold this semester, indoors or outdoors. Student groups should not request consideration more than two weeks before the desired date, as all requests must be evaluated based on the prevailing public health guidance at the time of submission. 

  • Student organizations must make a compelling case why the activity cannot take place virtually.
  • Groups proceeding with unapproved in-person events risk referral to the Campus Compact Review Panel.
  • Each request will be sorted into one of three tiers based on the nature and complexity of proposed event.   
  • Requests may be denied for myriad reasons. Approved events are not guaranteed and may be cancelled if public health guidance necessitates.

In-person events with students proposed by faculty or staff will be reviewed by the appropriate school or center. 

Tier 1 Events

  • Tier 1 requests support a virtual activity. 
  • Example: A grab-and-go, where students meet at a designated space, indoors or outdoors, to pick up individually packaged materials (craft projects, goodie bags, apparel) for use in a Zoom event. 
  • Tier 1 requests will be quickly evaluated.  

Tier 2 Events

  • Tier 2 requests must demonstrate a compelling reason to be held in person, indoors or outdoors. 
  • Examples: Religious ceremonies, in-person medical training, or campus filming. 
  • Tier 2 requests require additional review and groups should expect a slight delay in response.

Tier 3 Events

  • Tier 3 requests are for complex or major events potentially including a large number of students indoors or outdoors. 
  • Examples: Modified class or University tradition, community engagement activity. 
  • Tier 3 requests will be thoroughly reviewed, necessitating the longest evaluation time.

In-Person Event Request Form 

Philadelphia Region

City of Philadelphia

Official Information & Updates

The City of Philadelphia has lifted some restrictions after the "Safer at Home" Restriction period ended January 15, 2021. You can learn more about the latest guidance for a wide range of community events, businesses, organizations, and schools, please see our guidance page.

These restrictions are in addition to existing general guidance for colleges and universities, as well as special guidance for university students to limit all in-person social interaction to those within their household until further notice. 

Additional information and updates: 

  • Statewide: Pennsylvania COVID-19 Guide at
  • Philadelphia
    • Philadelphia COVID-19 website :
    • COVID-19 Text Alerts: Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone.
    • Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline: Call the 24/7 helpline to speak with a health care professional. 1-800-722-7112

The School District and City of Philadelphia have announced a plan to provide grab-and-go meals and drop-in activity spaces for all Philadelphia students while our schools are closed. Details, including the list of sites, are available here

The School District's coronavirus information web page for families: 

SEPTA, PATCO, and NJTransit are all running, though with cancellations and changes due to decreased ridership and staffing issues. All transit authorities are taking preventive steps by boosting cleaning efforts.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike will stop accepting cash and credit for tolls at 8 p.m. on March 16. All tolls will be collected by E-ZPass or “toll by plate.”

Utilities and Essential Services 

Learn more about city services and support for individuals.

All non-essential City of Philadelphia government operations have halted, and all City government buildings are closed to the public. Find out which essential City services are still open and how you can get them.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is still operating on a regular schedule, and is reviewing and revising its contingency plans.

The Free Library of Philadelphia is closed. The Montgomery County Libraries are closed. If you have a library card, you can access a number of materials for free online.

Information for seniors, individuals with disabilities, and others needing public assistance. Please check the Assistance Programs section of this page for additional assistance available to those in need. 

Helplines and Crisis Services 

  • Philadelphia’s mental health and addiction services hotlines are operating.
  • The Community Behavioral Health hotline is open 24 hours a day at 888-545-2600.
  • If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call the city’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 215-685-6440.
  • If you need immediate help with opioid addiction treatment, call the NET Access Point, the 24-hour service that connects people with treatment, at 844-533-8200 or 215-408-4987, or visit their website.
  • If you need intellectual disability services, call 215-685-5900.
  • The city also has a website providing free online behavioral health screenings, available 24 hours a day.

Protections from abuse and domestic violence 

  • Legal advice and support related to domestic violence
    During normal business hours, residents can call the Women Against Abuse Legal Center at (215) 686-7082 and leave a message with a safe number for an advocate to call them back.
  • The Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline remains open 24/7. For help, call at (866) 723-3014.
  • Protection from Abuse Orders
    Residents can file for emergency Protection from Abuse Orders (PFAs) at the Stout Center for Criminal Justice. Services are available 24/7 at:
    Stout Center for Criminal Justice
    1301 Filbert St., Room B-03
    Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Women’s Law Project has information about protection from abuse orders and other domestic violence resources.

Grocery Stores 
Many grocery stores are providing designated shopping hours for those over 60 and/or immunocompromised, including:

  • Giant: 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. every day, for 60+ and the immunocompromised. Find your local store at
  • Acme: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every weekday, for people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems. Find a store at
  • Target: An hour before normal store opening every Wednesday, for seniors and people with health conditions. Find your local store at
  • Whole Foods: An hour before store opening time. Find your local store at



Visit's COVID-19 page for statewide alerts and notices. 

