Although Penn has not yet made a decision about whether the fall 2021 semester will take place in person, several schools in Pennsylvania have already announced their plans to hold classes in-person this fall and return to normal campus life.
The schools said that their decisions are the result of changing pandemic conditions, such as the increasing availability of vaccines, declining COVID-19 cases across the country, and the easing of restrictions in Pennsylvania.
President Val Smith announced on March 5 that Swarthmore is preparing to bring students to campus in the fall for in-person classes as case numbers fall and the availability of vaccines increases. The school is planning to return to a normal academic calendar, while also adjusting day-to-day operations as a result of the effects of the pandemic.
President Smith warned in her statement that the plans would be subject to change if case numbers increased or vaccination rates fell towards the end of the summer.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State is expecting to have a completely on-campus semester in the fall. In a message released on Feb. 24, President Eric Barron explained that the University would start bringing students back to campus in phases over the summer.
In the summer semester, the school will maximize the number of in-person classes offered, while continuing to follow public health guidelines, through non-traditional learning spaces, such as outdoor and event spaces.
The University stated that they will be monitoring public health guidelines closely and are prepared to make changes to their plans if that becomes necessary. Right now, the school is hopeful that the growing availability of vaccines will allow them to have a safe in-person fall semester.
President Richard M. Englert announced on March 1 that Temple is preparing for an in-person fall semester. In addition to holding in-person classes, Temple is planning on opening residence halls, dining halls, athletic facilities, and academic buildings in the fall.
Englert stated that Temple is working with the city of Philadelphia on plans for vaccine distribution at Temple and in the surrounding community. He also acknowledged that the current trends of the virus could change and said that Temple would adapt their plans if necessary.
In an announcement on Feb. 22, Provost Nathan Urban and Vice President for Finance and Administration Patricia Johnson stated that they are planning to hold the majority of classes and campus events in person. The school is also planning to have a residential system that closely resembles what was in place pre-pandemic
Lehigh is encouraging their community members to get the vaccine and considering making it a requirement for students. They are expecting to be able to allow guests on campus and to start in-person tours for prospective students again in the fall.