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COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

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

As you may have seen in various media reports, Pennsylvania is reporting its first two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including in Delaware County, where Swarthmore College is located. According to the Governor’s Office, that adult individual is “... currently in their home in isolation. The individual recently traveled to an area of the United States where COVID-19 is present.” 

There is no indication that this individual is associated with the College community. We continue to be in regular communication with local, state, and federal health officials to inform our approach to handling this situation. 

The College has been planning and operating under the assumption that COVID-19 would eventually reach our area. Our COVID-19 Planning Group continues to meet multiple times a week and is considering responses under a range of possible scenarios. While we recognize that COVID-19 could disrupt normal College operations at some point, no official guidance to date suggests that this development warrants any such changes. For instance, Swarthmore is hosting the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament tonight and tomorrow. At this point, those games will go on as scheduled. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.   

At the same time, we recognize and respect the fact that individuals will have to make their own decisions around certain situations, such as large group activities and personal travel. 

We understand that this is an unsettling time for many, including members of our community. We must continue to act judiciously, make sensible decisions, and not give in to fear or panic. The best care continues to be preventative: washing your hands thoroughly, coughing into your elbow, not touching your face, and wiping down surfaces. We also want to take this opportunity to remind members of the community that treating one another with care and sensitivity is paramount. We may not know which individuals among us are especially vulnerable or may spend time with those who are especially vulnerable. Therefore, we should respect one another’s decisions to forgo large group activities, even as we believe such functions can continue at this point. 

We have created a COVID-19 website that contains additional information on the College’s planning and response. We will continue to stay in contact with the campus community as the situation develops and, in particular, as we anticipate the return of students and others who will be traveling during spring break. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please contact

Thank you, 

Members of Swarthmore College’s COVID-19 Planning Group

Casey Anderson, Interim Director, Worth Health and Wellness Center
Greg Brown, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Mike Hill, Director, Public Safety
Andy Hirsch, Vice President for Communications
Sharmaine LaMar, General Counsel
Paula MacDonald, Associate Director, Organizational Development and Workplace Relations
Patricia Martin, Director of Off-Campus Study
Ed Rowe, Chief of Staff and Secretary of the College
Valerie Smith, President
Jim Terhune, Vice President and Dean of Students
Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Provost and Dean of the Faculty