In an interview with The Clerk last spring, President Wendy Raymond said that life on campus during the 2021–2022 academic year “will look much like it looked in the 2019–2020 year—except that we’ll be wearing masks and except that we will all be vaccinated.”
Newly released policies affirm this statement completely. Classes and events will be held in person at full capacity. Indoor dining will see a return after a year of grab-n-go. The campus has already reopened to its neighbors, and in the fall, students will be able to travel freely into Philadelphia and beyond.
Last spring, the college announced it would be requiring all students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the coming year, with narrow medical and religious exceptions. In June, the vaccine mandate was expanded to include all faculty, staff, and contingent workers on campus. This requirement can be fulfilled by any vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization.
As of August 16, the college’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that 97.1% of staff and faculty are already vaccinated. Students are 96.1% vaccinated, and Raymond expects them to reach an equivalent rate to staff and faculty by the beginning of the semester.
Last year, the college operated under tiered COVID precautions which were elevated twice in response to student behavior. The campus is no longer operating under a tiered system but is instead open with universal masking indoors as well as an updated visitor policy specifying who can access the reopened campus, and how.
Under this policy, guests are individuals who are hosted by a Haverford student, faculty, or staff member and accompanied for the duration of their stay. Students are allowed to host one overnight guest if both the guest and the student are vaccinated. Vaccinated guests may also dine indoors.
All other individuals accessing Haverford’s campus, such as neighbors, prospective students, or unaccompanied students from other institutions, are considered visitors. Visitors aren’t subject to the vaccine requirement but aren’t allowed to access any indoor spaces except for the Whitehead Campus Center. All outdoor spaces, such as the Nature Trail, however, are fully open to visitors. Unvaccinated visitors must wear a mask outside when social distancing is not possible.
Students, faculty, and staff from Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and Penn fall into the category of guests when accessing academic or administrative buildings, but visitors when entering residence halls.
Indoor event spaces can again be used at their full capacity, as long as they adhere to indoor masking requirements. Events attended primarily by Haverford students, faculty, or staff may even serve food, with vaccinated individuals unmasking briefly to eat. But events for visitors, including move-in days and athletic competitions with spectators, require full masking indoors or outdoors when in crowds.
In effect as of August 13, the college’s updated masking policy specifies a few exceptions to the indoor masking mandate, including vaccinated students in their residence halls; small groups or individuals in a contained workspace; and, during certain supervised college events such as music practice. Outdoors, vaccinated students are not expected to mask, but should when in crowds.
Another notable exception to the indoor masking requirement is made for dining. Students and vaccinated employees may unmask for indoor dining in the Dining Center, Coop, Library Cafe, and other shared spaces. All individuals must wear a mask when being served, waiting in line, and after they finish eating. Vaccinated guests enjoy the same privilege, while visitors must get their food and eat outside.
One key element to campus life, athletics, will be returning for the coming semester.
Haverford will be participating in the Centennial Conference after a significant absence up through the end of last spring. The college is following the decisions made by the conference, which as of June includes full competitions in the fall. Athletes will follow the conference’s COVID-19 precautions, which include vaccination, testing, and masking requirements.
The Gardner Integrated Athletic Center (GIAC) will be open to all students, faculty, and staff and operating at its pre-COVID hours. Masks will be required, as with any other indoor space. Although exercise facilities will only be available for students, the rest of the GIAC will be open to any valid OneCard holders.
Visitors will be welcome for athletic events held on Haverford’s campus but will need to mask when indoors and in crowds. Athletic teams will be able to travel off-campus for in-season games against schools in the Centennial Conference.
Athletics aren’t the only way for students to get off campus this fall. The college’s updated travel policy allows vaccinated students and employees to travel and attend events within the United States, as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Unvaccinated students must get permission from their dean for anything beyond local errands.
College-related international travel by students, faculty, or staff must be permitted by the appropriate senior staff members and must fulfill an “important institutional purpose” to be approved. Students, faculty, and staff who travel internationally are expected to follow any CDC quarantine requirements specific to their destination.
Amidst rising COVID infections driven by the Delta variant, these new policies offer a more complete picture of what students can expect from the coming semester. Although the circumstances of the pandemic are still evolving, and much could change, one thing is clear: Fall 2021 will be, in many ways, a return to normalcy.