Guiding Principles of our Fall 2021 Re-Opening Plan

Howard University continues to monitor the (COVID-19) pandemic and has implemented the necessary actions to help maintain a safe and healthy environment, while sustaining services required to deliver an exceptional education to our students and conduct critical research in the safest manner possible.

The University’s Fall 2021 re-opening plan is the product of broad discussions held among the Fall Preparation Committee, as well as 13 Fall 2021 Preparation sub-committees, with representation from numerous students, faculty, staff, local community leaders, and in accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the local and federal governments. Further, the University surveyed students, faculty and staff to glean their opinions on various aspects  of the University’s operations for the fall. Our community’s collective voices are represented in the University’s plan.

The re-opening plan was framed around the following tenets:

  • Howard University will make decisions guided primarily by considerations for the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and surrounding community.
  • Decisions about health and safety made by the University in the context of COVID-19 will be evidence-based and data-driven where data is available. 
  • Howard University will continue to deliver an exceptional education and optimal services, within the unavoidable constraints of the COVID-19 response.
  • Howard University will be transparent when communicating to our entire University body and our community.

Following the successful summer pilot of seven courses, the University will continue implementation of a transition back to face-to-face courses for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. While the majority of courses will be provided face-to-face, a number of courses will be available online. However, we cannot guarantee that every course that a student may desire will be provided online.

In May, President Frederick announced that any student who would physically be on the Howard University campus for the Fall 2021 semester would be required to be fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine by August 1, 2021. Following extensive deliberation and feedback from faculty, staff, students and parents, we have extended this requirement to include faculty and staff who will be on campus during the Fall semester.

Faculty and staff who will be on campus this Fall must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) by September 3, 2021. The second dose of a two-dose regimen must be completed by October 1, 2021. New hires are already required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their start date. Masks are still required indoors and outdoors while on campus regardless of vaccination status. Medical and religious exemptions will be granted in accordance with federal and local law; details regarding the exemptions can be downloaded or requested via the Office of Human Resources. For additional details regarding the implementation of the mandate and how to provide vaccination documentation, please visit the University’s COVID-19 response site: Bisonsafe.howard.edu.

The Office of the Dean will receive updates regarding which students are cleared to be on campus, and registered in courses. This information will be shared with the administrative leaders. Faculty and students with approved medical and religious exemptions are permitted in classroom settings, and must adhere to all public health protocols. Additionally, greater functionality is being incorporated into the BisonSafe app to account for vaccine status. Individuals who have not been vaccinated, or have an approved exemption, will not have a visual clearance indicator from the app to be on campus.

We have checked, and will continue to check, vaccination card submissions when there has been suspicion of the legitimacy of a submission. This has only been rarely necessary, and would include contacting the site where vaccinations were administered to confirm the record. Any fraudulent submission is subject to disciplinary action.

The University will provide personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of masks or face coverings and sanitizing agents to all faculty, staff and students, and on an ongoing basis at various stations campus-wide.

This Fall preparation document and the BisonSafe website contain valuable information that is relevant to the various campus stakeholders and should be used as a guide when traversing the campus and conducting business and academic operations. 

This Fall, 2021 plan is intended to be dynamic. We will continue to update and revise the plan, in accordance with changes in guidance from the CDC and District of Columbia, and the latest available health data.