Drexel is planning its partial return to campus for winter quarter despite the current spike in cases both in Philadelphia and throughout the country. In response, many are worried about how Drexel should prepare for some students and staff to make that return.
A message was sent out Oct. 29 outlining Drexel’s plan for the partial reopening of campus. However, this message was written and released before the news of highly-effective vaccines — set to be distributed soon — came to light and before the new preventative measures that Philadelphia has implemented in response to the recent spike in cases. Drexel has issued statements and made changes in its procedures regarding these measures, but as of yet, there has been no indication of changing reopening plans in light of these developments.
In fairness, it would be unreasonable to expect Drexel to adjust their plans so quickly under such volatile circumstances. However, the fact remains that a safe return to campus for the winter quarter will require a more detailed plan than the one released Oct. 29. According to the statement, the current plan includes the following:
- Students will return to campus and reside in single-occupancy on-campus housing.
- Drexel will accommodate students who want to participate in full-online learning.
- Increased testing protocols will be implemented.
- Classes will start Jan. 11 and will be fully remote until Jan. 18, at which point some classes will switch to a hybrid or face-to-face format.
- Study abroad and international co-op’s will be suspended for the winter.
Currently, programs have listed which classes will be remote, in-person and hybrid for the upcoming term. There are some details listed for what measures will be taken for in-person classes.
Testing is already in place on campus, and it has proven to be efficient in processing students and quickly delivering results. However, with the current plan to bring freshmen to campus housing for the winter, Drexel will need to expand its testing protocols to meet the likely increase in demand. Additionally, a strong actionable protocol will help families feel that their students are safe at college.
There is notably no mention of how students will be moved into residence halls and how life in dorms will be regulated to reduce outbreaks. Additionally, there is no mention of whether dining halls will be open or what regulations will be in place if they are. As of now, Drexel is also supporting American Campus Communities in bringing sophomores to campus as well.
It might be ambitious to expect Drexel to have a full plan for the winter at the moment, especially given the probability of major changes in the month ahead. However, detailed plans for testing, move-in, classes, dining plans and other safety measures are vital if Drexel plans to have students return to campus in January, regardless of the pandemic’s status. Additionally, many students, including some freshmen but mostly upperclassmen, chose to return to campus this fall despite instruction being online, which reminds us of the responsibility the University has to continue to keep the community safe even without a formal return to campus.