Welcoming you to campus this spring

November 2, 2020

Dear Undergraduates:

You have adapted brilliantly to the challenges of the remote fall semester, both academically and through the ingenuity you have shown in making connections with each other outside the virtual classroom. Yet we know that you long—as do we—to be back together in Baltimore. Based on the preparations we have made to operate during the COVID pandemic and on our experience this fall as well as that of our peers, and supported by a widening of our testing program and requirements, we are optimistic that we can return safely, provided we all continue to work together.

We are watching the concerning developments in the COVID pandemic in some parts of the country and the world, and as President Daniels, Provost Kumar, and Senior Vice President Miller noted in their message earlier today, we will have to make a final determination in January, if not sooner, about whether we can move forward with our plans based on the health conditions at that time. But we are hopeful because of the care many of you have taken to limit the spread of COVID in our community. Throughout this semester, we have had a small group of students living in the residence halls and approximately 2,000 undergraduates living off campus in Baltimore, and we are proud of their diligent efforts to keep our community safe. We have seen fewer than 40 known cases of COVID among JHU students (undergraduates and graduates) since the beginning of the semester. Those of you in Baltimore have clearly taken seriously the JHNeedsU guidance and practiced COVID safety measures, such as face covering, physical distancing, limits on gatherings, hand washing, and symptom monitoring. 

As we welcome more students back to Baltimore, your efforts will become all the more crucial. That is why we will work with all members of the community—students, faculty, and staff—to create a universitywide social compact modeled on the one our Student Advisory Committee drafted last summer. Our ability to stay together in-person throughout the spring semester depends on us all to do our part.

That includes participation in Johns Hopkins’ expanded COVID testing program. Undergraduate students who are in Baltimore, whether they are living on campus or off, will be required to take twice-weekly COVID tests. Free testing will also be available for all faculty, staff, and graduate students, and required weekly for many. Rigorous adherence to this testing schedule and cooperation with contact tracing are crucial to our ability to make sure the spread of COVID in our community is as limited as possible.

The campus experience during spring semester will be modified in a variety of ways in response to the pandemic, and some of the details remain to be determined. 

We will issue a comprehensive Return to Campus guide in early December, but here is what we can share now:

Academic Schedule – Key Dates

Housing application process: Nov. 3, 10 a.m. to Nov. 10, 10 a.m. EST

Class registration:

  • Nov. 13 for seniors
  • Nov. 16 for juniors
  • Nov. 18 for sophomores
  • Nov. 20 for first-years

Spring semester bills:

  • Issued Dec. 10
  • Due Jan. 21

Financial aid: Credited to students’ accounts Jan. 19

Intersession: Jan. 4-15. (Shortened by one week to allow for an extended move-in period.)

First day of classes: Jan. 25.

Spring Break: To reduce the COVID risks posed by travel, Spring Break will be replaced by individual days off distributed throughout the semester:

  • March 22
  • March 30
  • April 14
  • April 22
  • April 30

Reading period: May 3-4

Exam period: May 5-13

University Commencement: May 27 

Please note, plans for Commencement will be shared by that office in the coming weeks.


  • Some classes will be offered in person. They will take place in classrooms that allow for sufficient physical distancing, with enhanced air circulation and cleaning protocols.
  • Some classes will remain virtual/remote, and others will have a hybrid modality. 
  • Some students who return to living on campus may continue to have some or all classes conducted virtually.  
  • To the greatest extent possible, all courses will have a remote option, and no student will be required to return to campus or take in-person classes to make academic progress.

COVID Testing

  • Those who are experiencing COVID symptoms or who may have been exposed to someone with the COVID virus should call the Johns Hopkins COVID Call Center (443-287-8500).
  • Optional free testing will be available on a weekly basis for all asymptomatic affiliates who are on campus.  
  • Testing will be required twice weekly for all undergraduates living on or off campus in the Baltimore area. 
  • Testing will be required at least once weekly for faculty, staff, and graduate students who are participating in or directly supporting in-person, on-campus classes (with exceptions for clinically based instruction) or who are regularly exposed to undergraduates.
  • The divisions may also designate for required testing any faculty, staff, or graduate students who are deemed to have a heightened risk of exposure. 
  • Testing will be available and/or required for faculty, staff, and students who are asked to quarantine because of exposure on campus, or who were working or learning in the same enclosed space (e.g., classroom or lab) at the same time as someone who tests positive.
  • Testing will be available and/or required for our contract workers, vendors, and necessary visitors.
  • More information and detailed guidelines for testing will be available in December, including test collection locations on all campuses and instructions for how to make testing appointments and receive test results.  

