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Planning for the Spring Semester

Bell tower in background with blue skies. Green leaves in foreground

Dear Students, Families, Faculty, and Staff Members,

Thank you for all of your efforts in helping to create a safe environment for our campus community. To date, we have conducted more than 5,500 COVID-19 tests, and the number of positive cases on campus remains extremely low. Whether you’re here on campus or studying or working remotely, you have contributed to our success so far. And while we know the situation can change quickly with little warning, and we must resist any slide toward complacency, I am proud of our efforts to help keep our community healthy.

Planning for Spring 2021

When I announced in June that we would begin the academic year by inviting first-year and sophomore students back to campus, I wrote that the course of the virus would dictate our ability to meet our aspiration of returning to full residential enrollment in the spring. Unfortunately, at this point the virus continues to disrupt our lives and remains unpredictable, as evidenced by the troubling spikes we are again seeing in the number of cases across the country and here in the Philadelphia area. After much discussion and in consultation with public health experts regarding the safe capacity of our campus facilities, we are planning to invite juniors and seniors to live on campus for the spring semester — with similar safety protocols in place as we have had this fall for first-year students and sophomores. Let me reiterate that no student is required to return to campus. 

Student Affairs will soon invite juniors and seniors to indicate their plans for the spring semester. We will also provide detailed information about the move-in process, housing selection, and course registration well in advance of the start of the spring semester.

Housing Exceptions

Just as before, students whose ability to learn remotely is severely challenged by various personal circumstances may apply to return to campus this spring. Student Affairs will also share information soon about the application process for students who need housing during some or all of the period from Nov. 22 to Feb. 11, as well as for first-year and sophomore students who wish to seek an exception for housing based on personal circumstances.

As has been the case this fall, we expect that the majority of spring semester classes will be taught remotely, even for those students who are on campus. Faculty members will determine whether to offer in-person components of their classes.   

Virtual Information Sessions

We will host another round of virtual information sessions for students and families, as well as for faculty and staff members, to answer your questions. Registration is required, and video recordings will be made available afterward. 

Students and families can register for the session on Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Please submit questions for the Oct. 20 session in advance; you can also ask questions using the chat feature during the session.

Staff and faculty members can register for the session on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Please submit questions for the Oct. 28 session in advance; you can also ask questions using the chat feature during the session.

Continuing to Monitor the Situation

Like all of our COVID-19 plans and protocols, this decision was based on the most current information about the virus and was made in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff members. We will continue to monitor the situation and reevaluate our approach as necessary. 

While it is less than ideal, I believe our experience this fall proves that our collective efforts to minimize the impact of COVID-19 can be effective, and we can continue to deliver a meaningful, enriching educational experience to all of our students, regardless of whether they are studying remotely or living on campus. 

Again, thank you for all that you’ve done for each other, and for the greater Swarthmore community. 


Val Smith