Covid-19 shuttered schools across the country in March, and colleges and universities are preparing for the fall semester as positive case numbers fall and states begin to slowly reopen.
Greater Philadelphia has a large concentration of colleges and universities, all of which canceled in-person classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving many students and parents questioning what the future holds for higher education. Local schools had to shell out millions of dollars in refunds for campus housing after they closed in March and several local colleges have already reported decreased enrollment for the fall semester, leaving them financially vulnerable.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has moved all counties to some phase of reopening as of Friday, but Philadelphia and surrounding counties remain more restricted than other parts of the state. Gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited under the current yellow reopening phase. New Jersey and Delaware have also begun to reopen, allowing for more businesses to operate in-person. Detailed plans have not been announced for returning to schools, however.
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Here are the reopening plans for some of the largest colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area as of June 5:
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania unveiled four different reopening strategies for the fall semester. This includes a hybrid remote and in-person teaching method, having virtual classes after Thanksgiving break while having weekend and evening classes, introducing summer courses in 2021 or having a fully virtual fall semester. Without an available Covid-19 vaccine, Penn officials said learning on campus will change.
In adherence to social distancing and other health and safety guidelines, face masks will be required and there would be no large gatherings. Dormitories would house fewer students and dining halls would implement more grab-and-go meals or scheduled eating.
Temple University, home to more than 40,000 students, expects classes to begin on schedule in late August and for classes to be held in person and online. Students would not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. The university has already started to let some people return to campus in phases, and students taking summer session courses that must be completed in person will be allowed to come to campus later this month.
Community College of Philadelphia
The Community College of Philadelphia will go all virtual for the fall semester, citing uncertainty over the future of the pandemic. Some classes with labs or clinical instruction could be offered later in the semester.
La Salle University
La Salle University will begin the fall semester with a combination of virtual and in-person instruction on Aug. 17 and conclude before Thanksgiving as long as state regulations permit the university to do so. On-campus housing and dining will be allowed, and the university is preparing for the possibility of all-virtual classes.
Drexel will tackle a "hybrid approach to learning" through in-person and online classes. The academic year will start on Sept. 21 and end Dec. 14, with online learning taking over for in-person classes after Thanksgiving break. Students in the College of Medicine, the Kline School of Law and students with clinical rotations will return to campus in August.
University of the Arts
Philadelphia’s University of the Arts plans to have on-campus, in-person classes for the fall semester, but detailed plans have not been announced.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
West Chester University officials say they are still formulating a plan to reopen for the fall semester and anticipate to have a plan in July.
St. Joseph’s University
St. Joseph’s has yet to announce plans for the fall semester.
Villanova has yet to announce plans for the fall semester. All summer classes were moved online.
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