The fall semester at Rutgers University will combine a majority of remotely delivered courses with a limited number of in-person classes, President Jonathan Holloway said today.
The decision was not made easily or hastily, Holloway said but was made due to the uncertainty regarding the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in cases in other areas of the country and in consultation with public health experts and university leaders.
“We have wanted very fervently to be able to resume some version of a normal semester,” Holloway said in a message to the Rutgers community. However, “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.”
The president said chancellors at Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, Rutgers-New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences will provide details about how the decision will affect students on their campuses.
“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,” Holloway said, noting the university will continue to make investments in instructional technology and training. “All classes that are taught remotely will meet the standards and expectations of the world-class institution that Rutgers is.”
A limited number of courses in disciplines that benefit greatly from access to campus facilities – such as select courses in the arts, laboratory or field work, and clinical instruction – will happen on campus with appropriate health-related precautions, Holloway said.
The president provided the following updates on housing, student support and campus services, campus events and athletics.
On-campus housing across Rutgers will be extremely limited because of the need for social distancing and since most courses will be delivered remotely. Each chancellor will communicate how limited on-campus housing will be prioritized on each campus.
Essential student services, including academic, health and wellness counseling, will continue to be available to students remotely and complemented by in-person interactions as public health guidelines allow. Information technology infrastructure, libraries and other vital resources for students also will be available.
Decisions regarding the upcoming athletic season will continue to be guided by state requirements and policies developed by the campuses’ respective athletic conferences.
The suspension of campus events will remain in place this fall to limit opportunities for the virus to spread.
No decision has been made for the winter session and spring semester.
Holloway also urged faculty and staff to read Returning to Rutgers, a comprehensive plan released last month for safely preparing offices and workspaces for a return. He said that the university is continuing to work within state guidelines and with public health experts to reopen offices later this summer.
Acknowledging the decisions and steps he outlined are necessary but not easy, Holloway said university officials will continue to work toward a time when it is safe to resume normal operations across all of Rutgers.
“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,” Holloway said. “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.”