Individuals in Pennsylvania who lost a job or have reduced hours due to coronavirus may be eligible for food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, cash assistance, or assistance with utilities. Visit for more information.

Montgomery County 
Visit the Montgomery County Alert Center for updates on COVID-19 related alerts.

Delaware County
Visit the Delaware County Coronavirus web page for updates on closures and restrictions.

Bucks County
Visit the Bucks County COVID-19 web page for updates on closures and restrictions. 

Chester County
Visit the Chester County Alert Center for updates on services, restrictions, and notices. 

Southeastern New Jersey

Visit's Health website for COVID-19 information or call the hotline: 1-800-962-1253 

Camden County
Visit the Camden County News Page for updates and information. 

Last updated January 13, 2021

Campus Compact 

The Spring 2021 Campus Compact outlines behavioral expectations for all Penn students regardless of where you are living during the Spring 2021 semester. As always, the university is closely monitoring public health guidance and will communicate updates to the Compact as needed.

Students living in Philadelphia are also expected to follow university student guidelines and restrictions from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

Resources and Support
Health and Wellness

Rest & Recharge 
As a reminder, PhD and research master’s degree students will have three days off from classes and assignments in the coming weeks: 

  • Friday, February 12 
  • Tuesday, March 30 
  • Monday, April 12 

Professional students should check with your programs regarding plans for these days. If the days are available to you, we urge you to use them to rest and recharge – relax, unplug, and take part in the virtual events of these three Engagement Days.  

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS is offering counseling sessions by phone or video conference, as well as in person. CAPS is available for students seeking drop-in or individual appointments. To schedule an appointment, dial 215-898-7021 and press 2 to speak to the Front Desk (M-F, 9am-5pm) or you can press 1 to talk to a clinician 24/7. For more information, visit

CAPS also provides support groups for students on various topics, including groups for those experiencing racial trauma and grief.

Your Mental Health and COVID-19: Tips and resources to help you cope with COVID-19, including dealing with issues of bias, coping skills, and more. CAPS also introduced Wellnest, a gamified, mindfulness app that promotes self-reflection and journaling in a fun and creative way. You can download the Wellnest app on your iOS device or join Wellnest on their web-based app

The Office of the Chaplain | SPARC
The Chaplain / SPARC staff is available to students, faculty and staff for pastoral support, guidance, or informal advising and counseling via phone or video chat. 

Student Health Services
Student Health Services remains available for students in need of medical services. Visit their website for more information: SHS services are available for free to all students who pay the clinical fee.  

Students with medical emergencies should utilize emergency medical services and dial 911. 

Please note: In addition to behavioral and COVID-19 testing expectations, the Campus Compact requires all enrolled students to receive a flu shot this year. PSIP and many other insurers cover the flu shot for free. Students can receive a flu shot at Student Health or your primary care provider.

Important changes to PSIP in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

Please contact the Insurance Office at 215 746 3535 or with any questions.

COVID-19 Testing Information
Any Penn student who needs to schedule a one-time COVID-19 test can do so by following the instructions provided on the Wellness COVID-19 page. This includes students who believe they may have been exposed to or who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 

Students who are living or working in congregate settings or who otherwise wish to participate in more routine testing should sign up to participate in surveillance testing. Students should complete this form and agree to show up for weekly testing in order to participate.

Students can look up their own test results in the new student results portal at: 

One call to the HELP LINE can assist you in finding personal and mental health support, 215-898-HELP.

Additional Resources and Information 

Wellness and Engagement Resources 

Last updated: February 24, 2021


Technology & Software Access

All Penn students have unlimited data storage via Penn+Box, a cloud-based collaboration service for securely managing and sharing files and folders within the Penn community and externally. Users can access, create, manage, and distribute content across various device types and operating systems via Single Sign On (SSO). 

Used to using a whiteboard for teaching, research, or office hours? CTL has some low- & medium-tech solutions you can use in live and recorded sessions! Many also recommend low-cost tablets for simulating whiteboards

Penn Libraries Virtual Support page provides a range of guides, tutorials, and support services to help with virtual classes. The Penn Libraries software guide includes tutorials and information on virtual meeting platforms — including Adobe Connect, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, and Zoom

The Using Electronic Resources guide provides information on accessing e-resources, optimal browser settings, as well as common connection problems and solutions.

Internet and Phone Service 
Information about free and low-cost internet & wi-fi access and updates made to mobile phone service plans to help support individuals during the COVID-19 crisis.

