Dear Rutgers University – Newark community members,
I write to follow up on President Holloway’s message from earlier today and to give some more details specific to Rutgers-Newark, as the path to and through Fall 2020 is becoming considerably clearer. In close coordination with deans, faculty, and staff members, colleagues across Rutgers and academic, advising, administrative, and student affairs offices, as well as having gathered feedback from undergraduate and graduate students, we have compiled a working plan for Rutgers-Newark that describes what we envision the fall semester looking like for us.
Our working plan reflects acute awareness that Rutgers-Newark is an exceptionally mobile university community with an overwhelming majority of people who commute to and from our campus from widely varied locations and local circumstances, including nearly 90% of our students. We know that students, faculty, and staff will continue to face a wide range of personal and localized challenges for months to come. Cognizant of that and consonant with the detailed Rutgers-wide plan, “Returning to Rutgers: A How-To Guide To Repopulating Rutgers Spaces,” and the guidelines of the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, our plan prioritizes the health and safety of our campus and community members.
I strongly encourage all members of our community to review these reports. They articulate parameters that have informed our own planning thus far and reflect our ongoing partnership with colleagues across Rutgers as we continue to develop context-sensitive plans that require further consideration. Among those critically important areas are: student, faculty, and staff training; self-monitoring and health protocols; preparing workspaces and classrooms with equipment and signage to meet hygienic and social distancing guidelines; calibrating transportation plans with anticipated levels of students, faculty and staff expected on campus; and developing individualized management plans for all administrative offices to assure the health and safety of all community members while assuring that services will continue to be provided without interruption through tele-commuting and staggered in-person staffing, as needed. Of course, all plans must remain contingent on continued progress being made across our community and our state in mitigating the effects of COVID-19.
I urge you to read our working plan for the greatest level of detail we can offer at this moment regarding instruction, research, and student life. To enable us to provide the most robust learning and working environments possible under still-evolving conditions, continued patience is needed from all as we account for the impact on specific degree programs and courses, as well as specific staff plans. Below, I provide an executive summary of key sections of that document to provide a sense of our overall direction and the expected modes and scales of our community’s interactions and operations.
We are organizing virtual town hall meetings starting the week of July 13th for new and returning undergraduate and graduate students, and for the faculty and staff councils. We will share more information about these very soon.
Deep thanks go to all of the faculty, staff, students, and academic and administrative leaders who have provided such thoughtful and insightful input to our plans thus far, and whose wisdom we will continue to draw upon as we move forward together.