Return to Winter Term: Important Updates (Students)
December 21, 2021
This message was sent to students on December 21, 2021.
- The start of the winter quarter and some spring semester programs has been modified in response to current COVID-19 data and forecasted pandemic conditions.
- For quarter programs, Week 1 of winter quarter (week of January 3) will be conducted in a remote synchronous format (and lectures and class discussions will be recorded where possible).
- For clinical and semester programs in the Colleges of Medicine, Education, Law, and Nursing & Health Professions, please see below for more details.
- On-campus research activities will continue. Current health and safety protocols remain in place.
- Students returning or moving into Drexel housing will receive information about a staggered return to campus housing/move-in.
- All eligible faculty, staff and students are required to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster.
- New Philadelphia indoor dining guidelines are effective Jan 3.
Dear Drexel Students,
The health and wellbeing of our University community remains the utmost priority as we head into the new year. As you are likely aware, there has recently been a significant regional and national increase in COVID-19 cases due to the delta and omicron variants. There have already been surges on campus at some universities, leading to remote final exams and further changes in academic calendars. Drexel did extremely well during the pandemic in the fall term. However, the current uncertainty around omicron poses challenges for the start of in-person classes.
While current data indicates that infection with the omicron variant often appears to result in milder illness among fully vaccinated persons, some infected persons will feel ill, and all infected persons will still need to isolate. Students and employees who test positive over the break may not be able to travel to campus or they may test positive upon arrival to campus. Amidst uncertainty, our goal is to ensure continuity of academic instruction while best supporting the health and safety of our community.
Remote Week 1
In response to public health factors including the highly transmissible omicron variant and heightened holiday-related travel, the first week of the winter quarter and some spring semester programs (week of January 3) will be conducted in a remote synchronous format. This will provide additional time for vaccine boosters, COVID-19 testing and an assessment of pandemic conditions before the return to in-person instruction.
What we learn over the next several weeks will determine whether we return to in-person instruction or remain remote for Week 2 (week of January 10). Currently, our goal is to return to in-person instruction for Week 2. The decision regarding Week 2 will be announced by January 3, and will ultimately be guided by science, regional transmission, guidance from public health authorities and campus conditions. All updates will be communicated as early as possible.
Clinical & Semester Programs
In the College of Medicine, remote learning will occur in Week 1 (week of Jan 3) for first- and second-year medical students and biomedical graduate student didactic sessions. Third- and fourth-year medical students are expected to participate in clinical rotations as scheduled. Students in laboratory and clinical settings are expected to resume normal activities effective January 3, 2022.
The remote Week 1 does not apply to students on clinical rotations in the College of Nursing & Health Professions and the School of Education. Students with clinical assignments are expected to attend.
The remote Week 1 does not apply to semester programs in the Kline School of Law, which begins its spring semester on January 10.
All eligible Drexel faculty, staff and students are now required to get a COVID-19 booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the Winter term. The omicron variant is highly contagious. Available data shows that current vaccines are approximately 35% protective against infection with the omicron variant, and international vaccines approved by WHO offer little, if any, protection against the omicron variant. Booster doses significantly increase protection against infection for all vaccinated students.
Please make every effort to obtain your booster dose before the start of winter term. All eligible students will be required to receive their COVID-19 booster six months after their last COVID-19 vaccine dose was administered (or two months after the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine). It is the expectation that all individuals receive their booster shot as soon as they become eligible. Students should provide documentation of a booster unless they already have a medical or religious vaccine exemption.
Drexel is offering an additional booster clinic at Behrakis Hall in the Creese Student Center on December 21. Schedule your booster appointment with SunRay Drugs.
Boosters are also available at many retail pharmacies and at Drexel's Student Health Center through appointment.
Providing Proof of Booster
You can record your COVID-19 booster in the Drexel Health Checker app.
- Click on "More," then select the Vaccine Records menu.
- Choose the option to ADD a vaccine record. Then select BOOSTER plus the vaccine manufacturer/type from the list and add the booster dose information.
On-Campus Housing & Testing
All students living in Drexel residence halls and Greek properties will be tested as they return to campus regardless of vaccination status. Students will soon receive an email from the Housing and Residence Life team with instructions on how to schedule a return/move-in timeslot and how to schedule their return testing.
Testing will also be available to off-campus students and all employees. Testing schedules for exempted students and employees will be communicated separately.
Note that while campus testing sites will be closed December 24 – January 3, students can obtain testing through Student Health by calling 215-220-4700. Students and employees should still use the Drexel Health Checker to communicate their symptoms or exposure information and to upload any positive test results obtained outside the university.
New Changes to Philadelphia Dining
Starting January 3, Philadelphia is instituting a vaccine mandate for restaurants, bars, and other establishments that sell food or drink for onsite consumption. This mandate does not apply to Drexel's dining halls. Those who are fully vaccinated should be prepared to show proof when entering a dining establishment. In many places, "proof" will consist of showing your vaccine card, so be sure to have it with you upon return to campus. Drexel community members who have received a vaccine exemption will be provided information on what form to use for accessing Philadelphia establishments with indoor dining.
Getting Through the Pandemic Together
Drexel experienced a great fall term, and we did so because of you: your resilience; your ability and willingness to follow guidance, including wearing masks indoors for long periods of time; and your commitment to being in person with your friends and professors. The COVID pandemic can be exhausting, but we need to continue to do what we know works: vaccination, masking, testing and assessing risks before we take them.
We understand that changes to the winter term at this late date can be disruptive. We know this may be frustrating, and we appreciate your patience as we respond to rapid developments with the goal of keeping our campus community safe. We know you have your own logistics to sort out, and we will continue to let you know about new developments as soon as possible. In addition, you'll find the latest announcements on our Response to Coronavirus site.
Thank you all for your flexibility as we continue to prioritize the health and safety of the Drexel community.
We wish you a happy, healthy, and restful break.
All the best,
Paul E. Jensen
Executive Vice President
Nina Henderson Provost
Marla J. Gold
Chief Wellness Officer
Senior Vice Provost for Community Health
Senior Vice President for Student Success