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Fall 2021 Return to Campus FAQ for Students

Drexel University will return to in-person instruction for the Fall 2021 academic term. The following are frequently asked questions about the return to campus as it relates to academics and the classroom. This list will be continually updated as new information arises. For the latest public health and COVID-19 guidelines, please visit the Drexel Response to Coronavirus.

Last Updated: September 17, 2021

Classroom Health & Safety

Are masks required in classrooms?

As of August 3, 2021, Drexel requires all students and employees to wear a mask in all on-campus public and shared spaces, including instructional and research settings, regardless of vaccination status. Specifically, masks are to be worn in classrooms, lecture halls and seminar rooms. Masks are also now required when in Drexel libraries and in designated teaching and research laboratories/spaces. In addition, masks must be worn in all public spaces and settings where members of the public will use University facilities or visit the University. In general, at this time masks should be worn when indoors unless you are alone in an office or have a special exemption.

Are there circumstances in which students may ask for exemption from wearing a mask?

Students who are seeking accommodation based on a documented disability should contact the Office of Disability Resources at disability@drexel.edu to determine if they meet the criteria for approval.

Can students or instructors remove their masks when speaking or eating in class?

No, both students and instructors must keep their masks on for the entirety of the class period. Please refrain from eating in the classroom.

What if a student refuses to wear their mask in the classroom?

Drexel employs a layered approach to protecting the health and safety of our community. Masking is an important part of our collective commitment to reducing risk and staying safe on campus this fall.

If a student is not wearing a mask in the classroom, an instructor can ask the student to wear a mask. This may involve determining if there is a reason why the student is unable to comply with the request; for instance, they may not have a mask. If the instructor is able to assist the student in complying, such as directing them as to where to find a mask, they will do so. If the student refuses to mask, the instructor will inform the student that they will be referred to Student Conduct and they will be asked to leave the class.

Can my instructor ask for my vaccination status?

No, instructors are not allowed to ask students about vaccination status or other medical information. Members of the Drexel community cannot ask for an individual’s vaccination status unless the former is a University employee specifically tasked with ensuring that such requirements are met. The University will not share vaccination status with any faculty or staff member, other than those in a health and safety role on a need-to-know basis.

Do fully online graduate or undergraduate students need to provide evidence of vaccination status?

Per Drexel University’s policy, vaccination is not required for students who are attending fully online classes with no in-person requirements, who are not living on campus, AND who are not returning to campus at any time for any other reason including on-campus work, social engagements, or other extracurricular or programmatic activities. DragonCards will be deactivated for all students — including fully online students — who have not uploaded their proof of vaccination to the Drexel Health Checker unless they have received an approved medical or religious exemption; however this will not impact the ability to register for or attend/complete fully online classes. If at any time an online student enrolls in an in-person course on campus and/or a course that has any on-campus requirements, the student must comply with the mandatory vaccination requirements. If a student plans to be a visitor on campus at any time, they should follow the campus visitor COVID-19 requirements.

Is the University enforcing distancing in the classroom?

As of June 10, the University is operating at 100% capacity in all classrooms, labs, workspaces and University spaces. Consistent with current Philadelphia public health guidelines, there is no required social distancing.

What is the University doing to ensure its classrooms and facilities are safe?

As part of its commitment to being in-person in the fall, Drexel has taken many steps to prepare our classroom spaces and protect the health and safety of our community, with required vaccination as the most important step. Drexel Real Estate and Facilities has assessed the ventilation systems in each classroom and office space and purchased hundreds of new air filtration devices. We have also reinstated masking for all on-campus public and shared spaces, including instructional and research spaces, in line with City of Philadelphia requirements, to add a layer of protection against breakthrough infection and reduce the potential of classroom exposures. For more information on what the University is doing to ensure its classrooms and facilities are safe, please visit the Health and Safety page of the Drexel Response to Coronavirus website.

Accommodations and Absences

What kinds of accommodations are available to students who cannot return to campus in the fall?

We are committed to serving our international undergraduate and graduate students who are unable to obtain visas and travel to the U.S., as well as supporting students with documented disabilities through the Office of Disability Resources. The linked FAQs for international undergraduate and graduate students who are outside the U.S. detail the accommodation processes for these students.

We are also working to support our U.S.-based international students and domestic students facing extenuating circumstances, whenever possible. Colleges and schools, in collaboration with the University Registrar, are managing these requests directly. The deadline for all students requesting remote accommodations was September 1, 2021.

How is the University accommodating students with disability accommodations?

Students who seek accommodations or temporary adjustments for a documented disability should contact the Office of Disability Resources, which is the standard process.

What happens if I become sick with COVID-19 or require quarantine during the term? 

We understand that the traditional Absence from Class policy is not sufficient for the unprecedented challenges our students may be facing during the pandemic. Students required by Drexel to undergo a mandatory quarantine or isolation period will not be required to withdraw from a course. Instructors will make every effort to keep the student connected to the course material.

