The following message by Drexel President John Fry and Marla J. Gold, MD, Director of the Return Oversight Committee, about staying the course and redoubling efforts as other Philadelphia-area universities are reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases among their undergraduates was sent to the Drexel community.
Dear Students and Colleagues,
With other Philadelphia-area universities reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases among their undergraduates — including the more contagious variant of the virus — we at Drexel have to redouble efforts to keep up our guard.
The good news is that throughout January our campus saw low rates of viral infection among asymptomatic undergraduates who were tested weekly. There has been no evidence of transmission in classroom settings. We hope to stay this course by utilizing the good system that's in place for testing, contact tracing, and quarantining and isolating any students, faculty or professional staff as circumstances warrant, coupled with collective, sustained healthy behaviors.
Known to be in our region, the B.1.1.7. variant — first identified in the United Kingdom — is more transmissible, but thus far does not appear to trigger worse cases of the disease. At this time, we plan to continue with our mix of remote and face-to-face teaching. Even so, we urge everyone in the Drexel community to remain vigilant and maintain preventive measures, including:
- Double-masking is now recommended by the University as an added precaution;
- Students should socialize only within their pods;
- Continue with handwashing and distancing practices; and,
- Get screening tested for COVID-19 regularly, as scheduled.
By staying the course, we hope to avoid imposing any tighter restrictions on campus operations or returning to all-remote learning.
Meanwhile, Drexel will continue to support efforts to stem COVID-19 risk in the wider community, including the city's vaccination efforts. Drexel is not directly operating any vaccination clinics, but we recently made Behrakis Grand Hall available for a city-run vaccination clinic for the general public and will likely continue to provide space on our campus for the city's vaccination efforts. We are eager to assist the city as needed and will look for additional opportunities to partner on other similar initiatives, particularly in Powelton Village and Mantua, and continue to advocate for members of our campus community.
Once again, thank you for all you are doing to help keep yourselves and others in our community safe.
Marla J. Gold, MD
Director, Return Oversight Committee