Frequently Asked Questions for Students, Parents, and Families
We will continue to add additional information to this page as more information becomes available and as necessary.
Classes & Academic Schedule | Safety Protocol | Commencement | Academic Resources and Student Support Services | Summer Research | Tuition, Room and Board | Athletics | Student Employment | Campus Dining | Residence Halls and Campus Facilities | Student Health and Wellness | Travel and Study Abroad
- How many students will be allowed back to campus this fall?
In light of the measures we must take to adhere to guidance from public health experts and ensure proper physical distancing, we will invite certain cohorts back to start the fall semester on campus.
In close consultation with the Facilities Planning Group, we have determined that we can safely accommodate approximately 900 students on campus this fall. That figure is based on factors such as the number of rooms available to house all students in single bedrooms, the ratio of students to bathrooms in the residence halls, necessary cleaning protocols, our capacity to observe physical distancing in our dining facilities, and our ability to reserve housing spaces in the event students need to be quarantined and isolated.
In consultation with faculty, and considering numerous factors such as the pedagogical advantages to different combinations of students, the impact on curricular progress, socioeconomic circumstances that may disadvantage certain students, housing considerations, etc., the following groups of students may return to campus this fall:
- First-year students
- Incoming transfer students
- Resident Assistants
- Will Juniors and Seniors get a chance to be on campus this year?
We understand that many of our juniors and seniors may be disappointed by the approach to limit on-campus study to first-year students and sophmores. We did not arrive at this decision easily. Our goal is to return to full enrollment for the spring semester. If, based on the course of the virus and what we learn about operations during the fall semester, we are unable to return to full enrollment in the spring, we will prioritize inviting juniors and seniors back to campus our juniors and seniors for the spring semester, which would give all students an on-campus experience during the academic year and allow our seniors to spend their final semester on campus.
- I am not in one of the cohorts that will be returning to campus, can I get approval to return to campus this fall?
Students whose ability to learn remotely is severely challenged by various personal circumstances and who are not included in one of the cohorts above will also have the opportunity to seek approval from the College to return to campus this fall. We will soon share details on how to do so.
- What if I am in a cohort that will be invited back to campus but I want to attend Swarthmore remotely?
Some students who are invited back may wish to continue learning remotely. Others may wish to pause their education at Swarthmore. No student is required to return to campus.
- Will the fall 2020 academic calendar and related due dates change?
We have made adjustments to the academic calendar to accommodate our continued modified operations. Here is a summary of the revised calendar for the 2020 fall semester:
- First day of classes — Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day)
- Last day of on-campus experiences — Friday, Nov. 20
- Phased departure of students who are on-campus — Friday, Nov. 20–Sunday, Nov. 22
- Thanksgiving Break — Saturday, Nov. 21–Sunday, Nov. 29
- Classes resume fully remotely — Monday, Nov. 30
- Last day of classes — Friday, Dec. 4
- Reading Period — Saturday, Dec. 5–Monday, Dec. 7
- Final Exams — Tuesday, Dec. 8–Tuesday, Dec. 15
By ending on-campus experiences before Thanksgiving, we reduce student travel to and from campus and therefore mitigate the risk of individuals spreading COVID-19. In the interest of reducing travel, we are also eliminating both fall and spring breaks. You can review a more detailed 2020-21 academic calendar on the College’s website.
- How will the January term (J-term) work?
This year, we are introducing a January term — an intensive, fully remote experience in which students will be able to enroll in one class that will run Jan. 4–Jan. 29, 2021. This new term will afford us the flexibility to reimagine the distribution of courses across the academic year. Traditionally, students take four courses in each of the fall and spring semesters. Based on feedback from students and faculty alike, we recognize that a four-class load in a remote environment is taxing in ways that differ from the in-person experience. A normal course load in the fall will be 3–3.5 credits. Remaining credit requirements will be distributed across the new J-Term and spring semesters. More information is forthcoming.
- When will the Spring semester begin?
The spring semester will begin on Monday, Feb. 15.
- Will classes be held remotely or in person this fall?
We expect that most classes in the fall — including all large lectures — will be held remotely, even for those students who are on campus. (Individuals participating in the limited number of in-person classes offered will be required to wear face masks and maintain proper physical distancing.) Whether students are on or off campus, they will be able to fully participate in the academic experience.