If you feel sick or must isolate or quarantine during the term, following these steps:

  • If you feel sick, follow the instructions on the following page: “What to Do If You Feel Sick.”
  • Contact your instructor as soon as possible and let them know that you will need to be absent from class. Students are not required to disclose any health information, including a suspected or confirmed illness from COVID-19, to faculty members.
  • Follow your instructor’s guidance on how to proceed with coursework. Depending on the course, this may involve viewing a recording of a missed class, working on an alternative assignment, joining the course via remote synchronous access, etc.
  • In the case of extended illness or absence, students should review the University’s Incomplete (INC) policy and Grade Appeals policy.
  • For more information about quarantine and isolation, please visit the Response to Coronavirus website.

Are there accommodation options for graduate student TAs?

Teaching assistants can seek accommodations based on a documented disability through Human Resources to determine if they meet the criteria for approval. If the request for accommodation is unrelated to a disability, TAs should contact their department head to determine if the issue can be addressed. Please keep in mind that departments cannot shift courses already scheduled to be in-person to a remote format.

What happens if a student is made aware of a potential COVID-19 exposure in the classroom?

Students should report a COVID-19 case, symptoms or exposure using the Drexel Health Checker app or by contacting the Student Health Center (215.220.4700). If you are not vaccinated and have been exposed, you will likely be asked to quarantine for at least 7 days; if you are vaccinated, you will likely be asked to monitor your health using the Drexel Health Checker and notify Student Health Center (215.220.4700) if you experience symptoms.

If Drexel’s COVID Health and Safety Team decides that a class should move to remote format, it will send an email to all members of the class, in addition to communicating with the instructor and academic department. Students will also receive an email from the faculty member informing students of next steps regarding course material and any necessary changes to the lesson plan.

Are instructors required to record classes?

The University is not requiring that all classes be recorded. Please refer to the syllabus for each course for information on whether the course will be recorded.

General Academic Questions

Will my class be online or in person?

Most undergraduate and graduate courses are returning to in-person teaching for the Fall 2021 term, with limited exceptions. All information regarding instructional methods for each course are noted in the Term Master Schedule as well as in DrexelOne when students search and register for courses.

How will instructors’ office hours be available?

Instructors may choose to hold office hours in person or virtually. However, if an instructor is teaching in person, it is strongly recommended that they also offer some in-person office hours. Masks are required indoors in public and shared spaces for all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated.

Are there any changes to the final exam period?

There are no changes to the final exam period. Please refer to the Academic Calendar for important academic dates throughout the year.

Are there any changes to grading for the 2021-2022 academic year?

No, normal grading policies will apply. The University returned to normal grading in Summer 2021 after offering optional Pass / No Pass grading from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021.

What academic support and resources are available for students?

Drexel continues to offer a wide variety of support resources for students engaged in all learning modalities. If a student is seeking academic support for coursework, they should visit the Learning Alliance webpage to explore tutoring and other content resources. In addition, the Center for Learning and Academic Success Support Services (CLASS) offers peer and professional academic coaching to customize learning strategies to individual student needs; they are also well-versed on all institutional resources and can help students get connected to the appropriate support.

Travel and Wellness

What are the University’s travel guidelines and procedures?

As announced on May 28, Drexel is in Phase 3 of our COVID-19 Essential Travel Guidance and is now allowing limited University-related travel.

All Drexel travelers participating in University-related travel are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Travel by non-vaccinated travelers with a University-approved medical or religious exemption may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Travelers will need to complete a pre-travel attestation available at this link. This adjustment to the COVID-19 Essential Travel Guidance permits domestic travel for vaccinated travelers to occur with supervisor approval. International travel for vaccinated travelers will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the Essential Travel Review Committee. Supervisors should continue to only support essential travel at this time.

Travel must be approved in order to be eligible for reimbursement, and all travel should be booked through World Travel, Drexel’s travel management company.

Full details on updates and new guidance documents are available now on the COVID-19 Essential Travel Guidance page of the Procurement Services website.

What resources are available to support the health and wellness of students?

Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus website lists resources and ideas on its Mental Health and Wellness page. The Office of Counseling and Health Services also maintains a comprehensive list of resources around topics like coping with COVID-19, suicide prevention, peer counseling, anxiety and stress reduction, and more. Please visit the Crisis Resources page for contact info related to mental health emergencies. Graduate students can also contact SupportLinc, part of Drexel’s Employee Assistance Program, or view more health and wellness resources on the Graduate College website.

Students should visit the Student Health Center, staffed by doctors and nurse practitioners from Drexel Medicine, for physical health services. If they are having symptoms, students should contact the Student Health Center right away by phone (215.220.4700) or through the Drexel Health Checker. For more information, they should visit the What to Do If You Feel Sick page.