Reopening New Jersey: Rutgers, Princeton announce plans for fall semester

NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Rutgers University announced Monday that it is planning for limited in-person classes in the fall, while Princeton University will allow all students on campus for one semester each during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said in a letter to students that due to ongoing requirements for social distancing and a priority to keep students and the university community safe, most courses will rely on remote methods of instruction.

"This decision was not made easily or hastily," he wrote. "We have had extensive consultation with our public health experts, faculty, deans, provosts, and chancellors over the past several months. We have wanted very fervently to be able to resume some version of a normal semester. But given the continued increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, the near-term outlook for the public health crisis in our state, and the uncertainty about the course of the pandemic, we had to make a different decision."

Related: 2 Rutgers football players test positive for COVID-19

Princeton announced that undergrads may return to campus for one semester during the 2020-21 academic year. First-year students and juniors are welcomed to campus for the fall semester, while sophomores and seniors can come back for the spring semester.

At Rutgers, the remote learning will be delivered in real-time and asynchronously, while in-person instruction will include select courses in the arts, laboratory or field work, and clinical instruction.

On-campus housing across Rutgers will be extremely limited, and the suspension of campus events will remain in place this fall.

"We think we can only house 25-30% of our students in dormitories already," Holloway said.

Holloway says this isn't the leadership role he expected or planned when he was named the president of the university in January.

He faces challenges of dropping enrollment, which is down 3% on the New Brunswick campus, along with a battered budget and lost revenue due to the virus.

In addition, the new president already faces some union and contract issues.

"The arithmetic is unavoidable ... there is going to have to be cuts in our system," Holloway said.

Holloway also realizes that with the changes in the social climate, he'll have to address racial disparities at the school.

But he has an answer to those calling to change Rutgers' name because of its ties to slavery.

"We're not going to change the name of the university, I'll just come out and say it right now -- that does not mean I'm opposed to having a conversation about it," Holloway said.

Decisions regarding the upcoming athletic season will continue to be guided by state requirements and policies developed by the campuses' respective athletic conferences.

Related: Rutgers develops 1st FDA authorized at-home saliva test for COVID

Holloway said that the university has not made any decisions regarding winter session or the spring semester.

Earlier in the pandemic, Rutgers announced a tuition freeze and other cost cutting measures.

CLICK HERE for more information on plans for the fall semester.

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