COVID-19 FAQ for PAFA Students

This FAQ addresses frequently asked questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and PAFA's response for our student community.

What measures is PAFA taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19?

  • On March 14, 2020, in response to the public health threat of COVID-19, and in accordance with advisories and guidance from health authorities, PAFA announced that it would be temporarily closing its physical spaces (including the PAFA Museum and Stiles Hall), adopting an online learning environment for its graduate and undergraduate classes, and transitioning to a remote work environment for its staff. These measures have been taken to reduce the potential pathways for the spread of the virus, and to protect the health and wellbeing of the community, which is always PAFA’s highest priority.

When will the PAFA campus re-open?

  • The PAFA campus is closed until further notice, and we will re-open as soon as it is deemed safe and responsible to do so.

Can I access campus to pick up materials or visit my studio during the closure?

  • For the safety of the PAFA community – including students, faculty, and staff – the campus is fully closed and visits of any kind are not being permitted at this time. Updates will be made as soon as it is determined that we can safely and responsibly re-open our physical spaces.

When can I retrieve the rest of my belongings from Stiles Hall?

  • At this time, for the safety of the community, it is not possible to access Stiles Hall. We will share updates as soon as they become available. Students and families may contact Resident Director Katherine Volpe at with any questions related to Stiles Hall.

How long will we remain in this current online-learning environment?

  • All PAFA classes will be conducted remotely until further notice, and at least through the conclusion of this academic term (spring 2020). Updates on plans to resume in-person classes will be shared as soon as it is possible to do so.


Will the Spring semester still end as scheduled, with the last day of classes on May 7?

  • Yes. Spring break was extended by one week to allow time for online training for both students and faculty, and the term will end as scheduled. Students will be given extended time to complete course work beyond May 7 as needed. MFA1 final reviews will be held via Zoom the week of May 11. First-year end of term reviews will not be held this spring.

Even though the ASE and commencement are being held in September, will I still graduate in May?

  • Yes. Students who complete their required courses will graduate in May and will be eligible to receive transcripts indicating they have completed their degree requirements. Exhibiting in the ASE has been waived as a 2020 graduation requirement. Students will graduate even if they are not able to participate in the ASE.

How will pass/fail grading affect my GPA?

  • Students will receive course credit if they receive a mark of P, and will not receive course credit if they receive a mark of F. Neither mark will impact a student's GPA positively or negatively.

Can students still make appointments with writing and ESL advisors or tutors for support with written work?

Yes. Students can schedule appointments with tutors and advisors by using the below resources:

Who can I contact if I need assistance with academic accommodations?

  • Students should reach out to Juli Fomenko at for help with academic accommodations.


Who should I contact if I need assistance with Canvas, Zoom or other online technology?

What should I do if I don’t have access to a laptop or WiFi, or if I’m struggling with emergency expenses?

  • PAFA is assisting students who do not have access to a laptop or WiFi to ensure that they can participate in online classes, and is working to address students’ other emergency needs on a case-by-case basis. If you are without proper technology equipment or Internet access, or if you are experiencing food insecurity, please reach out to Anne Stassen, Dean of Students, ( who can advise on what options are open to you and how PAFA can help.

ASE, Commencement and Prizes

How is the Annual Student Exhibition being affected?

  • After much consultation with members of the student body, faculty, and staff, PAFA has committed to an in-person Annual Student Exhibition, which is now scheduled to take place from September 11 through October 3, preceded by the Preview Party on September 10.

Who can I contact with questions about the ASE?

  • If you have any questions related to the Annual Student Exhibition, you are encouraged to reach out to Kate McCammon (

Important ASE and Commencement Dates

  • Student artwork installation for ASE is scheduled to take place from August 27 – 31.

  • MFA reviews are scheduled to take place from September 3 – 4.

  • The Preview Party for ASE is scheduled to take place on September 10.

  • Commencement, along with the public opening of ASE, is scheduled to take place on September 11.

  • Under the current plan, ASE will remain on view to the public until October 3

  • De-installation of student artwork is scheduled to take place on October 5.

What if I can't be on campus in September to install my work for the ASE, or participate in the MFA final reviews?

  • Accommodations will be made for students who cannot be on campus for ASE and final reviews. Students may deliver their ASE work to campus to be installed by PAFA staff, and students will not be required to participate in the exhibition. Accommodations will be made for any MFA student who is not able to attend in-person reviews in September.

Has Commencement been cancelled?

  • No. Commencement has been postponed, and is now scheduled to take place in-person at PAFA on September 11, 2020, to coincide with the opening of ASE. Should the public health threat of COVID-19 persist, an alternate date will be determined.

How are this year’s travel awards and other prizes being handled?

  • In order to allow students as much time as possible to complete their work, the majority of 2020 prizes will be awarded in September of this year. However, a number of awards will be given this spring to coincide with the conclusion of the academic term.

  • Travel Awards will be given this spring. Applications will be submitted online, and are due May 11.

  • The Chase Family Prize in Illustration will be given this spring, and application materials are due May 4. Applications will be submitted online.

  • The Anne Bryan Memorial Award will be given this spring, and application materials are due May 4. Applications will be submitted online.

  • Students are encouraged to refer to their emails for further instructions related to this spring’s prizes and awards. Details on additional prizes, to be awarded in May and September, will be communicated at a later date.

