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Expectations and Accommodations for the Return to Campus

August 27, 2021

This message was sent out to faculty and staff by the Provost on August 27, 2021.

In this Message:

  • Remote Accommodations for Students
  • Remote Companion Courses
  • Faculty Accommodations
  • Protocol for Contact Tracing and Changing Course Modality

Dear Colleagues,

Since the announcement in May that we are planning for a return to normal capacity in our instructional and research spaces, teams across the University have been working diligently to prepare for full on-campus operations. I’m happy to share that 80% of Drexel’s undergraduate courses will be taught in person this September, compared to roughly 85% taught in person pre-COVID. Students enrolled in on-campus programs are expected to return to campus in the fall to participate in person, with limited exceptions.

Remote Accommodations for Students

There are a few student populations that will face unique challenges this fall, requiring or requesting remote course accommodations to remain enrolled. 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. The deadline for all students requesting remote accommodations is September 1, 2021.

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. To provide clarity and consistency in responses, a Teams site with detailed process documents has been shared with key members of each college and school.

Remote Companion Courses

As student requests for accommodations are approved, the Office of the University Registrar is working with the colleges and schools to plan any remote sections that may be needed. If a remote section is added to an in-person course, the faculty member will be contacted by their college. Course schedulers and the Registrar will be working to add students to existing remote or online course sections before creating remote companion sections. To assist in planning, Enrollment Management and Student Success will be providing updated information about the number of international students requesting a remote fall quarter leading up to the September 1 deadline.

It’s important to note that we are not expecting a HyFlex format for these remote companion courses; instead, most will be offered in a remote asynchronous modality to accommodate international students in different time zones. However, regardless of format, we recognize that faculty may need additional support to accommodate remote populations. Remote Course Facilitators, an invaluable resource facilitated by the Graduate College and comprising over 200 graduate students, will be available to assist instructors teaching required remote sections. The Provost’s Office is also in the process of updating classrooms to facilitate the recording of in-person classes. More details on support for remote and hybrid teaching will be shared in the coming week.

Faculty Accommodations

As the start of the fall term approaches, some of our academic units have received requests from faculty seeking accommodations for personal circumstances related to the pandemic. Faculty who are seeking accommodations based on a documented disability must contact Human Resources to determine if they meet the criteria for approval. The same process applies to professional staff. Please note that accommodations based on the needs of family members or anyone other than the individual requesting cannot be accepted through this process. If the request for accommodations is unrelated to a disability, faculty must work with their department head to determine if the issue can be addressed. However, please keep in mind that departments cannot shift courses already scheduled to be in-person to a remote format. We are working on guidelines to support colleges and schools should a faculty member become sick or require quarantine during the course of the term.

We remain committed to coming back to campus in the fall and have 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.

Protocol for Contact Tracing and Changing Course Modality

If a faculty member or student believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 or is made aware of a potential exposure in the classroom, there is a process and team in place to review each case and determine the best path forward. To ensure the proper protocols are followed, faculty and departments should not make decisions outside of this process or attempt their own contact tracing.

The approved process is as follows:

  • If a faculty member believes they were exposed to COVID-19, is made aware of a potential exposure in the classroom before hearing from the Contact Tracing Team, or if other extenuating circumstances arise, the faculty member should email COVID19Health@drexel.edu.
  • The decision as to whether to move the class to a remote format for a fixed period of time will be made after Drexel’s Contact Tracing team, led by the Director of COVID Health and Safety, has completed a review of the case. Infrequently, faculty may be advised to move a course to a remote format immediately, if the situation warrants a more broad and detailed investigation based on unusual circumstances.
  • Once the COVID Health and Safety Team decides that a class should move to remote format, the Contact Tracing team notifies key members of the Return Oversight Committee, the Office of Health & Counseling and Inter-College Advising. The appropriate dean and professor will also be notified and will be provided directions for the class, including duration of time to be remote, if/when all members need to be tested, and when the class can return to normal activity. A formal email from the Contact Tracing team is sent to all members of the class relaying the same information. This communication is coordinated with the faculty member, so that they can inform students of next steps regarding course material and any necessary changes to the lesson plan.

I’m grateful to the faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to make the return to campus possible. Please look out for more return-related communications in the next few weeks, and I look forward to seeing you on campus in September.

Sincerely,

Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost