SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — The Seton Hall board of regents has reaffirmed that the university will open its campuses, residence halls and instruction for the fall 2020 semester as permitted by Stage 2 of New Jersey’s reopening plan.
Seton Hall has met or exceeded all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and guidance for higher education. However, due to a recent rise in the COVID-19 transmission rate, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is currently prohibiting in-person instruction except for labs, clinicals, and certain technical and hands-on instructional courses.
The university remains in a state of readiness to begin complete in-person instruction, whether before or after the beginning of the academic year, as soon as Murphy moves the state into Stage 3 of its reopening plan.
“I know beginning the semester with mostly remote instruction is a disappointment to everyone, myself included,” SHU President Joseph Nyre said. “Yet our months of multivariate planning have prepared the university well for this moment. We are equally prepared to pivot to in-person instruction when it is possible to do so.”
Despite the delay in moving to Stage 3, which would allow in-person instruction at New Jersey’s colleges and universities, Seton Hall students are eager to begin the semester.
“Like my fellow students, I was looking forward to taking classes in person at the start of this semester,” Student Government Association President Julia Nicolls said “But I realize circumstances may not permit that to happen right away. I am grateful to the many people at Seton Hall who have been working hard to prepare campus for our safe return.”
Stage 2 guidelines permit in-person instruction for curricula that require labs, clinical rotations, and technical and hands-on instruction. These criteria apply to courses in several schools and colleges; administrators are working to determine exactly which classes are eligible for in-person instruction and will alert the university community as soon as that list is posted on the Seton Hall website.
Apart from the delay in most on-campus instruction, all other aspects of the university’s confirmed Restart Plan remain unchanged. This includes a return-to-campus timetable of Aug. 10 for employees; Aug. 16 to begin an extended and appropriately socially distanced move-in; and Aug. 24 for the first day of classes.
“I am confident we will provide a robust remote educational experience by drawing on all we learned last spring plus an entire summer of planning and preparation,” Provost and Executive Vice President Katia Passerini said. “Our faculty have shown tremendous dedication to their students by committing themselves wholeheartedly to providing exceptional instruction, regardless of how it is delivered.”
Seton Hall officials are pleased to welcome students back to campus and reduced-density residence halls, as permitted by Stage 2 guidelines. Likewise, the University will provide food service and dining amenities consistent with state health protocols.
“The Student Services team has prepared a wide array of social and community engagement programs — both for students returning to campus and those who remain remote,” student services Vice President Shawna Cooper-Gibson said. “I encourage our students to make use of the many campus-life experiences that are being offered to complement their academic experience. We will continue to offer all student support services.”
Student life activities and clubs will be permitted but will be guided by the governor current limitations on indoor gatherings of no more than 25 people or 25-percent room occupancy. Masks will be required in all public spaces on campus.
“We look forward to working with the entire Student Government Association, student body, faculty, staff and administration as we address the year ahead,” SGA secretary Raven Campbell said.
All residential students will be directed to the university’s COVID-19 testing site when they arrive for move-in. Testing is being provided to students through the university’s health services, free of insurance copays and free of charge for students whose insurance does not cover testing. Testing of all residential students was enacted by Seton Hall in response to rising COVID-19 cases nationwide.
As a service to students, those arriving from states on New Jersey’s quarantine list will be provided with single-occupancy rooms for a state-advised, voluntary 14-day self-quarantine, and will have access to campus services and supports.
“This is a moment where our compassion for one another, our understanding of the complexities of our situation and our flexibility will define the character of our community,” Nyre said.