- Will I be required to attend in-person classes if I am on campus this fall?
We are working to determine how our campus spaces may be used in ways that ensure we adhere to public health guidelines and best practices and will have clear campus guidelines in place prior to students’ return to campus, however no student will be required to attend in-person classes, nor will any faculty member be required to teach on campus this fall.
- What if I cannot participate in class because of time zone constraints?
Every student cannot be expected to participate in all live presentations due to time zone or other constraints, so your faculty are encouraged to also provide you with a recorded version of every class meeting.
- I have questions about taking a gap year - who should I talk to?
If you are a first-year or transfer student, please contact Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock with any questions. All other students who wish to learn more about taking time off should consult this information from the Dean’s Office.
- What safety protocols will be in place as some of us return to campus?
We continue to consult with infectious disease and public health experts to develop and implement a series of new protocols designed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading on campus. We will require all students, faculty, and staff to wear face masks while they are in shared spaces on campus. We also plan to implement mandatory regular testing and symptom screening of both our employees and students who are on campus, and, in the event a member of the campus community contracts COVID-19, we will conduct aggressive contact tracing in order to contain the virus to the best of our ability. We will also reserve housing so that we can quarantine students who exhibit symptoms, are determined to have been at risk of exposure, or contract the virus.
- What is the campus pledge?
Our best approach to minimizing the impact of COVID-19 on our campus community is to embrace a shared sense of responsibility for each other’s wellbeing. While we cannot eliminate the risks altogether, we can collectively work to mitigate them. We will ask each member of our community to sign a pledge before returning to campus — a commitment to following the College’s policies and protocols and taking appropriate actions to keep each other safe. While the pledge is still being developed, at a minimum, everyone will be expected to adhere to strict masking policies on campus, realizing that doing so protects others around you, including faculty and staff members, who scientific data suggest are more susceptible to the virus than the vast majority of our students.
We will follow strict physical distancing protocols and regularly remind community members to practice good hygiene, including washing your hands frequently. If you’re feeling ill, or even just a bit under the weather, you will be expected to think of the rest of the community and make the decision to self-isolate. Students will be asked to commit to largely remaining on campus, neither traveling to the city nor visiting friends at other campuses. As we work to develop practices and policies, please remember that we will do so with the safety of our entire community in mind.
- When and how will Commencement be held for the Class of 2021?
Commencement for the Class of 2021 will take place Sunday, May 30, 2021.
- Can I reach out to faculty members with additional questions?
Departments and programs will reach out to you directly, but do not hesitate to contact department chairs, program coordinators, and department and program administrative assistants should you need any other information. They look forward to assisting you in returning to our virtual campus for the rest of the semester. Many have shared messages that you will find here.
- I need assistance with preregistration, transcripts, honors, CR/NC grades, or course withdrawal. Who should I contact?
The Registrar’s Office can help with preregistration, honors, transcripts, the CR/ NC policy, and Course Withdrawal. Email email@example.com and/or look for answers to many questions at swarthmore.edu/registrar.
- How can I find out who my student dean is?
Student deans are available by email or video conference for consultation and academic support. You can find your assigned dean’s name in the “degree audit” section in mySwarthmore. We stand ready to be your sounding board and connect you to resources that might be helpful to you.
- I don’t have a reliable internet connection or computer at home, or I need some other assistance with my remote learning setup. Who should I contact?
Information Technology Services has been at work since the beginning of this crisis to ensure a seamless transition to remote learning. ITS has a page of resources dedicated exclusively to students. You can be in touch with ITS for advice/consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-328-8513.
- I need assistance with disability accommodations. Who can I contact?
Director Monica Vance is the point of contact for all students registered with the Office of Academic Success and for those with new inquiries. If you have questions about your approved disability accommodations, or if you want to request accommodations for a new or previously diagnosed disability or chronic health condition, please contact her at email@example.com.
- How can I access course materials and other digital academic resources?
The Libraries remain dedicated as partners in achieving your academic goals. The librarians are here to help you find materials including textbooks and reserves, generate ideas for a project, and discover and access research sources. Additional detailed information is linked from the Libraries homepage in the Library Services for Online Distance Learning.
- Ask the Library questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or via chat.
- Send questions about due dates and renewals to email@example.com.