IT Support
Penn Information Systems & Computing (ISC) has put together a Remote IT Support Guide to assist students with accessing and using virtual instruction and software. Please click on a link below to jump to a section in the guide: 

Last updated: November 30, 2020
Academic and Research Support

Graduate Study Space
The Office of the Deputy Provost and the Graduate Student Center will be providing temporary study/relaxation space for graduate and professional students in the Ben Franklin Room on the 2nd floor of Houston Hall. This space will be available for graduate and professional students Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 4 pm, by reservation (1-5 days in advance) at the Graduate Student Center website.

Penn Libraries 
Penn Libraries Virtual Support page provides the information you’ll need to access digital content, collaborate with research partners, and directly consult with librarians. They have been working with academic publishers to make additional virtual content openly available. In addition, subject librarians are standing by to support online teaching, research, and learning throughout the rest of the semester.

The following services are available for physical books located in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, the Libraries’ Research Annex (LIBRA), Fisher Fine Arts Library, and the Museum Library:

  • Books by Mail for current Penn students, faculty, and staff within North America. International requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Pickup@Penn enables members of the Penn community to request books and pick them up outside Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center.

**Update**  Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center has opened limited seating for individual study Monday-Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm and Fridays noon to 5 pm. All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are eligible to reserve seats (at least 12 hours in advance). You must comply with Penn's COVID-19 testing protocols, showing your reservation and PennOpen Green Pass for entry. Learn more and make reservations at the Penn Libraries website

If you have books or personal materials in a carrel, email to arrange a pick-up or register for Books By Mail to have books and personal items shipped to you.

Additional resources and information : 

Weingarten Learning Resources Center 
The Weingarten Center staff is working remotely but will continue to support students by providing academic assistance (e.g., individual consultations with learning instructors, tutoring) through virtual platforms and by overseeing the implementation of accommodations for students with disabilities.

  • The Office of Learning Resources (OLR) is offering virtual access to academic support resources and advising. Students can schedule 50-minute virtual meetings or sign up for 25-minute virtual drop-in sessions with a learning instructor via the MyWLRC portal to discuss their study strategies and approaches to a variety of academic assignments and assessments. More details at

  • Student Disabilities Services staff members are available by phone and email to answer questions from members of the University community about accessibility and accommodations. For information explaining how SDS will provide the most common support services in the virtual classroom environment, visit Contact SDS directly by email or phone (215-573-9235) with any additional questions or concerns.

Contact the Weingarten Center at 215-573-9235 to get updated information about Student Disabilities Services, Office of Learning Resources, and Tutoring Services and to be connected with a staff member who can address your needs.

Writing Center 
The Writing Center provides writing support to graduate students enrolled in credit-bearing courses during specific hoursGraduate students are able to schedule appointments by selecting the schedule "Graduate Tutoring: Spring 2021" on the left of our online scheduling system. All appointments must be scheduled ahead of time and will be conducted online. Please email for assistance.  

A guide to scheduling and attending online writing consultations is available at (PDF, opens in new tab) 

Those students in time zones not well-suited to Writing Center hours should contact Stacy Kastner, PhD, Associate Director of The Writing Center.   

COVID-19 Related Academic Resources and FAQ 

Additional Academic Resources and Support

Last updated: February 3, 2021
Support for Teaching Remotely

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Online Learning Initiative (OLI) have partnered to provide a guide to strategies and tools for teaching remotely. Check out the guide to teaching remotely at

CTL is also offering a series of online workshops related to teaching remotely. More details at

Used to using a whiteboard for teaching or office hours? CTL has some low- & medium-tech solutions you can use in live and recorded sessions! Many also recommend low-cost tablets for simulating whiteboards

Penn Libraries Virtual Support page provides a range of guides, tutorials, and support services to help with virtual classes.

The Penn Libraries software guide includes tutorials and information on virtual meeting platforms — including Adobe Connect, BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, and Zoom

The Using Electronic Resources guide provides information on accessing e-resources, optimal browser settings, as well as common connection problems and solutions.

Last updated: December 9, 2020
Student Groups and Organizations

Until further notice, all student group and social activities should be conducted virtually to the extent possible.

Current guidance from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health instructs college and university students to avoid ALL social gatherings with people outside of their household. Penn students in the Philadelphia area are expected to comply with this and other guidelines, as indicated in the Student Campus Compact.

All student groups should review and comply with the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) Fall 2020 Rules for Student Group Operations (9.2.20). Additional updates and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) can be found on the OSA website

There are a number of resources and tools available for groups planning virtual activities and engagement, including: 

General Tips and Suggestions 

  • Update your group's PennClubs page, website and social media pages - stay active online and engage new members! 
  • Create new goals and objectives for your organization to reflect the nature of this semester. 