  • Students with specific questions related to awards and prizes are encouraged to reach out to Anne Stassen at

Student Support

How can I stay connected to the Student Services Department while we the campus is closed?

  • PAFA holds bi-weekly Student Services Zoom meetings, at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All students are welcome and encouraged to attend these virtual meetings, to share details on their thoughts, concerns, and needs, and to hear directly from PAFA about how the school is continuing to adapt to the circumstances of COVID-19.

  • If you ever have questions related to student services at PAFA, please reach out to Anne Stassen to discuss.

How can I connect with Career Services?

  • Director of Career Services, Greg Martino, is available for individual appointments, and to help with application materials. Please contact Greg at

Will I still be paid if I have a work-study position?

  • Yes. Students who have been receiving work study will continue to be paid based on the average hours they were working prior to the campus closing.

I am experiencing financial hardship and need assistance with living expenses. Can PAFA provide any assistance?

  • Yes. PAFA is able to provide limited assistance for students who are experiencing urgent financial challenges through its Student Emergency Fund. Please contact Anne Stassen ( to apply for assistance.

Is there someone I can contact regarding health and wellness concerns?

  • Yes. Student Care Coordinator, Juli Fomenko, is available to help student with questions regarding health insurance and physical and mental health needs. Please contact Juli at

What can I do to keep myself healthy, and how can I get updates on the status of the pandemic?

  • The State of Pennsylvania has issued a statewide stay-at-home order, and all Americans have been advised to strictly limit travel, practice social distancing, wash hands and disinfect surfaces frequently, and stay home as much as possible in order to limit the spread of the virus.

  • For updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on the spread of COVID-19, and guidelines on keeping yourself and others healthy, visit their website:

  • The City of Philadelphia provides updates related to COVID-19 at their website:

Extended Campus Access

Will PAFA grant students extra access to artmaking spaces on campus to make up for in-person time lost during the campus closure?

  • Yes. Once it is deemed safe and responsible to do so, PAFA has committed to making accommodations for students to use on-campus shop and studio spaces, including students who may have already graduated. Depending on the local situation with regard to COVID-19, this may be later in the summer, or in the fall during the next academic term. PAFA is also planning additional shop-based classes that can be taken by current students at no extra charge, as a way to make up for current lost studio or shop time.

Tuition and Housing Fees

Is PAFA reimbursing for tuition or fees?

  • As a small institution, PAFA relies on revenue from tuition and fees to uphold the standards and quality of its education, to maintain its faculty and staff, and to ensure that vital operating costs can continue to be met. Therefore, we are unable to provide reimbursements for tuition and most student fees for the remainder of the academic term.

  • Although PAFA’s physical campus is temporarily closed to protect the health and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff, the school is still operating and serving its community.

  • PAFA continues to provide uninterrupted classes and has incurred costs through the shift to to the online learning environment.

  • PAFA continues to offer access to and guidance about mental health resources, including video or phone conferencing with a licensed counselor to determine next steps in connecting to ongoing mental health care. Additionally, students are able to access online Health and Wellness workshops.

  • PAFA has been working to address the urgent financial needs of its students, including providing laptops and other technology, money for food and other essential living expenses, and funds for travel.

  • PAFA’s Career Services department continues to advise students in both one-on-one meetings and group programs.

  • PAFA will be making accommodations for students to use the physical studio and shop spaces on campus once it is safe to do so, at no additional charge to students.

I moved out of Stiles Hall; will I be reimbursed for housing fees for the remainder of the academic term?

  • Yes. Any student who moved out of Stiles Hall because of the COVID-19 pandemic will receive a pro-rated credit based on the number of days they were not able to reside in Stiles Hall. That credit can be applied toward housing at Stiles Hall next year, or applied toward any outstanding spring tuition and fees. The credit can also be applied to fall tuition and fees if the student will not be residing in Stiles Hall for the fall semester.

Low Residency MFA Program

Will the Low-Residency MFA program start as scheduled on June 22?

  • Yes. The program will start as scheduled. If it is not deemed safe to re-open the physical campus by the scheduled start date, the term will start online. There are plans in place to conduct the first four weeks online and the second four weeks in person, as well as plans for a fully online term if the situation requires it.

Will there be an on-campus exhibition and commencement for the graduating Low-Residency MFA students?

  • Yes. The current plan is to hold the Low-Residency MFA graduation ceremony and exhibition as scheduled. If that is not possible due to the pandemic, PAFA will make arrangements to hold these events on campus at a later date.

Will students in the Low-Residency MFA program have the opportunity to make up for missed on-campus time if the summer term is conducted online?

  • Yes. Students will be allowed to come back to campus at a future, later date to work in the studios and shops if it is not deemed safe to be on campus this summer.

Will Stiles Hall be open for Low-Residency MFA students this summer?

  • PAFA is in close contact with Drexel University, the owner of Stiles Hall. At this time, the status of Stiles Hall for the summer is uncertain. We will continue to monitor the situation and update students as soon as more information becomes available.

About PAFA

Founded in 1805, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is America's first school and museum of fine arts. A recipient of the National Medal of Arts, PAFA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in the fine arts, innovative exhibitions of historic and contemporary American art, and a world-class collection of American art. PAFA’s esteemed alumni include Mary Cassatt, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, William Glackens, Barkley L. Hendricks, Violet Oakley, Louis Kahn, David Lynch, and Henry Ossawa Tanner.