- Schedule a virtual meeting with one of the librarian subject specialists to discuss library resources.
Search Research Guides for DIY help in finding resources.
To request a digital version of a physical item, use the form linked in the Tripod record.
The library will attempt to acquire an ebook or streamed-video version for you.
Unsure how to access these resources from off campus? This document will guide you.
Many Film & Video Collection materials are available for streaming.
The Swarthmore Campus & Community Store has also provided an exceptional program to ensure that students have access to the materials they need to succeed in their courses.
- How can I connect with Career Services this semester?
For questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For support with application materials, email email@example.com. To schedule a phone or Zoom counseling appointment reach out to our team of career counselors via Handshake.
- How will the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility operate this semester?
The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and the Center for Innovation and Leadership have provided information on how they plan to operate through the spring semester.
- How can I connect with the Office of Fellowships and Prizes this semester?
The Office of Fellowships and Prizes will be conducting remote information sessions throughout April. The sessions will be announced by email and posted on the F&P webpage. To set up a remote meeting, contact the Fellowships and Prizes Advisor Melissa Mandos (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- I am an international student. What support is available from the International Student Center during this time?
The ISC has shifted to remote and virtual online services and support until further notice, but will continue to support and advocate for International students during this crisis. International students can find important information on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting visa status and travel on our website.
We have been emailing students with updates, changes, and alerts related to immigration regulations and visa concerns, and are assisting with work permits, travel signatures, and STEM extensions. We are also working on issuing i-20's for the class of 2024 for international students. The ISC is also available to assist students with getting the appropriate support if they are experiencing Xenophobia or other forms of intolerance.
- How will fall tuition be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn have had a significant impact on many of our students and their families. As such, we are eliminating the planned tuition increase for the 2020-21 academic year and instead setting tuition at the same rate as the 2019-20 academic year. In addition, the Financial Aid Office has established a reconsideration process for families whose short- and long-term finances have been adversely affected by these difficult times. For more information, please refer to the Financial Aid website.
- If I am not in a cohort that has been invited back to campus this fall, will I be charged room and board?
Only students who return to campus will be billed for room and board charges. Because of the change in the academic calendar, we expect that bills for the fall semester will be mailed in late July, and they will be payable in late August. As always, payment plans are available for families upon request; more information about payment plans is available on the College’s website.
- Is the Fall Housing Lottery taking place? How do I select a room for the Fall 2020 semester?
The Fall Housing Lottery will be postponed until after spring move-out. All room selections will take place remotely and students should expect to receive additional information about Fall housing options after May 25, 2020. At this time, returning students do not need to do anything related to room selection.
- Can I live in my current room during the Fall 2020 semester?
The College has received requests from students interested in living in their current rooms in the Fall. We are looking into this option and will share additional information about this process closer to the Fall Housing Lottery.
- I requested housing disability accommodations for the coming year, when will I learn my request has been approved?
Students who previously requested housing disability accommodations for the upcoming year will receive notification about their requests from Student Disability Services in the coming weeks.
- Will athletics resume this fall?
Athletics and physical education play a significant role in maintaining and strengthening the wellbeing of our community members;, and our colleagues in athletics are designing robust offerings for the upcoming academic year to support our physical and mental health. Unfortunately, all of the measures we’re putting in place to keep our community members safe — strict physical distancing and masking policies, limits on the number of students returning to campus, severely restricted college travel, etc. — will prohibit our participation in intercollegiate athletic competition during for the fall semester.
- I have a job that can be performed remotely. Can I continue to work?
Please check with your supervisor. As noted below, if your job is considered to be essential to fulfilling the College’s academic mission and can be performed remotely, your supervisor may grant you permission to continue in your job. This applies to both work-aided and non-aided students. If you are a work-aided student who is approved to work remotely, your pay will be in addition to the base payment mentioned above.
- I do not currently have a job that can be done remotely, but I am interested in doing so . How do I find out about such job openings?
Certain positions that can be performed remotely and are essential to fulfilling the College's academic mission may be posted and filled upon recommendation of supervisors with the approval of the relevant member of the President’s Staff. Such positions will be available to work-aided and non-work-aided students. Any hours worked in these approved positions will be paid as timesheets are submitted and approved in accordance with the College’s student bi-weekly payroll schedule. These payments will be made in addition to the one-time payment described above. Student employment will provide additional guidance on this process in the coming days.
