The following message was sent to the Drexel community on May 1.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
We are on a fast-track planning process for the start of the new academic year with the expected return to full campus operations on September 21, while also putting plans in place that will protect the health and safety of everyone in the Drexel community. The full resumption of campus life for students, faculty, professional staff and other employees is the goal.
This fall, the starting point will be the lifting of restrictions by state authorities, and we’re encouraged by Governor Tom Wolf’s recent announcement of a phased approach to reopening Pennsylvania. We will monitor closely the guidelines issued by the state to help calibrate our plans for campus operations. As eager as we all are to move beyond remote operations, we must do this deliberatively and with health and safety as our top priority.
Even as we await the easing of state restrictions, Drexel will approach this challenge from a position of strength. For example, we will tap into the wide range of medical, scientific and technical expertise from our faculty to inform our decision-making. We are proud that three of the seven members of Philadelphia’s board of public health are on our faculty, and that we have a deep bench of talent from the College of Medicine, Dornsife School of Public Health, the College of Nursing and Health Professions, College of Engineering, School of Biomedical Engineering, and Westphal College. We can thereby be assured of having critical information and updates on a daily basis to help lead us to a safe return.
In addition, Drexel’s quarter system offers a significant advantage with a later start date of September 21, which will give us extra time to prepare for the transition back to campus.
Now, we need to move as quickly and decisively as possible under the circumstances to prepare for the fall term. To assist, we hope to draw upon the Drexel community, tapping its deep well of experience, creativity and ingenuity.
Our Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force is charged with developing recommendations by the end of May. As part of that, task force co-chairs Norma Bouchard, Megan Weyler and Alan Greenberger are seeking input from students, faculty and professional staff in an online survey. They ask that you respond with ideas on how we can best provide for the health and safety of our community and fulfill the University’s mission, focusing on the following categories: academics, research, public health and safety, facilities and student experience. Your feedback is critical to our goal of making the best decisions we can for the fall term. The survey can be accessed at the following link.
Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force Survey
Task force members have been assigned to committees in each of the areas targeted in the survey. These groups will gather input and collect the critical information needed for a successful reopening of the University. Then, the task force will develop measures to be taken in response to multiple scenarios, each guided by state directives regarding the status of the pandemic in this region. We will present the details of our plan in early June.
As the summer progresses, and with state authorization, we hope to open the campuses on a limited basis, with small groups of students and researchers, additional faculty, professional staff and other personnel necessary to conduct University business. For example, some labs could reopen. And so the summer term could help inform our approach to opening the new academic year in September.
While we await decisions on these developments, it’s important to take care of ourselves and each other. The University has many resources in place to support students and employees alike maintain a healthy emotional outlook during this difficult period.
In our Counseling Center, students can consult therapists using a confidential Zoom platform. Appointments can be requested by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 215.895.1415. The after-hours emergency line is 215.416.3337. Counseling Center staff also offer virtual workshops and other self-help modules, downloadable at the Center’s website. In addition, 7Cups provides peer counseling to students who want to reach out anonymously for help. Finally, for students in recovery or seeking support with substance-use issues, the Haven is hosting virtual meetings every day at 8 p.m. EST at HavenRecoveryMeeting or by phone at 872.240.3412 (661-666-741 access code).
Employees, their spouses, domestic partners and dependents can access free, confidential counseling sessions though Drexel’s Employee Assistance Program by calling 888.628.4824. In addition, employees can obtain guidance with financial matters, including budgeting, as well as legal information and referrals on matters such as family law and estate planning (Lincoln Employee Assistance Program Brochure [PDF]).
Even incorporating a few minutes of healthy activity in your daily routine also can be beneficial, especially due to social distancing. Drexel Human Resources’ Ten at 10 program offers ideas on building such activity into your schedule. And don’t forget that the DAC is offering virtual exercise classes throughout the week.
In recently announcing his plan to reopen the state, Gov. Wolf said he foresees a time when “we will not only safely return Pennsylvanians to work but return to a different and more resilient Pennsylvania.” We are committed to achieving a similar outcome for Drexel — with the University back in full operation and strengthened by the lessons learned in overcoming the challenges of this pandemic.
As we map a path forward, continue to check Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website, and follow health officials’ advice on safeguarding yourself and your families. Most of all, we ask that you please remain as steadfast and supportive of each other, and the University, as you have been amid this pandemic from the very first days.
Helen Y. Bowman
Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer
Paul E. Jensen
Interim Nina Henderson Provost