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Swarthmore College Update on COVID-19

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Parents, and Families, 

I am writing with the College’s latest update on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to outline some of the most recent developments and information about the ways in which Swarthmore continues to respond to the situation. While there are no suspected cases of COVID-19 at Swarthmore, we continue our efforts to anticipate and plan for any potential impacts on College operations. 

I want to begin by thanking the numerous individuals who have been working to address issues related to COVID-19 since we first learned of the disease, in particular the staff in our Off-Campus Study Office and the Dean of Students Division. Since January, we’ve been in regular communication with our students studying abroad, as well as their families and the various sponsor programs with which we work, and we will continue to offer the support our students need to navigate this evolving situation.

With spring break approaching, it is important to note that Swarthmore prohibits College-sponsored travel to areas that are under either a Level 4 travel advisory (Do Not Travel) from the U.S. Department of State, or a Level 3 travel warning (Avoid Nonessential Travel) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Countries currently under such designation due to COVID-19 include China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea. Please refer to the links above for the latest information on travel advisories, as they could change with little to no advanced warning.

Students who wish to stay on campus during spring break may do so; the residence halls will remain open. Click here for more specific information regarding College operations during the upcoming spring break. 

We will continue to follow the U.S. government’s guidance on issues related to travel. However, out of an abundance of caution, we encourage each of you to be judicious in making any upcoming travel arrangements.

In that same spirit — in the interest of the safety and well-being of our campus community — we are requiring all students, faculty, and staff to register any College-sponsored travel, both domestic and international, by providing us with your date(s) of travel and destination(s). This applies to all College-sponsored travel during the month of March. We may extend that timeframe as the situation develops. You can register your travel plans by clicking here. In addition, we strongly encourage you to also register all personal travel during the month of March using this same site. This is not meant to be intrusive. Best practices are still emerging, and we believe having this information could prove useful in the event that the College or local officials need to investigate a local outbreak or assist individuals who may find themselves impacted by this rapidly evolving situation. 

If your position at the College requires you to travel and you have reservations about doing so amid concerns around COVID-19, please talk with your supervisor to see if alternative arrangements can be made.

We have created this website to provide updates on COVID-19 to the campus community. We will continue to add relevant information to the site as it becomes available. We will also continue to provide updates by other means, such as email, as necessary. If you have any questions about COVID-19 as it relates to the College, please email them to

We can all take certain actions to protect ourselves and one another. Below are some CDC recommendations about handwashing and other ways of reducing the spread of germs. Though we’ve shared some of these tips in the past, they are worth repeating again here:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Do not share anything that comes in contact with the mouth — water bottles, towels, drinking glasses, utensils, cosmetics, lip balm, toothbrushes, or smoking materials

Importantly, if you have cold or flu-like symptoms, please stay home. Students who feel ill and need to miss class should communicate with their professors. In addition, students who are sick should contact the Worth Health and Wellness Center at 610-328-8058 during regular business hours or the on-call nurse at 610-328-8548 during off-hours. Likewise, we encourage members of the faculty and staff who are feeling ill to contact their health care provider.

I have convened a small group of individuals to meet several times per week in order to focus on the College’s ongoing planning and response to COVID-19, and they will work with others across campus as needed. This situation will continue to evolve in the days, weeks, and months ahead. I understand that it is causing a heightened level of anxiety for many of us; please know that Swarthmore is committed to sustaining the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. 


Valerie Smith