Other Health Safety Measures

  • Influenza vaccinations will be required for all affiliates who will be on campus, starting Nov. 20.
  • Existing COVID safety protocols remain in effect, including mandatory face covering on campus (indoors and outdoors) and in any JHU facilities, physical distancing, and limits on gatherings.
  • Students, faculty, and staff who are on campus will be required to make daily attestations about their health and any possible COVID symptoms through the ProDensity app.
  • Nonessential travel outside the Greater Baltimore area is strongly discouraged for undergraduates at any time. Essential or emergency travel should be registered with Student Affairs so students can receive support for appropriate self-quarantine and testing upon return to Baltimore/campus. Depending on the circumstances of travel, additional testing and quarantine may be required.

Housing and Dining

  • First-year students who choose to come to Baltimore will be housed in de-densified residence halls, with single bedrooms and limited sharing of bathrooms.
  • Given the results of our housing survey, we are hopeful that we will be able to offer space in the residence halls for all sophomores who indicated that they want to live in JHU-secured housing, but they will also have the option to live off campus if they choose. 
  • Juniors and seniors will live off campus as usual. 
  • We will provide space for isolation and quarantine for students who live on campus and isolation accommodations for undergraduates living off campus if our health and wellness team determines such accomodations are needed. 
  • Dining plans will be available and required for residential students. We will make a determination about whether dining offerings will be limited to grab-and-go meals or whether physically distant sit-down dining will be available based on the public health conditions at the time, as well as state and local regulations.
  • More details on housing and dining are available on the Coronavirus Information website.

Activities, Athletics, and Campus Facilities

  • No decisions have yet been made about sports competition during the spring semester. Conversations at the conference level are ongoing, and we expect to share more information in December.
  • In-person student activities remain restricted by campus guidelines governing physical distancing and limits on gathering size (currently 10 people). We will update you if these restrictions change.
  • The O’Connor Recreation Center, Brody Learning Commons, and Milton S. Eisenhower Library will be open with restricted density and limited hours.

Research and Work Opportunities

  • On-campus research opportunities will be available to undergraduates.
  • Some on-campus employment opportunities will be available, though students are encouraged to work remotely if possible.

Tuition and Financial Aid

  • Undergraduate tuition for the spring semester will be at the standard full-time rate of $28,505, and this amount is already reflected in financial aid awards.
  • Students who receive need-based aid and whose living situations change as a result of the return to campus will receive updated aid packages in November.
  • The university will continue to assist students whose family circumstances have changed as a result of the pandemic. If you need assistance with financial aid, contact the financial aid office.
  • As has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, funds to cover unanticipated COVID-related expenses are available for students in need. Students can request assistance at any time.

The latest information about these and other elements of our spring plans is available at our Coronavirus Information website.

Your safety and that of all members of our campus community and of our Baltimore neighbors remain our topmost consideration as we prepare for the spring semester. We recognize that the pandemic’s course may evolve. As it does, we will continue to consult with Johns Hopkins’ experts in public health and medicine to ensure that our plans meet the challenges posed by COVID and to monitor a variety of public health metrics and modeling of the pandemic’s trajectory over the course of the next few months. In January, if not sooner, we will make a final determination about whether we can safely carry out our plans. We have the utmost belief in your dedication to do what’s necessary to allow us to do so, but if conditions worsen so much locally or nationally that we cannot, we will change course.

These last several months have been an incredibly stressful time for all of us, but your commitment to your pursuit of knowledge and to each other is a constant reminder of what is so special about the Johns Hopkins community. Stay safe, be well, and we hope to see you in the spring.


Alanna Shanahan
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Stephen Gange
Professor and Executive Vice Provost for Academic Affairs