Spring 2021 Plans

 

Dear Rutgers University – Newark community members,

With half of the Fall 2020 semester behind us in this new, uncharted educational landscape, planning for Spring 2021 has been proceeding rapidly, as our leadership team has been collaborating intensively with deans, academic advisors, student affairs professionals, our facilities and public safety staffs, community partners, and colleagues across Rutgers. As President Holloway described recently, we aspire to increase the presence of students, faculty, and staff on campus responsibly, continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our community. That entails calibrating plans that can flex to accommodate the ever-evolving circumstances of the pandemic and the possibility that we would need to pivot quickly to adapt our logistics as January nears.

In the absence of an effective and widely available vaccine and with ongoing concerns about the possibility of a rapid resurgence of COVID-19, a primary driver of our plans must remain identifying activities and services that will benefit most from being offered in person and can be done safely, while most of our work remains predominantly in remote mode. This foundational principle has informed our development of a Working Plan for Spring 2021. 

In the summary of several pages below, we have taken care to provide as much information as possible, representing our best projections at this time as to how we will operate in several major areas.

 

Academic Plan

Our experience during the pandemic thus far has demonstrated that while remote instruction has presented challenges such as assuring universal access to technology and adaptability of curricula to remote teaching and learning, faculty, staff, and students have been implementing and refining workable solutions—from our Student Technology LaunchPad’s support systems including a loaner program to expansive professional development opportunities for faculty offered through our P3 Collaboratory and the Rutgers Teaching and Learning with Technology unit. In light of these supports, we are confident that instruction for Spring 2021 can remain largely in remote mode, but we are working in close partnership with the deans, and they with their faculties and staffs, to identify courses that can best be conducted safely in person. Mindful that registration for Spring 2021 is scheduled to begin on November 30th, we will publish a schedule of course-by-course instructional plans by November 9th.  Public health guidance at this time constrains significantly the locations and timing available for offering instruction in person, so that we may account for full social distancing and sanitizing of classrooms between each session. With all of this taken into account, we are planning to conduct in-person or a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction in upwards of 10% of our courses; this is many times more than the present fall semester. Priority would be given to those courses that could most benefit from in-person interaction and are held in small class sizes, enabling us to maintain appropriate social distancing in our classrooms. All schools will be offering some in-person instruction, with the Law School and Rutgers Business School graduate programs on the higher end of the scale. The balance of classes would be offered remotely. But even for the limited in-person interaction that we are planning, we are aware that some students may be unable to come to campus. For such students, faculty will provide remote learning opportunities so that the academic progress of students continues. The RU-N Student Technology LaunchPad, which has helped students meet their technology needs successfully this fall, will continue to offer its robust set of supports. Faculty members will continue to find an equally robust support system through the Rutgers Teaching and Learning Technology unit and the array of opportunities offered through Rutgers-Newark’s P3 Collaboratory (Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly Engaged Scholarship).

 

Student Academic Support

The strategy for Fall 2020 of providing remote academic advising and tutoring has proven effective. Students and tutors continue to report satisfaction with one-to-one sessions, advising offices are meeting drop-in needs with open, all-day WebEx “meetings,” and students and advisors have recognized the broad availability of and high attendance at advising appointments. For Spring 2021, consequently, both tutoring and academic advisement will continue to be remote. Appointments can be made for both through RUN4Success, and individual school contacts are available as needed. We will expand service hours in most of our advising and tutoring offices as needed, hiring more tutors for remote group workshops and supplemental instruction.

 

Research

With much of our research enterprise being place-based in nature and incremental measures introduced over the course of the past six months to restore our research capacity, steady progress has been made on the path toward regaining full capacity. On the four-phase plan for progress established across Rutgers, we are now at phase C, with 75% of our research capacity restored. Further progress will continue to be guided by the plan established between the Rutgers-Newark Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and its peers across Rutgers.

