Information Regarding Return to Campus for Rutgers–New Brunswick
The largely virtual nature of the past academic year has posed countless challenges for our entire University community. Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has taken an immeasurable toll on our families, friends, colleagues, and communities. Yet, we are continually amazed by the resiliency we have witnessed every day and by your collective ability to adapt and continue to support and educate our students. And, of course, we are indebted to all the essential personnel who remained on campus throughout the pandemic response.
As vaccination rates rise and infection rates fall, we now look to a brighter future. In his recent email, President Holloway outlined plans for our return to campus for Fall 2021 to support our core mission. Governor Murphy’s recent Executive Order (No. 242) lifting social distancing requirements for higher education institutions allows us further flexibility in formulating our plan for Returning to Rutgers. The past year has taught us that the conditions brought about by the pandemic require us to be flexible and include contingencies in our planning. During the coming weeks and months, we will continue to review, refine, and update our plans for a safe return to campus. As President Holloway stated in his message, “the safe repopulation of our campuses is a shared responsibility, which means we all must do our part to keep safe.”
Return of Faculty and Staff to Campus
The first component of our return is to develop and implement plans to bring our faculty and staff back to campus. Units are being asked to share descriptions of their return plans with the provost’s office at email@example.com by June 30, 2021.
Our ultimate goal is to be prepared to welcome our students back to campus in mid-August. Units will have the flexibility to determine how best to meet this goal, prioritizing the health and safety of faculty and staff. This summer will provide us with opportunities to reacquaint ourselves with our campus environment; to safely reconnect with faculty and staff; and, wherever possible, to welcome our new and returning students to Rutgers.
Vaccination and Employee Safety
Our commitment to the health and safety of our community remains at the forefront of Rutgers University’s response to the pandemic. The university has mandated that all students returning to campus this fall be vaccinated and has urged faculty and staff to get vaccinated as well, whether through Rutgers’ vaccination centers or another source of the approved vaccines. All employees are expected to upload their proof of vaccination via the Rutgers COVID-19 Vaccine Portal, or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
As we return to campus, please know that precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of all Rutgers stakeholders. Each unit’s return-to-campus plan will include measures for physical distancing and office hygiene, as mandated by the University.
Events and Activities
As we return to campus this summer, many stakeholders will request permission to hold events and activities on campus. In light of new state requirements regarding public events, as well as the availability of vaccines and our return-to-campus planning, the University has created a new approval process for such requests.
Under the new policy, which remains in effect until Aug. 31, 2021, all New Brunswick events and activities must be approved by the Chancellor’s Office before the event organizer may submit them via the Event and Activity Certification System. Event requests may be submitted to the Chancellor’s Office using the form found in this link.
All requestors will, within 48 hours, receive an emailed response indicating approval or a request for further information. Upon receiving an approval letter from the Chancellor’s Office, the requestor must use the Event and Activity Certification System to submit their event or activity for certification. Any questions about this process can be directed to Executive Vice Chancellor Felicia McGinty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Academic Planning for Fall 2021
We continue to look forward to the return of students this Fall. During the summer, we will continue to prepare to return to our classrooms, and our success will depend on our faculty and the dedicated staff who support our instructional planning. Given current state guidance, we will be allowed to return to pre-pandemic capacities in our classrooms and will no longer need to cap enrollments for in-person course sections at 100 students. Academic units are already working closely with the Provost’s team to review their Fall course offerings and expand in-person opportunities for our students.
We want to stress that we are not rescheduling the Fall semester; our returning students have already created their schedules and registered for courses, and introducing extensive changes would be tremendously disruptive for them. However, we do want to provide academic programs with the ability to add in-person opportunities for our students where there is demand and where faculty determine it is pedagogically appropriate, particularly as we assess the needs of our incoming students.
Return to Research
We also continue to expand support for the return to research. Although many of our research facilities are now open, most are operating at reduced capacity. During the coming weeks, the Provost’s team will be working with Michael E. Zwick, Ph.D., the new Senior Vice President for Research, and his staff to update the plans for Return to Research, and we will share them as soon as possible.
Navigating the Transition
We are mindful that many individuals in our University community will have differing degrees of comfort as we transition back to our pre-pandemic campus life. We will work closely with the leaders of our schools, programs, and departments to make program-specific adjustments that will appropriately increase in-person instruction, student support services, research, and other key campus functions, while continuing to focus on the health and safety of our University community. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding returning to campus will be updated to reflect any changes and will be available on the Provost’s website.
Though we know there are still many questions regarding our transition back to campus, the University administration will continue to update its guidance and respond to concerns as public health conditions improve. Of course, we will continue to closely monitor the community safety guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our public health experts, and make adjustments as necessary.
And, though we are all excited to return to campus, we are also aware that some members of our community may have COVID-related constraints. The extension of the telecommuting policy allows your unit leaders flexibility in customizing employee return plans where appropriate. Our goal, however, is to bring our students, faculty, and staff back to the campus we love for the Fall.
We would like to remind you of the many services and resources available to assist faculty and staff in supporting their mental and emotional well-being during this transition. If needed, please access the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) website for any work-related matters. The EAP service is available 24 hours for crisis and emergency counseling; its toll-free number is 1-800-327-3678.
Like you, we eagerly await seeing our students and colleagues once again—meeting in our student centers, studying in our libraries, gathering in our office spaces, and, most of all, attending courses in our classrooms, laboratories, and studios. We look forward to thanking you in person for all you do for Rutgers.
Christopher J. Molloy, Ph.D.
Chancellor, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Francine Conway, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs