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Hybrid Learning Model, Best Health Practices Reaffirm Fall Plans

July 15, 2020

Dear Students and Colleagues:

I know that many of you are concerned about the rising number of COVID-19 cases in other states, as well as an uptick in parts of Pennsylvania. Along with those trends, the federal government is pushing to fully open schools, businesses and a host of other services. But what do these developments mean for our plans to return to campus in the fall? If anything, I believe they reaffirm the validity of Drexel's approach.

With more than two months until the September 21 start of our fall quarter, we are deep into implementing a hybrid model for the new academic year. Our aim is to combine face-to-face teaching, student engagement and research, while responsibly reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection utilizing recommended, evidence-based public health measures augmented by testing protocols and individual health monitoring through the Drexel Health Tracker app.

With the health and safety of the Drexel community as our top priority, our decisions and processes for returning to campus are being guided by best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health authorities. We also are in close consultation with a science advisory group comprised of our own faculty experts. Meanwhile, deans, directors, and members of newly formed implementation groups are working with their units to develop plans for faculty, professional staff and graduate assistants to return to campus. And each move will be guided by the twin principles of implementing data-informed health and safety measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring high-quality educational, research and professional experiences for Drexel students.

This work is being guided by our Return Oversight Committee — a committed, interdisciplinary team following the course of the novel coronavirus while keeping a close eye on shifting federal, state and local guidelines. At the same time, the Committee is ensuring that students, faculty, and professional staff receive key information and have ample opportunities to seek answers to questions.

As part of our phased approach for the fall, the Committee is overseeing the implementation of a series of required protocols. Masks will be mandatory for everyone in all Drexel buildings at all times. In addition, students, faculty and professional staff will be required to complete an online health and safety training program prior to their arrival on campus.

Amid this pandemic, there may be no better way to fulfill our mission of civic engagement than to help safeguard the wider community in Philadelphia. Through our collective efforts to develop and communicate the measures we all need to follow in order to promote the well-being of everyone at Drexel, we also hope to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in West Philadelphia and across the city.

Although the pandemic has left many of us feeling unsure as to how the coming months will unfold, please know that the University is working to make sure students, faculty and professional staff are able to find the answers they need regarding plans for the fall. With the goal of providing clear and concise communications, we have launched a new COVID-19 website. The site offers a wealth of resources, including information for those who may be seeking medical advice or support, as well as answers to many questions.

While we move forward with plans to return to campus, we also have been working closely with allies in the higher education community to support international students, in particular.  As the result of the efforts and support of so many institutions, I am pleased that the recently issued federal policy that would have prohibited international students from taking a fully online schedule while in the United States has been rescinded. This unnecessary and punitive policy would have been unfair to both international students during this global crisis, as well as to institutions like ours that are enriched by their presence on campus. International students are an important part of the Drexel family, and I will continue to voice my adamant opposition to any policy that unfairly imperils their ability to pursue their university education.

Finally, not a day goes by where I am not grateful for the ongoing support and resilience shown by everyone in the Drexel community as we chart a path forward. I thank each of you for your commitment to Drexel during this challenging and uncertain time.


John Fry