- How do I get more information about student employment?
- What will the dining options be on campus this summer and fall?
Beginning Monday, June 1, all campus dining operations will move to Essie Mae’s and other campus dining locations will be closed until further notice. We are still determing what dining will look like in the fall for those cohorts who will return to campus, but will keep our community updated.
Monday through Friday
Breakfast and Lunch: 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
Dinner: Takeout only, pickup during lunchtime hours.
Saturday and Sunday
Dining Services will be closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Science Center Cafe: Closed
- If I am not in one of the cohorts invited to campus this fall but I live nearby, can I access campus facilities?
Please note that if you are not in one of the cohorts listed above but choose to live in nearby off-campus housing this fall, you will not have access to campus facilities.
- If I receive permission to stay on campus, can I have guests?
No. The residence halls currently have a no-guest policy. This means that individuals who are not students at the College will not be allowed inside the residence halls, without explicit permission to be on campus.
- Will the Matchbox remain open?
Due to guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health that facilities in Delaware County, including gyms, should close in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Matchbox will be closed until further notice.
- Will The Inn at Swarthmore and Broad Table Tavern maintain normal operations?
The Inn at Swarthmore will remain open for guest stays and bookings, but will be closed to public access. On March, 16, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars in Delaware County to close their dine-in facilities for 14 days effective Monday, March 16 to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As such, the Broad Table Tavern will be limited to carry-out service only, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please reach out directly to the email@example.com with any questions.
- Will the Swarthmore Campus and Community Store remain open?
The Campus & Community Store will reopen on Monday, June 15, and be open weekly from noon–6 p.m. Monday through Saturday until further notice. Masks and social distancing will be required for all store visitors.
- Am I responsible for the costs of testing?
No. The College will pay for testing, though some costs may be billed through insurance.
- Am I able to access Student Health and Wellness services during this time?
The Health Center continues to be closed for in person appointments, however the staff is committed to monitoring email and are working on travel health documents for students planning travel during the fall semester. If you are having an urgent health care need, please call the on-call registered nurse at 610-328-8548. If you are having an emergency, call Public Safety at 610-328-8333 or dial 911.
If you have a non-urgent, routine question, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and a Worth Health Center staff member will get back to you within 48-72 hours. Please refrain from leaving voicemails, as they will not be checked regularly. The Health Center website has an updated list of local resources.
- I am immunocompromised and worried about remaining on campus. What support can the College provide?
If you have reason to believe you may be especially susceptible to the coronavirus, please contact the Worth Health and Wellness Center at 610-328-8058 during regular business hours or the on-call nurse at 610-328-8548 after hours. We will work closely with students to discuss how they can best protect against the spread of disease.
- Am I able to access CAPS services during this time?
CAPS continues to offer confidential mental health consultations on two platforms:
- CAPS On-Call. Available 24 hours/day, every day at 610-328-7768.
- Zoom based individual consultations are available until May 1, 2020. Submit a request here.
- I need to make changes to my travel plans. Who from the College can assist me?
Please contact your assigned dean or the Office of Student Engagement for assistance.
- I had to change my travel plans, which resulted in additional fees. Will the College help pay those?
Several airlines are waiving fees for changes related to COVID-19. If you are unsuccessful in recovering those costs by working with your respective airlines, the College will work to reimburse those fees. If your financial circumstances prevent you from returning home, please contact the Dean of Students Division at 610-328-8365 to discuss how the College can best support you.
- I just returned to campus, and now I have to travel home again. Can the College provide any financial assistance?
If you’ve already returned to campus from spring break-related activities and now need to return home, in certain circumstances the College may provide financial assistance to help with those travel arrangements. please contact the Dean of Students Division at 610-328-8365 to discuss how the College can best support you.
- Will I be able to study abroad this fall?
Given the uncertainty of travel in the coming months, Swarthmore students will not be permitted to study abroad in the fall semester. We hope to be able to allow study abroad in the spring under safer and more certain conditions. In the meantime, we will continue to seek to understand, communicate with, and remain engaged with the wider world. The Off-Campus Study Office will be working with the Provost’s Office to plan for spring study abroad if possible, and to facilitate the exchange of virtual guest lectures across countries and continents with Swarthmore faculty.