The following message was sent from President Fry to the Drexel community on Aug. 6:
Dear Members of the Drexel Community,
With the official opening this week of course registration for the fall, I want to share further details about our planned hybrid experience, so that we can all be well-prepared for what I hope will be an engaging and productive — if unprecedented — new academic year. Additionally, we have more information concerning our COVID-19 testing protocols.
We continue to monitor virus case counts as they rise across the nation and in our region, with notable increases among younger individuals. As of now, the total U.S. cases of COVID-19 exceed 4.8 million. Please know that the health and safety of our community is our utmost priority, so we will continue to closely monitor the ongoing changes in pandemic conditions and the latest guidelines set forth by government public health officials, and adjust our plans as needed.
Fall Hybrid Experience at Drexel
As you know, Drexel’s reopening plans for quarter-based students are grounded in a hybrid approach to ensure both flexibility and adaptability. (Semester programs in the College of Medicine are underway already, and Kline Law starts later this month.) Whether students take their courses in-person or remotely, I want to assure you that we remain committed to providing a high-quality learning experience. We continue to build on experience gained in the spring and summer, investing in new technologies and training, and expanding and improving upon instructional methods to best showcase our expert faculty and ensure the quality educational experience for which Drexel University is renowned.
For the fall, we anticipate that a university-wide average of 80 percent of all undergraduate and graduate courses will be conducted in a remote setting. Some plans of study will include more in-class instruction than others, depending on factors such as required laboratory and studio experiences, public health occupancy requirements, and the level of the course (e.g. courses vital to the experience of first-year students or graduating seniors). The vast majority of undergraduate and graduate courses and research projects for which face-to-face interaction is not imperative will be held in a remote setting for the fall.
More details will be shared by the schools and colleges in the coming days about specific course experiences and learning modalities, as well as any logistical information about the use of their academic spaces.
As students continue to plan their fall schedules, Drexel academic advisors remain the best resource to ensure students are enrolled in the courses and modalities they need for academic success. The hybrid approach provides optimal flexibility for students to take courses in a manner that best suits their individual needs and comfort level, which could include selecting an all-remote schedule of courses.
Research and Community Engagement
In addition to our on-campus teaching activities, critical research initiatives that require face-to-face participation and/or on-campus clinical lab and studio use will continue. As an R1 research university, Drexel is prepared to continue our research efforts to find creative, use-inspired solutions to combat this pandemic. Working with public and private partners, Drexel will identify opportunities to help fight COVID-19 and provide ongoing support and resources to the city of Philadelphia and our broader region, and to secure further opportunities for students to make an impact.
Academic Calendar and Courses
Drexel’s 10-week academic calendar will remain as originally planned, starting the fall term on September 21 and concluding on December 12. To minimize student travel, all on-campus courses will be moved to a remote setting following the Thanksgiving break. Students will complete their final week of the quarter and finals remotely.
Since the spring, Drexel has pivoted to ensure academic advising, tutoring services, career support and faculty office hours remain available in the remote setting. We understand that the remote setting poses challenges for students who may not have easy access to the needed technology for remote learning. Please know that Drexel is committed to working with all students to ensure they have the technology resources necessary for their academic success. Additional information can be found on the advising website.
We understand that this pandemic has caused significant challenges for some students seeking a co-op placement. We are committed to helping our students find experiential learning opportunities throughout the fall term and have been working with industry partners and alumni to identify and develop new co-op positions. For more information on the latest initiatives put forth by the University, please visit the Steinbright Career Development Center COVID-19 website.
COVID-19 Kits for Pre-Arrival Testing
Over the past several weeks, I have shared with you the plans Drexel University has outlined to keep our students, faculty and professional staff as safe as possible from COVID-19, including our policies with respect to required social distancing measures, the mandatory wearing of face masks at all times, and following strict handwashing and sanitation guidelines. These mandatory precautions not only prevent the spread of the disease on campus, but also protect and care for nearby neighborhoods and affiliated communities.
Drexel University is now requiring that all students, faculty and professional staff be tested, at University expense, if they will be on campus in the fall. As a convenience, the University has arranged for a COVID-19 testing kit to be delivered to each individual at their preferred address. These test kits contain detailed instructions and will include a postage-paid envelope for returning the test to a laboratory.
For any individuals testing positive, Drexel will require that they observe a 14-day isolation at their home or other off-campus location. Any students testing positive will switch to remote classes at this time. They will be able to travel to campus in Philadelphia once their isolation period is completed.
International students will be tested upon arrival to campus and will receive further instruction at that time. Students should quarantine at home for 14 days prior to travel.
Once the fall quarter begins, COVID-19 testing will also be conducted over the quarter on smaller, randomized groups of students who live in congregate housing settings, including residence halls and fraternity and sorority housing. Details concerning this ongoing testing designed to enhance campus safety will be provided to students once they arrive on campus and at an upcoming town hall.
Regardless of a test result, it will be imperative that individuals coming back to campus continue to track their temperatures and monitor for symptoms by using the confidential Drexel Health Tracker app.
Students traveling to campus from states with more than 90 cases per 100,000 residents are required to quarantine at home for two weeks (14 days) prior to departing for Drexel’s campus. The list of states can be found on the Philadelphia Department of Public Health website.
The goal of self-quarantining is to prevent the inadvertent spreading of the virus. During your self-quarantine, you should watch for any fever above 100.4 F, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19. Wear a mask if you must leave your home.
We also strongly recommend that those Drexel students who do not reside in high-prevalence areas and who will be returning to campus for research and/or face-to-face course instruction also self-quarantine at home for two weeks (14 days) prior to departing for Drexel. For the two weeks prior to starting the academic year on our campus, and throughout the year, students should practice the key public health strategies of wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent handwashing.
During this time, all students should download the Drexel Health Tracker app and begin using it on the first day of their self-quarantine in order to track their medical symptoms for the duration of their isolation.
Required Training Prior to Return
All community members must complete mandatory COVID-19 health and safety training two weeks before returning to campus. Students, faculty and professional staff currently on campus should complete the online training no later than Thursday, August 27. Employees can access the training through Career Pathway. Students can access the training on their Blackboard learning site. As part of this training, you will need to review, sign and submit the Dragon Pledge.
More information on training and The Dragon Pledge can be found on the Drexel Response to Coronavirus website.
Drexel University’s plans are only as good as our ability to abide by them. No amount of planning and communications can keep us safe if members of our community do not take it upon themselves to adhere to and comply with the guidelines put forth.
We must do everything possible to safeguard one another from this virus. This includes adjusting our daily practices to work together to reduce the spread of the virus and stay healthy.
Failure to comply with the protocols the University sets forth will result in potential disciplinary action. All students will be expected to:
- Utilize the Drexel Health Tracker app to monitor symptoms.
- Practice social distancing of six feet from others.
- Wear a mask inside all Drexel buildings and outside where social distancing is not possible.
- Practice proper handwashing procedures by washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds throughout the day.
- Be up to date on all vaccines, including an annual flu shot.
- Avoid having guests, including family members who are outside of your household, in your residence.
- Refrain from organizing, hosting, or attending on- or off-campus events, parties or other social gatherings.
Further Health and Safety Information
There will be two remote town halls in the upcoming weeks — one for faculty and professional staff, and one for students and their families. We hope to provide more information and instruction on how we can plan for a healthy and safe Drexel experience this fall. More details and registration information will be announced shortly.
Once again, I recognize how uneasy this time is for us all. By following the best expert advice, remaining flexible, and coming together as a community to support one another, I am confident in our collective ability to find innovative and creative solutions for starting the new academic year.