Group Meetings 

  • Continue to meet virtually on a regular basis 
  • Consider alternating or varying meeting times to accommodate members in other time zones 
  • Meet with your group faculty/staff adviser, OSA, or the Grad Center Director for support and guidance
  • Establish a communication plan with your exec team, adviser, and organization
  • Continue to build community with your organization members with online group activities
  • Maintain an online social media presence as an organization
  • Make an effort to recognize members and their contributions online
  • Try to conclude each meeting with a discussion of "what happens next?" - Summarize the meeting, review tasks that were assigned, discuss next meeting time or when you will talk next

Connection and Communication 
Think creatively about the best ways to share information and connect with one another while remote. 

  • Communication platforms and tools include: FaceTime, GroupMe, Phone calls (!), Social media groups/pages, Slack/Teams/Discord 
  • Social media takeovers: assign a member for a day/week to take over the org’s account and share their personal story, reflections, or favorite posts 
  • Video challenges: Use TikTok, IG Reels, or other tools to challenge your members - or other student groups - to fun video challenges 
  • Q&A: Use social media or online polls to help other students learn more about your organization and how to get/stay involved
  • Memories and Stories: share older posts or photos as a way of highlighting favorite events and memories or to share stories about your members and activities. 

See additional resources and information for student groups in our resource guide.

Support for Specific Populations

International Students
International students who have questions about travel and visas can contact ISSS directly to schedule virtual advising:

Although International Student & Scholar Service's (ISSS) in-person services remain suspended, ISSS advisors are available by email or virtual advising appointment. For instructions, visit

ISSS has created a list of Frequently Asked Questions related to COVID-19 at and is scheduling a series of virtual town halls and webinars (

Students leaving the United States do not need a travel signature on your I-20/DS-2019 before exiting the country. Before you return to the US, please complete the Travel Signature request form in iPenn. Once your request has been approved, please complete the Shipping Request form and your document will be mailed to you. 

last updated: August 14

Students and Postdocs with Children 
The Family Resource Center facility will remain closed through the spring semester. Family Center staff remain available to advise and meet with students, postdocs, and campus partners via phone, email, or Skype. 

Visit the Family Center Virtual Resources Page with special resources for parents and families during the COVID-19 outbreak and connect with other students, faculty, and staff parents through the Parents at Penn group on Facebook. 

Working from home while juggling caregiving can be a challenge, and many of you have asked for neighborhood-based approaches to help meet your caregiving needs. In response, Penn has launched Caregiver Connections, a new online platform for faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdocs who are also caregivers to build connections and find support in our local neighborhoods. We welcome feedback on this pilot program as we aim to develop the most useful solutions for members of the Penn community.

last updated: February 10

Students with Disabilities 
Student Disabilities Services is currently offering virtual support services for students in online classes. While the physical office is closed, SDS staff members are available by phone and email to answer questions from members of the University community about accessibility and accommodations.

For information about how SDS will provide the most common support services in the virtual classroom environment, visit Contact SDS directly by email or phone (215-573-9235) with any additional questions or concerns.

last updated: March 16

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Resources

Visit the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion section of our resource guide for additional resources and information. 

Public Assistance Programs Coronavirus Resources
On, you can find government benefits related to unemployment assistancehealthcare, and food and nutrition. You can also use the Benefit Finder to find additional benefits for which you may be eligible. 

To learn more and stay up to date about the steps you can take to keep safe and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, refer to, offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the White House. You can also visit to learn more about the government's response to the outbreak. 

Public Benefits for PA Residents 
Individuals in Pennsylvania who lost a job or have reduced hours due to coronavirus may be eligible for food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid, cash assistance, or assistance with utilities. Visit for more information. 

Assistance for Philadelphia Renters and Homeowners
There are resources available to help Philadelphia renters and homeowners facing housing issues during the pandemic. For more information, visit:

Unemployment Resources 

If you are facing unemployment or a lapse in employment due to the coronavirus, the following resources may be available to you:  

Under the Federal CARES Act, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) expanded eligibility for individuals who have traditionally been ineligible for unemployment benefits. Individuals covered under PUA include the self-employed, those unable to start a new job, those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits.

To apply for unemployment assistance, please contact your State Unemployment Assistance Agency. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Unemployment Assistance Page

Economic Impact Payments (stimulus checks)
First check: According to the IRS, stimulus checks will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people. Eligible taxpayers, who filed tax returns for either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples. Parents will receive $500 for each qualifying child. Visit the IRS Economic Impact Payment Information Center to learn more. 

Second check: Eligible individuals who filed a 2019 joint tax return will receive up to $1,200, and all other eligible individuals will receive up to $600. Those with qualifying children on their 2019 tax return will receive up to $600 in additional payment per qualifying child. Visit the IRS Questions and Answers about the Second Economic Impact Payment page for more information.

For more information specific to Social Security during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit the U.S. Social Security Administration's Coronavirus Disease Page

Resources for Families in Need
For families requiring temporary assistance during the outbreak, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program can help provide financial assistance and related support.

