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July 06, 2020

Rutgers University to hold majority of fall 2020 classes online

On-campus housing for students will be 'extremely limited,' school president Jonathan Holloway says

Education COVID-19
Rutgers Fall 2020 semester Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

To prepare for a semester that will take place mostly remotely at each of its campuses, Rutgers is increasing the remote capacities of essential services – like as academic, health, and wellness counseling.

Rutgers University will hold the most of classes for the upcoming fall semester virtually with a limited number of in-person classes, university president Jonathan Holloway said Monday. 

In a letter written to Rutgers students, faculty, and staff, Holloway said the college is preparing for online instruction this fall by making more investments in technology and training to enhance students' remote educational experiences. 

The university also is increasing the remote capacities of essential services – such as academic, health, and wellness counseling – to be made available to all students. That includes the school's libraries and IT infrastructure. 

There will be a limited number of classes with direct, in-person access, so long as they adhere to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Such courses include arts, laboratory or field work, and clinical instruction.

On-campus housing for undergraduate students will be "extremely limited," and the chancellors of Rutgers' campuses in New Brunswick, Camden and Newark will be responsible for communicating which students will have priority for those spots.

Holloway, who became Rutgers' president last Wednesday, wrote that the school came to the decision to focus on remote learning this upcoming fall "after careful consideration of all possible models for safely and effectively delivering instruction during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic."

The decision wasn't made "easily or hastily," Halloway said, and there were discussions with public health experts, faculty, deans, provosts, and chancellors during the past several months.

The university wanted to have as normal of a fall semester as possible, but the continued rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and the state of the public health crisis in New Jersey forced the school to change course, Holloway said.

He assured Rutgers students that all online classes will meet the university's educational standards.

"The decisions and protocols outlined here are important and necessary, but they are not easy," Halloway wrote. "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."

All campus events remain suspended for the fall semester, but no decisions have been made yet about the fall sports season, Holloway said. Rutgers will follow the guidances from athletic conferences and New Jersey officials.

Decisions on classes and housing for the spring semester will be made later this year after analyzing how the fall semester goes and the state of the COVID-19 pandemic at that time, as well as guidelines from state and federal governments, Holloway wrote.

Colleges and universities across New Jersey were ordered to shut down in-person classes and activity on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has said that institutions of higher education can resume on-campus operations through a three-step process.

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