Drexel University is planning to partially reopen campus and bring certain students back to face-to-face classes this winter term, President John A. Fry said in an email statement sent to the University community Thursday, Oct. 29.
“Despite our desire to bring our community back to campus as quickly and safely as possible, [COVID-19] continues to spread, and cases continue to rise both in our region as well as nationally,” Fry wrote. “At this time, it is our intention to take [certain] steps for the winter term with strict health and safety guidelines in place.”
Hallmarks of the partial reopening plan include the majority of classes continuing to be taught remotely, with the exception of certain lab and studio classes for first-year students, juniors and seniors. Campus housing will be reopened with single-occupancy rooms being offered, and there will be a delayed start to winter term.
Although select classes are expected to be offered in person, Fry said that students enrolled in these classes will still have the choice to remain fully-virtual, based on level of comfort in returning to campus.
“Should a student wish to continue remote instruction, the University will support this decision and do all that we can to ensure that their learning experiences are robust and comprehensive,” Fry said.
Those who choose to return to face-to-face classes will be welcomed back to campus following appropriate health and safety protocols, including social distancing, modified classroom setups, enhanced cleaning procedures and additional testing.
“As the University increases its on-campus numbers, additional faculty and professional staff will be asked to return in order to provide an engaging and supportive environment for students,” Fry said. “Rigorous health and safety protocols, including those set forth in the Dragon Pledge, will be in place to ensure a safe learning and work environment.”
Fry announced Oct. 29 that the start of winter term for quarter-based programs will be delayed one week, moving from Jan. 4 to Jan. 11, to accommodate for the completion of a quarantine period. For the first week of winter term, classes will be fully virtual and then, beginning Jan. 18, face-to-face and hybrid classes will make the transition to campus.
Drexel also plans to reopen student housing for winter term, accommodating one student per room. More details will be provided in the coming weeks, Fry said.
Upon the return of students and staff to campus, Drexel will continue offering nasal swab testing services at its COVID-19 site in the College of Medicine. Currently, Drexel is testing thousands of students “for screening purposes.” The tests are even offered to those without symptoms, and the University is working to expand its capabilities.
The health of Drexel students, faculty and professional staff will be reported using the confidential Drexel Health Tracker app, which will also allow users to view their COVID-19 test results and other health resources. Individual symptom reports and testing results will be protected on the Drexel Health Tracker app, but the University will make general data public.
“It is essential for our community to have access to transparent and comprehensive data,” Fry said. “As such, the University has updated and enhanced the Drexel COVID-19 dashboard, with further updates expected as screening expands. I encourage you to check the dashboard frequently.”
Due to international restrictions on travel, Drexel is continuing its suspension of study abroad and international co-op experiences.
As Drexel prepares for its partial return of campus, Fry said the success of a reopening is contingent upon individual and collective behavior, including following health and safety protocols. This means avoiding large gatherings, wearing face masks, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene.
“We want you here, but we also aim for the healthiest and safest campus community possible,” Fry said. “Each of us must help in achieving this goal. In the months ahead, safety protocols will be mandatory, behavioral compliance will be required and enforced and we will continue to be guided by a safety-first approach for students, faculty and professional staff.”