 

Staffing

As we increase in-person instruction, we will continue to carefully build the staggered staff and faculty presence on campus to support our hybrid of on-campus and remote activities. This staggered, safe repopulation serves to address on-campus needs within our offices that are student-facing and/or access to place-based resources such as research and computer labs. Over the past several months, safety has been a priority as we prepared the campus for incremental repopulation. Some of these measures include:

  • Enabling and requiring swipe access for entry to all buildings with card readers.
  • Installing signage regarding the requirement to wear protective face covering, and to provide guidelines for how to achieve social distancing in spaces such as student services offices and in elevators.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing schedules have been adjusted to emphasize frequent attention to high-touch surfaces, especially in common areas.
  • Installing hand sanitizing stations in numerous locations.
  • Evaluating ventilation in buildings and making adjustments as per New Jersey state guidelines.
  • Introducing the My Campus Pass for self-evaluation of virus symptoms. This system is now required for use by all Rutgers community members each day when traveling to campus or entering a campus building.
  • Introducing an electronic Rutgers Visitors Log for all Rutgers buildings.

 

COVID-19 Testing Protocols

We are working in close collaboration with our colleagues across Rutgers to assure that we have in place effective, scientifically sound testing protocols for all students, faculty, and staff who will be present on campus in Spring 2021. The university currently employs a robust on-campus strategy developed through best practices and guidance from the New Jersey Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. As advances in testing are ever changing, our testing protocols are constantly being revised, updated and expanded as we move through the fall into the spring semester. There are a number of dependencies to appropriate testing, including the availability of reliable and quick result-driven tests that continue to improve and would inform the taker almost immediately. We are committed to keeping our community healthy while providing a sense of security for our returnees—students, faculty, and staff—and continue working towards that goal.

As our spring planning evolves we will continue to update our community on changes to our protocols including type and frequency of testing. It is important to note that the testing plan will supplement the My Campus Pass app for self-evaluation that all members of the Rutgers community are required to use each day when traveling to campus or entering a Rutgers building, as well as the use of the Rutgers Visitors Log. Likewise, it supplements the COVID-19 training awareness course, “Safety Short: Coronaviruses and COVID-19,” that all faculty, staff, and students are required to complete. And, as always, the key ingredients to keeping our campus community safe will depend on everyone wearing face coverings, abiding by social distancing, and washing hands regularly.

 

 

Student Affairs

Residence Life and Dining Services

We will continue aiming to increase our on-campus housing capacity incrementally to meet the needs of students who want to live on campus. During Fall 2020, we have been at about 25% of our housing capacity; we will seek to increase toward 35-40%, while remaining within health and safety guidelines. Reflecting our present plan, in Spring 2021 students living in our residential facilities will be in single bedrooms and rooms will continue to be reserved in the event that students need to isolate if they test positive for the virus. Likewise, as is true now, all students living on campus in Spring 2021 will be required to participate in our rigorous, periodic testing program for the virus and will need to heed the special protocols in place that prohibit large gatherings in our residential and on-campus facilities. Dining services offered will be a diversified choice of full meals and snacks throughout the day, grab-and-go and carry-out, expanding incrementally as circumstances and our capacities allow. Students will receive communications in the next several days with more information about housing for Spring 2021; applications for housing will be accepted as of early November.

 

Student Life

We have seen robust student participation this fall in virtual campus activities including for student organizations, Greek Life, and our student governing associations. We expect that activity to continue and increase. Now and in the spring, students have access to use of the Paul Robeson Campus Center for study space and dining services, with appropriate distancing protocols in place. Additionally, students will continue to be able to use the Fitness Center in the Golden Dome by reservation. We look forward to expanding the use of our athletic facilities as health guidelines enable us to do so.

Further, the Counseling Center and Career Development Center have expanded their offerings so that students have additional counseling services and the ability to prepare for their future career aspirations in the changing employment and career landscapes that now exist. The Student Health Center, Food Pantry (pantryRUN), and Offices of Disability Services, Student Life and Leadership, Veterans Affairs and all offices and programs providing support for students will continue to work with students individually and in groups, both virtually and in person, to ensure that students have the support they need to succeed.

 

Enrollment Services & Experience

The Division of Enrollment Services & Experience will continue to have staggered professional staff presence on campus to help meet student needs. All Enrollment Services & Experience staff will continue to work one-on-one via WebEx or Zoom and phone appointments. The One-Stop (Offices of Financial Aid; Registrar; Student Accounting, Billing and Cashiering; and myRUN call center in Blumenthal Hall) will continue with limited in-person appointments for Financial Aid and Cashiering. Students can schedule an appointment with each of the One-Stop offices on myRUN. We will continue to provide the One-Stop virtual counter for the One-Stop offices. The virtual counter also provides a virtual space for offices to work collaboratively to better meet student needs. Students can continue to email the One-Stop offices with inquiries. The Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Admission (Engelhard Hall) and the Center for Pre-College Programs (Bradley Hall) will continue to operate remotely. The Admissions and the PreCollege offices can be reached via email and phone. Up-to-date Division of Enrollment Services & Experience’s spring 2021 plans and operations will be posted on myRUN.

