Presidents of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Announce Plan for Fall Semester

June 8, 2020

The message below was sent to students, faculty, and staff on June 8, 2020.

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff of Bryn Mawr and Haverford,

Given the close academic and co-curricular collaboration of our two colleges, Bryn Mawr and Haverford are committed to planning together for the coming academic year to ensure an excellent liberal arts education while maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all. We write today to share our joint decisions about the academic calendar for the fall semester. To support community members’ planning, additional details will follow in the coming weeks about the fall and the rest of the academic year as we make progress in our various planning processes.

The planning process has been led by several groups at each college and by a Bi-College Continuity Planning Group, all of which have explored many options and considered ideas, concerns, and questions offered by faculty, students, and staff. We have consulted infectious disease specialists and medical system leaders from Johns Hopkins University, the Mayo Clinic, the University of Pennsylvania, and Jefferson Health Systems to ensure that we have the most current evidence-based thinking on operating safely. We will continue to consult to ensure we are following best practices. Each college has also created campus operations teams to assess everything from airflow in classrooms to food service to dorm density and cleaning, guided by the standards set for colleges and universities by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Based on this research, discussion, and consultation, Bryn Mawr and Haverford will resume in-person instruction for the fall semester, barring any upsurge of COVID-19 infection or government limitation. The fall academic calendar will:

  • start on Tuesday, September 8, 2020
  • follow a regular semester system
  • be based on in-person classes, for those who elect to return to campus, through Friday, November 20
  • not have a fall break, but the Thanksgiving break will be extended to include the full week of Thanksgiving and run from Saturday, November 21 - Sunday, November 29;
  • hold the final 10 days of classes (Nov. 30 - Dec. 11) remotely, as well as the exam period concluding on Dec. 18;
  • offer classes across an expanded weekly schedule (e.g., some evening and weekend classes).

We have made the decision to eliminate fall break and complete the last two weeks remotely to minimize travel back and forth from campus. Students will be expected to leave for Thanksgiving break on or around Friday, November 20 and will not be able to return until second semester. Those students who cannot return home at the Thanksgiving break will be able to remain on campus, with the Dean’s permission.

Students should not make travel plans at present, as we expect to stagger arrivals to avoid large numbers of students and families moving in simultaneously. Look for additional information in the coming weeks.

We are aware that some students and some faculty and staff with underlying health conditions will not be able to return to campus in the fall. We are currently working with faculty members at both colleges to determine options for remote learning and teaching for those who require this accommodation. Students who choose not to return to campus will have the opportunity to take classes remotely, although not all courses will be offered in remote format.

Given that we will need to spread classes across a longer day to reduce density in buildings, and that changes in instructional modality will prompt some adjustment to the array of courses available to students this year, we expect that students will need to re-register for courses.

The calendar for the spring 2021 semester has not yet been set so that we can continue to learn and adapt to evolving circumstances.

Health and safety will continue to be our primary concern. In the words of one of the medical experts we consulted, universal mask wearing will be our “vaccine,” supported by social distancing, handwashing, symptom checking, and contact journaling. Adopting these practices will be required of all community members and guests to our campuses. We believe these changes in behavior are possible because of the deep value all of us place on community, and our shared understanding of our responsibility to one another and the wider world.

We will provide updates in the coming weeks that provide more information about courses, scheduling, pre-semester orientation activities, co-curricular activities, athletics, and safety measures.

We are excited to be able to tell you about our joint academic calendar and to relieve any question about whether we will return to campus in the Fall. We look forward to welcoming you back to Bryn Mawr and Haverford at the end of the summer.


Kim Cassidy
Bryn Mawr College

Wendy Raymond
Haverford College

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