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Campus & Community

Returning Safely for the Winter Term

December 10, 2020

The following message from President John Fry was sent to the Drexel community providing key updates about remaining safe during the winter break and the University's plans for the start of the new term.


  • Drexel housing move-in, week of January 4
  • Quarter-based programs — all remote — start January 11
  • Weekly COVID-19 testing required for students in on-campus research, face-to-face or hybrid learning, as well as those living in Drexel housing or buildings connected to campus properties.
  • Employee COVID-19 testing to be offered every other week.
  • Steinbright Career Development Center team returns to campus.
  • International students and employees must consult International Student and Scholars Services prior to making travel arrangements for winter and spring terms.
  • Students in semester programs should check with their college or school for start and course details.

Dear Students and Colleagues,

As we prepare for the winter term, I want to provide a number of key updates about remaining safe over the winter break and our plans for the start of the new term, which have been designed to support health and safety in the face of COVID-19. 

Just as with the Thanksgiving holiday, I join public health and medical experts in asking that you make the safest choices over the winter break — taking care of yourselves and those around you. Most COVID-19 infections occur in situations where masks are not worn and during time spent indoors with anyone outside your immediate household. Wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands are key to our being able to further open Drexel’s campus.

Remote start

The winter term will begin one week later on January 11 for all quarter-based graduate and undergraduate classes, allowing for a gradual move-in and COVID-19 testing period. The first week of learning will take place remotely to allow on-campus students to complete a two-week “quiet” period. The timeline is as follows:

  • Week of January 4: Phased move-in for undergraduates who residing in Drexel housing.
  • Week of January 11: Quarter classes begin remotely.
  • Week of January 18: Some classes will begin offering face-to-face or hybrid sessions, while many remain remote.

Students in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, along with semester students from the College of Medicine and Kline School of Law, should consult their school for specific start dates and any special testing plans.

COVID-19 testing plan

Students and Phase I-IV employees will undergo baseline COVID-19 testing at the start of the term. Baseline testing will inform Drexel’s ongoing testing strategy. Weekly testing will be required for all students who work in research labs or take face-to-face classes, including simulation labs, as well as for all students living in Drexel housing or buildings connected to campus properties regardless of the operator. In accordance with recommendations from the Scientific Advisory Group, employees in Phases I-IV will have the opportunity to be tested every other week throughout the winter term, once baseline testing is complete. Results from baseline and ongoing testing programs, along with ongoing scientific review, will be used to guide any adjustments in testing frequency.

A more detailed communication concerning how and where to obtain a nasal COVID-19 test will be sent next week.

Please continue to report any symptoms before coming to campus and schedule your test using the latest version of the Drexel Health Checker app. Test results will appear on the app, within 24-48 hours.

  • Regular required student testing will take place at three main Philadelphia locations: the Library Learning Terrace (next to Race Street Residences) in University City; the New College Building in Center City; and the Queen Lane medical campus in East Falls.
  • Students not included in our required testing program will still be able to schedule a COVID-19 test at Drexel.

The Drexel Student Health Service will be open daily during winter break except for December 25.  Symptomatic students and those exposed to COVID-19 should still call Student Health for an assessment during this time. Additional testing for asymptomatic students will be unavailable from December 17 to January 4. More detail about COVID-19 testing at Drexel is available here.

Our collective commitment to health

While I am hopeful, given the news about effective COVID-19 vaccines, we are still in the midst of a pandemic that will continue for some time. While our Return Oversight Committee has begun reviewing vaccine access with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, all of us must continue to focus on the public health measures elaborated in the Dragon Pledge. These include:

  • Completing the online Drexel Health and Safety Training
  • Wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth any time you are in a Drexel building, a Drexel-leased building, on campus or outside on other Drexel property;
  • Frequently washing hands for at least 20 seconds;
  • Monitoring your health using the Drexel Health Checker app and notifying Drexel if you feel sick or have been exposed to COVID-19; and
  • Maintaining six feet of distance between you and any other person at all times.

Learn more about our health and safety protocols here.

Offering virtual and in-person options for career advising

The Steinbright Career Development Center team will return to campus for the winter term. Staffing levels will be set in accordance with safety guidelines while maintaining our commitment to on-campus students. Students can opt for face-to-face or virtual advising with career counselors, co-op advisors and faculty. Group gatherings and programming — including co-op preparation meetings, co-op debriefing meetings, on-campus recruiting, company information sessions, and workshops — will be conducted virtually. Building upon the success of the Fall Career Fair, the February Engineering and Technology Career Fair will be conducted virtually through the Handshake platform in conjunction with our employer partners. Students participating in fall/winter co-op should continue to follow their work schedules in compliance with employer, city and state safety guidelines.

Monitoring guidelines for international students and foreign employees

The International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) office continues to monitor and assess the impact of coronavirus on our overseas students and employees. Temporary guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the fall 2020 term, permitting select international students to engage in remote learning, is in place through the end of this term. To date, ICE has not issued guidance for the winter and spring 2021 terms. All international students and employees planning to arrive for winter and spring terms should consult with ISSS at prior to making travel arrangements.

Focus on flexibility

Drexel is committed to the health and safety of students, faculty and professional staff. While we plan to see many more of you in person this winter — and in even greater numbers for the spring quarter — we will always adhere to the latest scientific and federal, state and city public health guidance. Therefore, we will remain flexible in our operations and learning modalities and may have to make adjustments for health reasons while the pandemic is ongoing.

The University can only keep expanding and serving our campus community with your help in staying ahead of COVID-19. I ask that you take seriously the safety protocols outlined. If you have questions about your classes, please contact your program coordinator. For questions about COVID-19 safety or testing, please call the Drexel COVID Questions line at 215.703.2335.

Best wishes for a joyous holiday season, and I look forward to a healthy and safe winter term.


John Fry


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