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Swarthmore announced plans for an in-person semester for fall 2021. (Fritz Ward | CC 2.0)

Swarthmore College is planning for a primarily in-person residential learning experience during the fall 2021 semester.

In a message to the Swarthmore community on March 5, President Val Smith wrote that the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths across the country, as well as the increasing distribution of vaccines, make Swarthmore optimistic about an in-person semester. Swarthmore joins other local colleges and universities, such as Temple and Penn State, who have announced plans for an on-campus fall semester. Penn has yet to make an official decision.

Planning for fall 2021 has just begun, and the Swarthmore community will be informed of future developments, Smith wrote. The academic calendar will return to normal in the fall, and day-to-day operations will likely look different than before the pandemic.

Swarthmore may reverse course if COVID-19 cases surge, the vaccine supply does not meet demand by the end of the summer, or if new variants emerge that are resistant to the available vaccines, Smith wrote. 

The College does not know when it will receive a supply of vaccines that can be distributed to the campus community, Smith wrote. She remains hopeful that more doses will soon become available within the region.

Despite Pennsylvania’s recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Swarthmore does not anticipate changing campus safety policies during the spring semester.

Swarthmore invited first years and sophomores on campus for the fall 2020 semester and juniors and seniors for the spring 2021 semester, following a hybrid model of instruction. Students arrived on campus between Feb. 6 and 9, and in-person classes began on Feb. 22. COVID-19 cases have remained low, with 14 students testing positive in the fall and five in the spring.