Philadelphia residents who are pregnant or caring for an infant or toddler: see a list of resources and free supplies available to you and your family during COVID-19.

Food and Nutrition
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves millions of people annually, ensuring that they and their families have access to nutritious food options. The SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides for the special dietary needs of nursing and pregnant women, infants, and children under the age of five.

Additional federal programs can be found on the Food and Nutrition Page. See additional food assistance programs and food banks in the "Other Assistance Programs" box on this page. 

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps provide low-income families with their heating and cooling energy costs. See a state-by-state list of utility assistance programs on the Housing and Public Utilities Page 

For Philadelphia and Pennsylvania specific utility assistance programs, please visit the city of Philadelphia's support for residents page.

Other Assistance Programs & Discounts

211 Help
United Way-supported 211Help connects you to a specialist in your area who can put you in touch with organizations that provide critical services like food, housing, and utility programs and more.

Banking and Credit
Some banks and credit card companies are waiving fees on missed credit card payments or waiving early withdrawal penalties for those who are out of work and need access to money. Visit official websites for more details 

Wifi, data, and internet. 
See information about free and low-cost Internet and Phone Service available to local residents.

Comcast is offering unlimited data for customers and making its wifi hotspots free for everyone. Customers can sign up for the service by visiting or call 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

Numerous Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have signed an FCC Agreement stating that from March 13 until June 30, 2020, companies will not terminate service for customers, will waive late fees, and will open access to public WiFi hotspots.

Many ISPs are making additional accommodations to assist customers. Offerings may change, so please check with your provider(s) for current promotions and be sure to check their eligibility requirements, terms, and conditions.

See this guide to internet and mobile service plans for those with financial need for more information about qualifying for discounts on internet, computers, and resources to stay connected remotely. 

Free meal services in Philadelphia
While schools are closed or operating virtually, the school district is coordinating with the City’s Office of Children and Families, Parks & Recreation, and many other departments and nonprofit partners to provide meal service in safe spaces throughout the city.

Food Assistance 
Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services offers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to help low-income households get more food. Applications can be submitted online or filed in person at your county assistance officeFor additional information and resources, visit the Department of Human Services website.

The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger connects people with food assistance programs and nutrition education; provides resources to a network of food pantries; and educates the public and policymakers about responsible solutions to food insecurity. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, you can call the WHY Hunger Hotline at 1-800-5-HUNGRY or visit

  • Philadelphia
    The City of Philadelphia and partners are providing free food for households and students at sites throughout the city.  
  • Montgomery County 
    Visit MontCo Anti-Hunger Network for the latest information on food pantries in Montgomery County.

Many area food banks were still operating with adjusted or limited hours. Please call in advance.  Many food pantries and banks are also accepting volunteers and donations. 

  • Philabundance 3616 South Galloway Street Philadelphia, PA 19148
  • Food Bank of South Jersey 1501 John Tipton Blvd. Pennsauken, NJ 08110
  • Share Food Program 2901 W. Hunting Park Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19129
  • Mary's Cupboard 100 Levittown Parkway Levittown, PA 19054
  • Manna on Main Street 606 E. Main Street Lansdale, PA 19446
  • Narberth Community Food Bank 201 Sabine Avenue, 2nd Floor Narberth, PA 19072
  • St. Mark's United Methodist Church Food Pantry 220 S. Sproul Rd. Broomall, PA 19008
  • Chester County Food Bank 650 Pennsylvania Drive Exton, PA 19341

Virtual Activities and Things to Do
Health and Wellness

The Basics

In order to be there for anyone else, you have to first take care of yourself. 

Outdoor Recreation

Social distancing doesn't have to mean staying indoors. Explore new parts of the city or visit one of Philadelphia's many urban parks! Remember to wear a mask and stay 6 ft away when other people are around. Not in Philadelphia? Look for parks and other outdoor recreation opportunities near you. 

Mental Health and Coping Resources 

Mindfulness and Meditation


Campus Recreation and Fitness Centers

Penn Campus Recreation facilities and programs remain suspended until further notice. For more information visit the Penn Campus Rec COVID-19 page.

Campus Recreation has developed a remote resource hub to help keep the Penn Community active and connected to favorite Philadelphia area studios, Penn Alumni, and more! You can also learn more about individual programs and schedule virtual consultations by visiting the Campus Recreation member portal

Starting Monday, March 1, Campus Rec is offering in-person outdoor classes through May 7, 2021! Both in-person outdoor and virtual group exercise classes will be free to all members of the Penn Community.  To claim your free virtual group exercise membership, visit the Campus Recreation Member Portal here. Members must register for each class individually on the Member Portal.  Additional information can be found on the Group Exercise webpage.

