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Planning for a Return to Campus

Drexel University Dragon Statue

Fall Return to Campus

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In order to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to support the research and experiential learning at the core of a Drexel education, the University is planning for a phased reopening and hybrid operation model for the fall term. This model includes increased campus health and safety measures and a modified academic calendar. It is guided by our community safeguards, as well as those recommended by local, state and federal agencies to mitigate the potential risk of transmitting the virus.

In anticipation of welcoming students back to campus, the University will be taking the following steps to ensure a safe and successful fall term:

  • Begin a phased return to campus over the summer, that will enable new health and safety measures to be effectively implemented ahead of the fall term.
  • Increase support for faculty and professional staff to accommodate a mix of teaching and working on campus remotely.
  • Continue to implement health, safety and hybrid academic delivery plans for accommodating students living and learning on campus in the fall.

While this plan draws on the latest health agency data and recommendations, and the collective wisdom and experience of University leaders and faculty experts, it will only be successful if everyone on campus actively participates in protecting the health and safety of others. More than 1,300 students, faculty, professional staff, parents and stakeholders contributed their insights and concerns in the planning process coordinated by the Fall 2020 Covid-19 Task Force [PDF] and the voices of our dynamic and diverse community will continue to guide the resumption of on-campus operations at Drexel. The task force provided an executive summary [PDF] with findings from the planning process.

Returning to Campus FAQs

Planning a Safe Return

Does Drexel have a plan in place for the fall?

Drexel President John Fry, on June 10, announced Drexel’s plan for a safe return to campus for the Fall of 2020. Given the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, Drexel University plans to reopen the campus in the fall using a hybrid approach. This approach will utilize a combination of in-person and online education, helping to limit the number of students, faculty, and professional staff on campus to ensure that social distancing measures can be implemented.

How is Drexel planning for a return to campus?

Drexel has worked over the course of the past several months to determine the safest and most efficient way to return our community to campus in the Fall of 2020. We are actively planning and making decisions in accordance with health officials, CDC guidelines, and in collaboration with experts in higher education to ensure that our plans are aligned with best practices.

A Fall 2020 COVID-19 Task Force, made up of an interdisciplinary team of professional staff and faculty from across the University, was convened in April to consider and plan for mutiple return scenarios.This group remains committed to developing and implementing return plans that protect the health and safety of the Drexel community while preserving a high level of teaching, research and service.

What if the situation changes?

The University has considered how we should operate throughout different phases of the pandemic, and we expect that the situation may well change during the fall quarter.

The scenarios take into account the fluidity of the virus and the direction provided by the state of Pennsylvania. They include:

  • Scenario 1, or “red phase”: Fall term continues to operate primarily remotely; campuses remain closed with essential personal only.
  • Scenario 2, or “yellow phase”: Fall term runs as a hybrid, with varying elements remote, in-person, and aided-by technology experiences.
  • Scenario 3, or “green phase”: Fall term begins and remains on-campus, in-person, and aided by technology experiences.

In each scenario or phase, we will follow the CDC guidelines and the recommendation of state and local public health officials.

Will Drexel be modifying the fall quarter?

The University will deliver a full 10-week term which will begin as planned on September 21 and end on December 14. To minimize the potential for virus spread, students who are on campus will be asked to depart by Thanksgiving. Following the Thanksgiving break, students will complete their final week of the quarter and finals remotely rather than traveling back and forth for Thanksgiving and increasing the potential for viral transmission.

Health & Safety

Are any changes being made to ensure safe transportation to and from campus?

We are working on plans to expand the Drexel shuttle schedule to minimize crowding, and we will increase disinfection and cleaning of the vehicles themselves. Drexel will be coordinating with SEPTA/NJT/PATCO/AMTRAK to ensure that students who use those services have access to safe public transportation options to travel to and from campus.

Employees whose presence is required to support on-site operations, and who normally commute by mass transit, have the option to park at the Drexel garage at 34th and Ludlow streets or in Lot F at 31st and Ludlow streets. Employees can contact Drexel Parking Services at parking@drexel.edu to request passes to these garages.

What behavioral health support is Drexel providing?

Counseling Center therapists are able to conduct teletherapy using a HIPPA-compliant, confidential Zoom platform to preserve students’ privacy. They will also be able to provide students within Pennsylvania and students residing across state lines with on-going support as licensing restrictions permit.

Students who would like to schedule an appointment with a therapist can email counsel@drexel.edu or call 215.895.1415. An after-hours emergency line can be reached at 215.416.3337. Counseling Center staff also will be offering virtual workshops and other self-help modules, downloadable at the Center’s website.

Earlier this year, we launched 7Cups, a digital peer counseling resource for students who prefer to reach out anonymously for peer support. Finally, for students in recovery or seeking support around substance-use issues, the Haven continues to host virtual meetings every day at 8 p.m. EST at Haven Recovery Meeting or by phone at 872.240.3412 (661-666-741 access code).

What can I do to stay safe once we return?

