For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Winter Academic Experience at Westphal

October 30, 2020

Updated on Monday, November 2, 2020

On Thursday, October 29, Drexel University President John Fry outlined a plan for an expanded return to campus for winter term. The Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is looking forward to welcoming many of our undergraduate students back in January, and we are working to ensure the safest and most engaging educational experience possible for our community, whether you are taking courses remotely or face-to-face. We know you have many questions about what this reopening means for you, and we will share more detailed insights in the coming days to help you make informed decisions about your courses and your return to Drexel’s campus. As President Fry’s email stated:

  • Most classes will continue to be taught remotely.
  • Graduate classes will continue with a mix of on-campus and remote instruction for the winter term.
  • Winter quarter is delayed one week until January 11; it will be a 9-week quarter.
  • Regular COVID-19 screening testing protocols to be implemented.
  • Some face-to-face and hybrid classes will be offered for first-year students, and for juniors and seniors who require access to lab and studio classes for courses imperative for graduation. Further information on access to the buildings will be forthcoming.*

*The Provost's Office has granted Westphal permission to submit a facilities access plan that grants limited access to studios, labs and shops for first-year students, sophomores, pre-juniors, juniors, and seniors only to work on projects necessary to move forward in their degree. 

New Policies and Procedures Are in Place to Ensure a Safe Learning Environment

Our utmost priority is your safety, and we will continue to share detailed plans in accordance with the most up-to-date guidelines from Drexel University and public health officials. Regular COVID-19 testing protocols will be implemented at the University level, along with designated isolation and quarantine space. Drexel students will be required to wear a cloth face covering in Drexel University buildings and public spaces on campus. Social distancing is required, and hand hygiene remains critically important. There will be a zero-tolerance policy for non-compliance with masking and social distancing protocols in Westphal facilities.

To ensure a safe and engaging learning experience this fall, we instituted a number of policies and procedures in line with University and City public health guidelines. These will continue to be in effect: 

  • Masks Required: Face coverings are required at all times in all Drexel buildings.
  • Designated Entrances and Exits: In order to help guide traffic flows, signs are posted on all Drexel building exterior doors designating which should be used for entrance and which for exit.
  • Classrooms and Public Spaces: Westphal’s plans for our classroom and public spaces have been reviewed numerous times by University experts and City of Philadelphia health officials and have exceeded standards. 
  • The capacity of our classroom spaces has been reduced by 60-80 percent to accommodate necessary social distancing.
  • Seating capacity has been reduced in some of our public spaces and lounge areas.
  • Where necessary, furniture has been moved (or removed) to maintain social distancing.  
  • Signage: Signage has been posted throughout Westphal College buildings and at all of our entry and exit points. These include social distancing reminders, mask/face covering requirements, elevator capacities, assigned seats in classrooms to ensure social distancing, hygiene reminders, directional signage in stairwells and maximum capacity notices for each room.
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing: Increased sanitizing happens throughout the day and evening in all classroom and public spaces. Additional hand-sanitizing stations have been installed, and sanitizing wipes are available outside of each classroom. Our Facilities team has been trained on proper cleaning protocols and has been working diligently on deep cleaning all surfaces, bathrooms, common spaces and other high-touch areas throughout this fall quarter.

Course Delivery Methods & Flexibility

Drexel is preparing for a delayed start to winter term to accommodate a 14-day quarantine for first-year students, juniors, seniors, and graduate students returning to face-to-face or hybrid classes. First-year students will begin moving into campus housing with single-occupancy room assignments the week of January 4, 2021. Course delivery during the week of January 11 will be fully virtual to allow for the completion of a quarantine period, with some classes moving to a face-to-face or hybrid format beginning January 18. The majority of courses will continue to be taught remotely.

Face-to-face instruction are available only to students in their first year, junior and senior course sequences imperative for graduation, and graduate students. We are working on a facilities access plan for all students, including first-year students, sophomore, pre-juniors, juniors, and seniors. Further and more specific guidance will come from your program directors. Course delivery method will be updated on the Term Master Schedule and in Schedule Ahead in time for registration opening on Monday, November 2, 2020. Students who are unable to attend in-person for any reason will be able to fulfill their academic requirements via virtual instruction.

Graduate classes will continue with a mix of on-campus and remote instruction for the winter term.

Access to Westphal Facilities

A plan for Westphal facilities access and occupancy is forthcoming, with potential for classroom, studio and lab time reservation procedures and faculty and staff oversight.

Additional Resources

For those students with Drexel housing questions, please continue to monitor your email for updates, regularly check Drexel’s housing website, or email your questions to

International students should continue to monitor the International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS) website for important information. Stay tuned for specific course information from your department and Program Director.

The Drexel University Libraries is open virtually and on campus. Visit the Drexel Libraries’ COVID-19 response page for the latest information and updates about navigating the Libraries’ virtual and on-campus facilities and services.

What’s Next

We are working now with all program directors on what projects are essential for students to have access to the buildings to complete, and to look at how we can both monitor and provide access to the buildings. We must review all these details at once and get an understanding of how many students would be in the buildings and how we would work out the timing and access. It’s a bit of a puzzle for us to figure out. After our analysis is complete, we must get our plans approved by our health officials. There is no guarantee we will be able to get all students access. However, we will try very best.

We know you have many more questions, and we will be working hard over the next few weeks to provide answers. More details regarding courses, course delivery methods, facilities access, and much more will be provided at a department and program level in the coming weeks. We ask for your patience and understanding as we continue to work through challenges and develop the appropriate policies and procedures necessary to bring back our students safely.

For the latest on Drexel’s response to COVID-19 and our return to campus, visit