The Franklin Field Track will reopen for Open Recreation on Monday, February 1st. Membership and advance registration is required.  o claim your Open Recreation membership, visit the Campus Recreation Member Portal. Reservations can be made online.  More information about the reservation process and facility policies can be found by viewing the Policies & Procedures.

The Pottruck Health & Fitness Center will reopen to Graduate Students on Monday, February 15th. Watch the Pottruck Health & Fitness Center Reopening Video here. Advance reservations are required and must be made online.  More information about the reservation process and facility policies can be found by viewing the Policies & Procedures. Hours of operation will be Monday through Friday 9am - 7pm, Saturday 9am - 1pm, and Sunday 12pm - 4pm.

Online Fitness Classes

Feeling restless or missing your regular workouts? Try out these online fitness routines and streaming workouts you can do from home! 

Last updated: February 26, 2021
Social Connection

Penn Community Connections

Want to connect with other members of the Penn graduate and professional student community? Here are a few ways you can meet new people or engage with the community from a distance. 

Peer Accountability Groups 
Whether you're working on a long-term project, writing a dissertation, trying to maintain healthy habits, or want to connect with others with similar goals, forming an accountability group with other students is a great way to help one another stay motivated and make progress towards reaching your goals, by providing accountability and encouragement along the way. Learn more and sign up at

Grad Center Virtual Coffee Hours
Fridays at 12:00 PM (Eastern) starting in September
Bring your favorite cup of coffee and connect virtually with graduate students and Grad Center staff. Details on our events page

Virtual Skill Share 
Share Your Skills!
Do you teach yoga, knit/crochet, or have another hobby or skill you think other grad students would be interested in learning? Share it with the Penn graduate community in a virtual program or video or through one-on-one skill sharing. Use this form to get started!

Penn Cultural & Identity Centers Weekly Virtual Chats
VPUL cultural and identity centers offer weekly virtual chats to connect with students and staff. 

Information for Student Groups 
The Office of Student Activities has put together a Frequently Asked Questions page for Student Groups in response to altered University operations during the pandemic.

Staying Connected Beyond Penn 

Quarantine Chat 
Speak on the phone with someone else who is stuck at home due to COVID-19 (via iOS or Android). QuarantineChat simulates the magic of having a surprise conversation with someone—something that is becoming increasingly rare during the times of a viral epidemic.

StoryCorps gives people of all backgrounds, typically two at a time, the opportunity to record meaningful conversations and archives the recordings at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps conversations can be recorded in person, with the StoryCorps app, or through your web browser. 

Last updated: February 24, 2021 
Academic and Professional Development

We understand that the disruptions and uncertainty of this period make it difficult or even impossible to balance life with school and work obligations. We encourage and support you in prioritizing your own wellness and relationships at this time.

The resources and suggested activities below are provided for those who wish to dedicate some time to academic and professional development or who are seeking concrete ways to continue learning and growing while research or other developmental activities are suspended. The Graduate Student Center posts recordings of our academic workshops on our Recent Workshops page (PennKey login required). You can also learn more about the Academic and Intellectual programs we offer on our website.

Online Learning Platforms, Open Courseware, and MOOCs

  • Coursera
    hundreds of free courses taught by top instructors from world-class universities and companies, on a wide range of academic, professional, and personal development topics. Free courses give you access to on-demand video lectures, homework exercises, and community discussion forums. 

  • edX
    Supporting learners at every stage, whether entering the job market, changing fields, seeking a promotion, or exploring new interests, edX delivers courses for curious minds on topics ranging from data and computer science to leadership and communications. 

  • Alison
    Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. It is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to making it possible for anyone, to study anything, anywhere, at any time, for free, online, at any subject level. Through our mission we are a catalyst for positive social change, creating opportunity, prosperity, and equality for everyone.

  • CodeAcademy
    Basic coding lessons are free 

  • LinkedIn Learning
    Online tutorials and courses on a wide selection of topics, including software products widely used on campus such as the Microsoft Office suite, Google Analytics, and Drupal, as well as topics to enhance key business skills such as project management, marketing, and collaboration. 

Learn (or practice) a language

  • Grad Center Language Chats 
    The Grad Center’s popular language chats have moved online!  Learn more and see currently-scheduled chats at

  • Mango Languages
    Mango uses semantic mapping to help you learn languages through conversations, movies, and other exercises. Access Mango Languages with your Pennkey and password.

  • Duolingo
    Learn a language by translating webpages. Duolingo provides free language courses; you provide the web with translations while you learn.

  • BBC Languages
    BBC Languages offers courses, interactive videos, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and exercises. Listen to the BBC World Service news in 27 languages.

  • Visual Link Languages - Learn a Language
    Created by the U.S. Institute of Language, Visual Link courses offer free language lessons, games, vocabulary, and cultural information.

         You can also access additional language learning resources from Penn Libraries.