The best way to prevent infection once on campus is to practice the following steps to avoid being exposed to this virus:

  • Wear a face covering – everyone must wear cloth face masks while they are in campus buildings, and in public spaces where distancing is not possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently – use soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also being made more available on campus.
  • Watch your distance when you are around other people – social distancing reminders will be placed throughout campus to remind everyone to keep a safe distance.
  • Watch your health – use the Drexel Health Tracker app (Apple and Android) to monitor your symptoms and contact Student Health Services if you feel sick.

What is being done to protect the health and safety of the Drexel community?

New health and safety protocols are being established across campus, including, but not limited to:

  • Wearing face masks in all campus buildings and when close contact is likely.
  • Health and safety trainings for students, faculty and professional staff.
  • Implementation of social distancing in all common spaces.
  • Facilitating access to testing for COVID-19, through use of the Drexel Health Tracker app (Apple and Android) that we’re rolling out to share information and keep us connected with students, faculty and professional staff.
  • Making sure that we identify and trace contacts to infected persons to keep people safe and healthy as well as prevent spreading of the virus.
  • Making sure that campus facilities are cleaned based on CDC and current health department guidelines.

What is being done to encourage social distancing?

Drexel is taking measures to support and promote social distancing across campus. Our hybrid plan will permit fewer students to live on campus. Occupancy in residence halls will be modified so that dormitories and rooms are less crowded. In-person classes will be smaller, and instructional spaces will be configured to promote social distancing and encourage space between students. Our plans are evolving but are based on our capacity and CDC guidelines.

What is the policy on wearing masks on campus?

All students, faculty and professional staff are required to wear cloth face masks while they are in campus buildings. Masks should also be worn outside buildings where distancing is not possible. This policy is the CDC recommendation when there are unrecognized cases in the community. Additional information from the CDC can be found here.

What should I do if I notice symptoms?

If a student has developed fever with cough or shortness of breath or has had contact with someone who is suspected to have coronavirus, the student is advised to call the Drexel Student Health Center right away at 215.220.4700.

Faculty and professional staff are advised to seek medical care by calling their primary care doctor and asking to be evaluated for the COVID-19 infection. Immediately after calling your provider, please contact covid19health@drexel.edu and provide your name and a phone number to be contacted by a Drexel representative. It is imperative that the University is aware of any exposure risk to the members of the Drexel community.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

All students with symptoms of the virus, or who may have had contact with someone with the virus are asked to contact the Student Health Center. Students can use the COVID-19 email address, the phone line, or the Drexel Health Tracker app to notify the Center. A staff-member will make contact to facilitate testing, if that is needed, and assist the student with isolation. Student Health will also investigate to try to identify where the student may have been exposed to the infection and work to identify additional contacts so they do not spread the virus.

We are currently developing plans for the safe isolation and monitoring of students with COVID-19 who live on campus during the time they are contagious. And we are also working on plans for the safe housing for their contacts, who will be quarantined and monitored by the medical staff at our Student Health Center.

Faculty and professional staff are advised to seek medical care by calling their primary care doctor and asking to be evaluated for the COVID-19 infection. Immediately after calling your provider, please contact covid19health@drexel.edu and provide your name and a phone number to be contacted by a Drexel representative. It is imperative that the University is aware of any exposure risk to the members of the Drexel community.

What will happen if there are confirmed cases on campus?

Drexel has established specific locations on campus that are reserved to quarantine individuals if necessary. Should there be confirmed cases on campus, quarantine measures will be put into effect for affected individuals.

Will personal protective equipment (PPE) be provided?

Everyone is encouraged to have their own cloth masks. Should you not have access to masks, the University will have them available in various campus buildings. Disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer will be available for Drexel students, faculty, and professional staff throughout campus. We will also provide the appropriate training in proper use of PPE to students, faculty and staff. This training will be required of all Residential Life staff working in campus housing facilities.

Will sanitation efforts be increased?

Drexel is increasing cleaning and sanitization in all campus buildings with increased attention to ‘high touch’ areas (e.g., bathrooms, door handles, light switches, computer lab keyboards/mice, elevator buttons, water fountains, etc.) as well as disinfecting large common areas with foggers, as recommended by the CDC. The University is also increasing access to alcohol-based hand sanitizers across campus.

Drexel Environmental Services has been going into all classrooms and non-lab areas and wiping down light switches, door hardware, surfaces and the like with an approved disinfectant.

The Office of Real Estate and Facilities is also working with landlords in the University’s leased locations to ensure similar steps have been taken there as well.

Will there be testing available on campus?

Drexel is building capacity for testing for our students, faculty and professional staff so that testing is both available and convenient for those who need it. Our Office of Student Health is working with partners across the University to expand COVID-19 testing services. We’ll provide more information about these plans in the coming weeks.

Will the University notify the community if there are positive cases on campus?

We will work to make sure that anyone exposed to a case of COVID-19 on the Drexel campus is aware of that exposure and can take protective actions. Public health policies and University guidelines require that we protect the privacy of all confirmed cases, so public announcements will respect the privacy of any students, faculty and professional staff who may have the virus. The Student Health Center will contact individuals who may have been exposed so that they’re aware of that exposure, and they will monitor their health for up to two weeks, which is the incubation period of the virus.