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Campus Visitor Policy

The Swarthmore College campus is closed to visitors until further notice. This restriction includes College grounds, the Crum Woods, playing fields, and tennis courts. Additional information on the Inn at Swarthmore, the Broad Table Tavern, and the Campus and Community Store is available here

Faculty, staff, and students should continue to wear their Swarthmore ID card on a lanyard as a visual indicator of who is part of our on-campus community.

When we closed our facilities and grounds to visitors in August — which, as detailed in the letter below, we did in the interest of the health and safety of our residential students and our faculty and staff members who are working on campus — we pledged to continue evaluating that decision and reopen the campus as soon as practical. Though our campus population was significantly reduced once most of our students left for the winter break, we have continued to house students between then and the start of spring semester in February. That, in combination with the surge in cases we’re seeing across the region and projections of even higher positivity rates, has led us to make the difficult decision to keep the campus closed to visitors. While we expect that our neighbors in the surrounding community in particular will find this news disappointing, we hope they can appreciate the safety concerns behind this decision. We will continue to revisit this situation on an ongoing basis and will reopen the grounds as soon as it is responsible and practical to do so.

Letter from President Val Smith to residents of Swarthmore and the surrounding areas

Monday, August 31, 2020

Dear Friends,

Fall is typically a time of great excitement for Swarthmore, as students and families arrive on campus and begin to explore our beloved Borough. This new academic year is anything but typical, however, as it unfolds against the backdrop of a global pandemic and an atmosphere of  uncertainty and no small amount of anxiety.

This summer, we provided housing for approximately 60 students on campus, primarily those from other countries or who otherwise needed accommodation. 

You may know that Swarthmore College has invited roughly half its students — mostly first-year and sophomore students — to return to campus this fall. At present, the College anticipates that fewer than 700 students will be on campus for the fall semester. The reduced number will ensure that all students will be in single rooms and that the College can reserve a significant number of spaces for isolation in the event that students become ill. 

Still, there is an inherent risk in bringing 700 students from across the country back to campus. In consultation with the Borough, the College is taking several steps to mitigate the risk on and off campus. All students, faculty, and staff coming to campus will be required to take COVID-19 tests regularly. We are also discouraging any nonessential travel to and from campus, including to downtown Swarthmore stores and restaurants. While this policy will likely have an impact on our local businesses, we have heard from several business owners and residents that they are concerned about having students interacting with Borough residents under these circumstances.

Finally — and regrettably — Swarthmore College is closing the campus to visitors starting Aug. 31, the first day that students will begin moving onto campus. This restriction includes the campus grounds, the Crum Woods, playing fields, and tennis courts. The College will place signs on campus to note this closing.

We are making this difficult decision to ensure the safety of the on-campus community, as well as of residents of the Borough and surrounding area. Although outdoor spaces are generally considered safe, with nearly 700 students, as well as a significant number of faculty and staff, on campus, maintaining proper physical distancing will be much harder than it has been over the past five months.

Swarthmore College looks forward to opening its grounds to the public again as soon as practical. We will monitor the incidence of COVID-19 on campus based on regular testing; that data, along with positivity rates in the broader community, will inform our decision to reopen the campus grounds, the Crum Woods, and other outdoor spaces.

Borough residents have long enjoyed the benefits of living near a vibrant college campus and internationally renowned arboretum, so I know that this policy will disappoint many of our friends and neighbors. As many of you have told me, in recent months, when so many social activities have been unavailable, strolling or bicycling through campus has provided a much-needed respite. We hope you will appreciate the safety concerns driving the College’s decision regarding our grounds.

The College and the Borough enjoy a strong relationship, and we will continue to partner with the Borough to protect the safety of all who live and work in our community. We look forward to the time when we are able to welcome you back to campus.

Valerie Smith, President