Research and Writing  


Career Development 

Build Your Network 

  • QuakerNet and WhartonConnect are now My Penn - a database of Penn graduates and is searchable by industry, employer name, major, degree, student clubs, and more. Update your profile and connect with Penn alumni in your field(s) of interest. 

  • Over 42,000 Quakers have joined the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Group on LinkedIn. This site is a great resource for connecting with classmates, engaging in career-related discussions, learning about job opportunities, and joining Penn school and industry-specific subgroups.

Last updated: March 3, 2021
Service & Engagement Opportunities

We encourage students wishing to engage in service and volunteer opportunities to identify established organizations addressing community needs and to get creative about finding needs and opportunities you can participate in remotely. There are many ways to get involved on campus on our website. Check out our Weekly Ways to Get Engaged posts for even more ways to stay engaged or make a difference in your community! 

DONATE or share VIRTUAL SUPPORT related to the pandemic

  • MASK ON! Philly
    The MASK ON! Philly Project sews face masks for those in need. Volunteers are needed to help sew masks, cut fabric, and drop off the masks to distribution partners. Donations of fabric, mask-making materials, and funds are also greatly appreciated. 
  • PHL COVID-19 Fund
    The PHL COVID-19 Fund will rapidly and equitably deploy solutions and resources to help our nonprofit community navigate near-and longer-term challenges from COVID-19 and ensure that critical resources remain available for those in our community who need it most.

  • Donate PPE and Supplies to Penn Medicine
    Penn Medicine is now accepting donations of personal protective equipment and supplies from the community. For more information, visit
  • Penn Medicine Spread the Love Campaign
    Send notes of gratitude to front-line staff at Penn Medicine. Leave your messages of support, encouragement, and gratitude, and they will be spread system-wide and delivered to our staff. No name or contact information is required but if you'd like to sign your first name and location, you're more than welcome.
  • Support local small businesses (safely)
    Though their locations may remain closed, you can still safely support your neighborhood shops and restaurants.
  • Donate blood to support scientific discoveries
    The purpose of Wistar's phlebotomy service is to collect blood from healthy donors to be used for conducting biomedical research that impacts many areas of human health, particularly cancer and infectious diseases. 

There are many established organizations in Philadelphia seeking volunteers. Students are not required or encouraged to engage in any of these initiatives. These opportunities are completely voluntary. Please contact the sites directly to sign up or with any questions.

  • PHT Rapid Response: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
    Penn Health-Tech is rapidly assembling interdisciplinary teams to address emergent unmet needs related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) with technology solutions. 
  • Submit your COVID-19-related unmet need and breakthrough solution or volunteer to join a team.
    The Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service is working to connect residents to volunteer opportunities with these critical organizations. Residents who wish to support these efforts can sign up for shifts on
  • Netter Center Virtual Community Engagement Opportunities
    The Netter Center has adapted outreach and community partnerships for virtual civic engagement, in collaboration with our community and K12 school partners. Learn more about opportunities through the Netter Center and see a list of remote engagement opportunities
  • Corona Connects is an online database created by Penn students that lets you filter remote and in-person volunteer opportunities by U.S. location and time commitment. Whether you have a few minutes or a few hours; want to teach others or flex your crafting skills; or want to get out or stay inside, there are many ways to make a difference.
  • Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA)
    MANNA uses nutrition to improve health for people with serious illnesses who need nourishment to heal. By providing medically tailored meals and nutrition education, we empower people to improve their health and quality of life. Individual and group volunteer opportunities are available. 
  • Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP)
    PhilWP is a practitioner network, connecting K-university educators with teachers, principals, parents, and out-of-school-time leaders to explore literacy, writing, teaching, and learning across grade levels and disciplines.PhilWP is currently looking for judges to identify exceptional writing among local and regional student work in January 2021. Panels of judges will judge all local writing submissions remotely. Online information sessions and training will be scheduled in November.
  • Give Blood
    The American Red Cross has an ongoing critical need for blood product donations as uncertainties remain during this coronavirus pandemic. Giving blood is considered an essential community service. As part of our nation’s critical infrastructure, healthy individuals can still donate even in areas that have issued shelter-in-place declarations.
  • Smithsonian Digital Volunteers
    Become a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer and help us make historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible.
  • BookShare Virtual Volunteer Opportunities
    Book Share offers thousands of books to people with reading disabilities. As an online volunteer, you can scan books to be added to the collection, edit books that have been scanned and add text descriptions to images.
  • Be My Eyes
    Be My Eyes is a free app that connects individuals with visual impairments with sighted volunteers and company representatives for visual assistance through a live video call.
  • Translators without Borders (TWB)
    TWB is a non-profit organization offering language and translation support for humanitarian and development agencies, and other non-profit organizations on a global scale. If you are fluent in at least one language other than your native language you can help! TWB also utilizes volunteer support in graphic design and website design.
  • United Nations Online Volunteer Opportunities
    You can help with writing and editing, translation, technology services, research, and advocacy, to name a few, and there is a variety of short and longer-term opportunities.
  • The Spruce Foundation
    The Spruce Foundation is an all-volunteer, next-gen-led nonprofit based in Philadelphia focused on cultivating the next generation of philanthropists through community giving and grantmaking in support of Philadelphia’s youth. The Foundation offers offer year-round opportunities to engage young professionals in the local philanthropic scene through Spruce Council and opens applications for the Spruce Foundation board every spring. 


