In an email on July 6, 2020, President Jonathan Holloway communicated the plans Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, will put in place for the fall 2020 semester.
Dear Rutgers Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am writing today to inform you that after careful consideration of all possible models for safely and effectively delivering instruction during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Rutgers is planning for a Fall 2020 semester that will combine a majority of remotely delivered courses with a limited number of in-person classes. Each of the chancellors will be communicating later today with more detail about what this means for the students they serve.
This decision was not made easily or hastily. We have had extensive consultation with our public health experts, faculty, deans, provosts, and chancellors over the past several months. We have wanted very fervently to be able to resume some version of a normal semester. But given the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, the near-term outlook for the public health crisis in our state, and the uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, we had to make a different decision. Because of the ongoing requirements for social distancing and guided by our paramount priority of safeguarding the people of our university community, we determined that most courses this fall will have to rely on remote methods of instruction—delivered both in real-time and asynchronously.
I want our students to know that Rutgers faculty are busy preparing for remote undergraduate instruction and building on lessons learned from the spring semester. The university has made, and will continue to make, investments in instructional technology and training to further enhance the student experience. All classes that are taught remotely will meet the standards and expectations of the world-class institution that Rutgers is.
While the majority of our courses must be delivered remotely, a limited number of courses that benefit from direct access to campus facilities will happen in-person, with appropriate health-related precautions: some examples include select courses in the arts, laboratory or field work, and clinical instruction. Each chancellor has worked with his or her deans and faculty and will provide updates on specific courses that will use at least some in-person instruction.
Student Support and Campus Services
Our many essential student services, like academic, health, and wellness counseling, will continue to be available to all students. Increased capacity for remote service will be complemented, as public health allows, by in-person interactions. Our IT infrastructure, libraries, and other vital resources for our students’ success will all be available to everyone as well.
Because of the need for social distancing and since most courses will be delivered remotely, on-campus housing across Rutgers will be extremely limited.
Each chancellor will communicate how limited on-campus housing will be prioritized on their respective campuses. Our residential life teams are ready to answer questions for the many students who have already made deposits.
The suspension of campus events will remain in place this fall to ensure we do our part to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.
Decisions regarding the upcoming athletic season will continue to be guided by state requirements and policies developed by the campuses’ respective athletic conferences.
The chancellors will each distribute messages shortly that provide additional details for their respective communities and direct you to resources to answer your questions.
Please note that the university has not made any decisions regarding winter session or the spring semester. We will make those determinations later this year, informed by ongoing analysis of the public health crisis, guidelines from the state and federal governments, and monitoring of our own progress in navigating this unprecedented moment in Rutgers’ history.
Telecommuting and Campus Workspaces
I also want to say a word regarding faculty and staff. The university recently released “Returning to Rutgers,” a comprehensive guide to how buildings and workspaces must be prepared for any significant return to campus by our faculty and staff. If you have not read “Returning to Rutgers,” I encourage you to do so. In addition, University Human Resources recently extended the COVID-19 telecommuting policy through August 31. Please know that we will continue to work within state guidelines for work-related activities and the guidance of public health experts to coordinate the re-opening of our offices later this summer.
The decisions and protocols outlined here are important and necessary, but they are not easy. As your new president, I would like nothing more than to declare that it’s safe to resume the normal course of operations across all of Rutgers for every member of our community. I can assure you that we will do all we can to move toward that goal, knowing how vital our in-person interactions are to the vibrancy of a university. And in the meantime, we will strive to ensure the highest quality academic experience for all our students, who remain at the center of our mission.
President & University Professor