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Update on the Spring Semester from President Valerie Smith

Dear Students,

I hope that you are well and that you are finding ways to take care of yourselves during this deeply troubling time. I won’t address here some of the recent events that have caused many of us so much distress, but I’ll echo what I wrote to you last week: I’ve never felt more confident about the College’s mission and the collective role we play in shaping a better future.

I write today with information on the start of the spring semester. We continue to closely monitor the pandemic, both here at Swarthmore and in the surrounding region, as well as around the country and globe. While the number of cases has increased dramatically, we continue to consult with a number of medical and infectious disease experts. Based on their guidance, our plan remains to bring residential students (primarily juniors and seniors) back to campus on a staggered schedule between Saturday, Feb. 6, and Tuesday, Feb. 9, with the semester beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 10. All classes will be remote at the start of the semester; faculty who choose to hold in-person classes can do so beginning on Monday, Feb. 22.  

If you are planning to live on campus this spring, you will receive more detailed information about move-in procedures, testing protocols, and other information related to the start of the semester prior to your arrival. We are also working to finalize updates to the Garnet Pledge, which all students will be required to sign before the semester begins. 

I invite you, as well as your parents and families, to participate in an online information session on the upcoming semester on Tuesday, Jan. 19, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET. I will be joined by several members of my senior staff, as well as by Dr. Peter Axelrod, the infectious disease expert with whom we’ve partnered to help inform our decision-making related to COVID-19. To join the event, you must first fill out this registration form. I invite you to submit questions in advance; you can also ask questions using the chat feature during the session.

Thank you in advance for the patience, adaptability, and flexibility that will be required this semester. Our plans may need to change with little notice; we will keep you apprised of any developments and share new information as quickly as possible. Though we cannot say for certain what the next few months will look like, I can commit to you that all of the decisions we make and actions we take will be in the best interest of the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding community. 


Val Smith