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Return to On-Campus Work - Summer and Academic Year 2021-22

As a residential liberal arts institution, Swarthmore College values a vibrant community for learning, living, and working. As such, beginning in the fall semester, employees of academic departments will perform their work primarily on campus. Some remote and hybrid work may be retained in limited capacities at the discretion of the department chair. Summarized below are key points informing the return to campus for instructional staff and staff members within the academic departments. Some specific health and safety policies will be finalized later in the summer by the COVID-19 Planning Group as informed by federal and state guidelines. The provost consulted the associate deans of the faculty, the associate provost, the members of the Council on Educational Policy, the Committee on Faculty Procedures, the Curriculum Committee, members of the Human Resources Office, the Office of General Counsel, the College’s panel of alumni public health experts, and the College’s medical and public health experts.

Basic Assumptions for the Summer and the Academic Year

All Classes InPerson

All faculty and instructional staff will return to campus to offer classes, labs, studios, and group learning in person. We will only enroll students who can rejoin campus in person. We will only employ instructional staff who can teach on campus and who can live in the U.S. Students with visa difficulties will be offered the option of a gap semester or a gap year. 

Limited Remote and Virtual Options

The expectation for faculty and students is that all instruction will be in person. Virtual and hybrid options may be used occasionally by faculty and instructional staff. We appreciate that individual academic departments and programs may want to discuss a combination of practices that works best for them, for example, having occasional meetings, lectures, or office hours with virtual technology, including hosting guest lecturers remotely. 

Health, Safety and Vaccinations

We will continue to hold the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff members paramount. The science is unequivocal that vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 or minimize the severity of the virus. 

All students returning to campus are required to be vaccinated. At this time, all faculty and staff are highly encouraged to be vaccinated. Students who arrive on campus without prior vaccinations will receive a vaccine upon their arrival to campus. All members of the community are required to confirm their vaccination status via mySwarthmore. For the small fraction of faculty, students, and staff who are not able to be vaccinated, masking and weekly testing may be required.

Although mask-wearing outside on campus is no longer required for those who have been fully vaccinated, should the campus move away from compulsory mask-wearing inside, anyone who would like to continue wearing a mask is welcome to do so. 

Using the Summer for Gradual Reboarding – This summer, we will return to on-campus work gradually for faculty, staff, and students. Several faculty members, students, and staff, as well as those who have continued to work on campus all through the pandemic, will be present. Approximately 200 students will be living on campus. The Matchbox, McCabe Library, the Dining Hall, Science Center Café and Essie Mae’s will have hours and restrictions posted. By mid-June, all current faculty, staff and students will have OneCard access to the campus facilities that they normally would. Campus buildings in general, however, remain closed to visitors this summer. 

Campus policy requires permission for guests to be on campus, and that policy continues over the course of the summer. To request permission for guests of faculty and staff, please contact the Provost’s Office. Any faculty or staff member who would like to bring a visitor to an inside space on campus must have permission from the Provost or the Vice President within whose portfolio the faculty or staff member works. 

What this means for the members of the Academic Departments

 Instructional Staff

Instructional staff may return to on-campus work at any point over the summer. Please indicate your COVID vaccination status in mySwarthmore. As indicated above, masking is no longer required when outside on campus for fully vaccinated people, but is required when inside in public spaces.  

Non-Instructional Staff in Academic Departments and Programs: 

Summer 2021 (defined as the week after commencement through the second week of August): department chairs can provide remote work flexibility to their staff during this transitional summer as they see fit, so as to allow staff to transition to campus work gradually. This will also allow those who have been working on campus to have a managed transition to a higher population density on campus. For example, staff could be invited to visit their office and become reacquainted with their space, followed by returning to work for a full day, followed by returning to work on campus multiple days per week. When discussing arrangements with staff, departmental managers should be mindful of any needed support from campus units (e.g. ITS, facilities, etc.) to ensure that staff have the proper office set-up needed to function during and after such a transition. 

Academic Year 21-22: Should it be compatible with the staff member’s job description, and if it is in the department’s interest, department chairs may permit staff members to work remotely for up to one day per week during the academic year. 

Next Steps: 

  • Chairs and their staff should begin discussing a plan for transitioning back to on campus. 
  • Chairs and their staff who elect to engage in remote work for up to one day per week will have read the College’s PolicyRemote and Hybrid Guidelines, and Safety Checklist
  • All individuals who will engage in remote work will need to complete the Remote Work Agreement, which will be signed by the department chair and the provost and submitted to the office of human resources. 

Expectations about College-Funded Travel: 

During the summer, domestic travel is approved. International travel is not approved during the summer, but exceptions will be considered in consultation with the International Travel Risk Committee. While individual travel budgets will be released to departments and individuals as conditions improve, we encourage faculty to proceed judiciously. 

Sense of Community

While vaccination has shown to be the single most important determinant of whether one contracts COVID-19 and its severity if contracted, the practices to mitigate against its spread – like masking, the avoidance of contact, and distancing – have become second nature to many of us. The spread of the virus continues to wane and the number of those vaccinated continues to rise in the U.S. Still, these next several months will test everyone and are probably best considered as a time of transition. This is a moment to remind ourselves of good workplace boundaries: We encourage you not to hesitate to ask others about greeting preferences or permission prior to entering a colleague’s office or work space. As we move back into former routines and establish new habits, our community’s culture of mutual respect and kindness will smooth the way.