  • Call or leave a note for your neighbors, particularly seniors and those who live alone. Help them get the essential supplies they need. 

  • Remind others of social distancing guidance, including young adults and teens who may still feel inclined to hang out with friends. 

  • Order take-out or delivery from a locally-owned eatery.

  • Wear a mask and sew masks to donate to neighbors or essential employees. 

  • Post drawings/art, or words of thanks or encouragement in your window and/or offer a wave of thanks when you see essential employees, especially our healthcare workers and first responders.

Last updated March 3, 2021
Arts & Creative Activities

Express Your Creativity 

Color Our Collections 
Over 100 libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world have shared free coloring sheets and books based on materials in their collections. Download, print, and share your favorites!

Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems!
Join Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence at Home for a doodle lesson on the Kennedy Center YouTube channel. 

Join the McHarper Manor posted daily art project tutorials on their Facebook page. Art projects ranged from watercolor paintings to chalk art to canvas painting.  

Penn Coloring Pages 
Alumni Relations has created Penn print-at-home coloring pages for adults and kids, alike! 

STEM Coloring Books & Pages
Channel your inner artist or just distract yourself for a few minutes of fun!

Visit a Museum in Person or Virtually

Penn Museum
The Penn Museum is open now through the purchase of timed tickets. Learn more about their plans to ensure a safe visit for all. They are also still offering virtual content via YouTube videos and an online collections database. The museum will be sharing objects from their collections, links to lectures, & more on social media with the hashtag #VisitFromHome.

Check out the Penn Museum's Facebook page for the Digital Daily Dig. Virtually tour their galleries here:

For more information, go to:

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in accordance with University of Pennsylvania guidelines, ICA is now temporarily closed to the public until further notice. All public events taking place at the museum are now conducted virtually. ICA staff will have remote office hours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., also until further notice. You may experience some delays with publication orders and archival requests. We thank you in advance for your patience. To reach an ICA staff member please email

Many museums and galleries provide virtual tours of their collections or special exhibits. Explore new and inspiring art from around the world. 

Google Arts & Culture Virtual Tours
Digital collection of over 1,200+ museums and galleries that anyone with wifi can peruse at their own leisure. Depending on the museum, viewers can scroll through select images from renowned collections, and, in certain cases, navigate a “street view” of the gallery space, functioning as a virtual tour. You can also earn virtual badges and show them off on social media!

Other Arts Organizations 

New York Metropolitan Opera
The Nightly Met Opera Streams, which start at 7:30 p.m. (EST), pull from the renowned opera house’s award-winning Live in HD series, which includes encore presentations such as 19th-century French composer Georges Bizet’s Carmen. The recordings will be available to view for free on the Met Opera homepage for 20 hours after they’re streamed.

Last updated: December 10
Just for Fun

Virtual Backgrounds & Desktop Wallpaper Images 

  • #MaskUpenn 
    Grab some of these great images for your social media #MaskUPenn, your mobile background, or even virtual background for those Zoom classes!
  • Penn Campus Backgrounds
    A collection Penn Campus Backgrounds from Alumni Relations 
  • Penn's free photo library
    University Communications has a Flickr stream site where you can download Penn images. 

 Pick up a new Hobby


Virtual Tours

Interactive videos of Philadelphia's Famous Landmarks or live feeds and video tours of Philly museums, cultural centers, zoos, and more!

List of 100 Things for Kids (and Students) to Virtually Tour by UpgradedPoints

Video Games that Allow You to Travel by Nerd Bear

Explore the outdoors and beyond, from national parks to the surface of Mars!


Watch Animal Webcams 

Visit the Zoo 

  • Philadelphia Zoo
    Virtually meet and interact with the zoo's animals and staff at 2 p.m. every weekday through the zoo's #PhillyZooAt2 Facebook Live series.

  • Cape May County Park and Zoo
    Has a Virtual Zoo page where they upload weekly videos.


Puzzles, Games, and Entertainment

Host a Virtual Party or Game Night with Friends

Crossword Puzzles

Online Puzzles:


Offline Activities

Need a break from staring at screens? Try some of the activities below! 

Calendar of Events 

This section is updated frequently. Be sure to check back often! 
Have a suggestion for resources or activities you'd like to see offered? Let us know