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Campus & Community

Celebrating 2020 Graduates, Planning for Fall Term

May 22, 2020

The following message was sent to the Drexel community on May 22.

Dear Students and Colleagues,

As the spring quarter quickly comes to a close, I know we are all eager to gain a better understanding of how Drexel’s fall term will look in September, as well as what will be required from each of us to ensure that the University operates as a safe and supportive resource for students, faculty and  professional staff. This much is certain: The coming academic year will challenge us in countless new and different ways.

As we continue to develop our plans for the fall, I want to share some of the work being done by the Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force in addressing academics, research and student life within the context of fostering a safe and healthy University community. But first I want to share  some important news about how we plan to celebrate our graduating seniors.

While we had hoped to honor the Drexel Class of 2020 during a Commencement at Citizens Bank Park this September, the continued uncertainty of local, state and federal guidelines on social distancing and large gatherings means we cannot plan with any certainty for a ballpark event. Instead, all 2020 graduates will be invited to attend next year’s Citizens Bank Park Commencement, as well as their respective college and school ceremonies. And in the meantime, we will hold a virtual University-wide celebration on the evening of June 11. This celebration is in addition to virtual ceremonies and recognitions being scheduled by the colleges and schools. More information will be forthcoming shortly about these plans. I’m deeply grateful to our graduating class for their patience and understanding, as we seek to honor them while maximizing safety for the Drexel community.

I want to thank those of you who took the time to provide feedback and thoughts as part of the Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force Survey which was released on May 1 to members of the Drexel community. To date, we have received more than 1,300 responses, which is a remarkable testament to the commitment shared by all of us for the success of our University.

The survey is still open, and feedback continues to be tracked and considered by the Task Force. If you have not already done so, or if you have additional thoughts, please share them by clicking on the link below no later than 5 p.m. on May 27, at which point the survey will close.

Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force Survey

The Task Force is in the process of finalizing its recommendations for the best and safest path for the Drexel community to return to campus this fall and will be providing recommendations to me at the end of this month.

Prior to submitting their final report, the Task Force will be inviting members of the Faculty Senate, deans and senior leadership to review the preliminary report and to share their thoughts with their respective stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive and inclusive process.

Through initial results gathered from the university-wide survey, we heard that among the primary concerns of our community are health and safety and our collective ability to mitigate risk in spreading COVID-19 once our campuses reopen.  Working closely with the Task Force, a COVID19 Health and Safety Work Group has been established to ensure that our protocols and procedures are consistent with federal, state and local public health guidelines and designed to keep our community safe.

Drexel is in a strong position to create a safe learning and working environment due to the many medical and public health experts on our faculty and staff. Their knowledge, experience and resources will enable us to create an in-house health ecosystem focused on mitigating risk and proactively addressing the spread of COVID-19 on campus. We have begun producing our own protective equipment for key clinical providers and developing required training and education for students, faculty and professional staff.

In partnership with our faculty experts, Drexel Human Resources has distributed protocols (PDF) to essential personnel currently on campus, including guidelines for social distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and proper cleaning/sanitizing. Dr. Chuck Cairns, dean of the College of Medicine, led the efforts in creating the Drexel Health Tracker app, which essential personnel have started to use daily to track symptoms and complete attestations of their health. This voluntary app will work in conjunction with an established notification process staffed by physicians to ensure contact tracing and managing care. The experience of essential personnel in using the app will be reviewed to determine a campus-wide roll out.

The University will make its official announcement regarding the fall term in the weeks ahead, at which point we will outline next steps and what we each one of us will need to do to ensure success and safety across our community. In the meantime, we ask that you continue to remain safe, engaged and supportive of each other and the University.

Please continue to check Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website, and follow health officials’ advice on safeguarding yourself and others.


John Fry


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