 

Academic Spaces (Dana Library and Express Newark)

Dana Library

John Cotton Dana Library will continue to be open to the RU-N community only, with the usual requirement of patrons showing their Rutgers ID. Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Fridays, and closed on weekends. The lower level, first floor, and third floor will be available for use by library patrons, including computer labs and open study spaces for RU-N undergraduates, graduate students, and students enrolled in the professional schools.  Group study rooms will be closed as they do not allow for social distancing.

Hygiene and cleaning protocols follow CDC and University guidelines, along with best practices in librarianship. Plexiglas screens are installed at the Security and Circulation desks. All physical materials shipped or returned to the library are quarantined for 6 days upon receipt, so please be patient when requesting materials from external libraries. The library stacks are closed and collections are cordoned off to avoid foot traffic. Patrons search for and place requests for library materials using QuickSearch, the Rutgers Libraries online catalog, and schedule appointments for pick up. Reference and instruction services will continue to occur online.

The Rutgers Libraries have instituted new, low- or no-contact services to facilitate research and study.

 

• Click and Collect, the library version of curbside pickup, is a little- or no-contact method for retrieving requested materials at the libraries. Users may submit a request through QuickSearch and will receive an email when their items are ready with information for booking a pickup time and other location-specific instructions.

• Personal Delivery is an alternative option for users who are not able to retrieve their materials on campus. Users select “Personal Delivery” in QuickSearch and confirm their mailing address; items are shipped directly to that address.

• Interlibrary Loan, EZ Borrow, and U Borrow services have resumed. Users should expect some delays in delivery of interlibrary loan materials as libraries in our networks are in various stages of reopening.

The Rutgers Libraries also offer a host of other resources and services to support faculty members in teaching and research, all of which can be accessed remotely:

• Article & chapter scanning: Fulfillment of requests for digitization of articles and book chapters has begun. Requests can be submitted from within QuickSearch.

• Electronic course reserves: Faculty members may request additions to their reserves list or set up an online reading list.

• Online resources: Search millions of ebooks and journals through QuickSearch or access our hundreds of databases.

• Consultations and instruction sessions: Contact one of the subject experts.

• Archives consultations and instruction sessions: Contact one of the archivists.

The occupancy of Dana library will continue to be monitored by security personnel to ensure that state indoor occupancy guidelines are followed. Should there be high demand for study space / computer usage in the library, an appointment system will be implemented with set time limits in order to maximize the number of patrons who need access to the building at any given time. Movement of furniture and/or seating will not be allowed as furniture will already be situated in order to promote social distancing. Sanitation dispensers will be easily accessible throughout the first floor, third floor, and lower level of the library. Please note that returned materials will also continue to be disinfected. Sanitation stations will be placed in the open study areas for patrons to sanitize their study spaces before and after use.

 

Express Newark

Express Newark (EN) will be open to Rutgers faculty, staff, students, and artists in residence via swipe access during regular business hours of Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Visitors must be noted in the Rutgers Visitors Log, wear a face covering, and display their ID. Security personnel will continue to monitor the number of users in order to ensure that indoor gathering guidelines are followed. EN staff will encourage and facilitate the use of conference rooms in order to allow for social distancing for users (staff, faculty, and student workers), who usually work in smaller spaces. EN will only host academic programs that comply with current State of New Jersey guidelines, can accommodate social distancing, and where wearing a face covering is required. All EN programs with resident community partners need to be vetted and signed off on by the EN director so that the schedule can be developed to ensure social distancing throughout the space.

The Paul Robeson Gallery will continue to limit the number of people in the space to allow for social distancing, and may establish time limits on visitors in the gallery in order to allow for more people to move through the space. EN staff will continue to telecommute where possible, and when in the office, will observe social distancing requirements. They will continue to alternate work days and stagger their arrival and departure, with the understanding that there cannot be more than two people in the office at a time in order to allow for social distancing.

 

Our plan will be updated as needed by evolving public health considerations. Meanwhile, our fervent hopes remain with you, your families, and your communities for health and fortitude as we continue to confront the pandemic together.

 

In solidarity,

Nancy Cantor
Chancellor