Dear Monmouth University Community:
Thank you for your continuing cooperation and understanding as we have strived to make each decision related to our fall restart and ongoing campus operations with caution and consideration for the overall safety of our university community, and with as little disruption to the academic and student experience as possible. We deliberately waited until early November to make a final decision on our post-Thanksgiving plans to ensure that we had a clear understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on our campus community, as well as the most current recommendations from our state and local public health officials.
Thanks to the collective efforts of the university community, we have experienced a notable decrease in cases at Monmouth over the past month. However, we simultaneously recognize the rise in cases elsewhere in New Jersey and throughout the country. Consequently, following the Thanksgiving break, in-person and hybrid courses – with limited exceptions outlined below – will move to online delivery for the remainder of the fall semester, including the final exam period. This decision will result in reduced activity on campus, particularly as residential students will be given the option to stay home after the break, thereby helping to prevent future spread of the virus among our campus community.
The decision to shift to online delivery for most courses after Thanksgiving will have the following impact on academic services:
- Academic Course Delivery. Courses currently offered online will continue to be offered remotely. Exceptions are in-person or hybrid courses that are not amenable to remote delivery, including in-person clinical and field-based experiences. Faculty and students who are impacted directly by these exceptions will soon receive further instruction from their dean or department chair. We acknowledge that there have been a series of modifications to academic delivery this fall, and we appreciate your flexibility in helping to preserve the health and safety of our community.
- Flexible Grading Policy. Please recall that we have extended our flexible grading policy through the Fall 2020 semester, whereby students may opt to receive a letter or pass/fail grade for each course. When grading concludes, the registrar will provide additional information to students on grading and a link to the pass/fail e-form.
The decision to move most courses to online delivery after Thanksgiving will have the following limited impact on campus living and learning:
- Residential Life. All residential halls will remain open to students who wish to return to campus after Thanksgiving. If you are an on-campus residential student and choose to stay home after Thanksgiving, you will need to inform us of your decision by Friday, Nov. 13. The Office of Residential Life will follow-up soon by email with detailed instructions for this process. If you choose to leave university housing, you will receive prorated refunds or credits on unused room contracts, meal plans, and parking fees. All refunds and credits will be prorated for the period beginning Monday, Nov. 30, 2020 through the end of the semester.
- Quarantine and COVID-19 Testing Requirements.
- Individuals traveling to NJ/NY/CT/PA/DE: Pursuant to New Jersey’s 14-day quarantine travel advisory as of today, Nov. 2, if you will be visiting New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Delaware during Thanksgiving break, then you may return to campus without the requirement to quarantine. You will need to be tested for COVID-19 between Monday, Nov. 30, and Wednesday, Dec. 2. If you choose to be tested at a site other than the Ocean First Bank Center Lobby (Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), then you must submit evidence of testing during this 72-hour period, along with test results, to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Wednesday, Dec. 2. Individuals testing positive will be required to isolate, just as any individuals deemed at-risk through contact tracing efforts will be required to quarantine.
- Individuals traveling to states and jurisdictions other than NJ/NY/CT/PA/DE: Pursuant to New Jersey’s 14-day quarantine travel advisory as of today, Nov. 2, if you will be visiting any of the states and jurisdictions on New Jersey’s travel advisory list, then we strongly encourage you to stay home after the break to avoid the required 14-day quarantine upon returning to campus. As an alternative, we can make accommodations for you to remain on campus over Thanksgiving break.
- Social Interactions. Social interactions will continue to be limited to five or fewer people. If these interactions take place indoors, masks must be worn and six feet or more of social distance must be maintained. Residential hall visitation restrictions will remain in effect.
- Health Center. The Health Center will remain open during this time. The additional testing site in the Ocean First Bank Center Lobby will also be open and providing free COVID-19 testing Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you feel ill and/or are presenting any COVID-19 symptoms, please make immediate arrangements to be tested.
- Library. The Guggenheim Memorial Library will be open with modified hours, and with reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Computer use and study space will be available for students and the campus community following health and safety guidelines. Contactless book request and pickup service will continue.
- Pool and Fitness Center. The pool and fitness center will remain open, subject to mandatory health and safety protocols and previously prescribed restrictions on capacity.
- Dining. Limited indoor dining will continue, at 25% capacity, compliant with State guidelines. Masks are required at all times, except when eating, and social distancing must be maintained. Takeout and socially distanced outdoor seating will remain available on a modified basis. Hours of operation for dining services may also be modified based on demand.
- Computer Labs. Computer labs will remain open with modified hours. Users must maintain six feet or more of social distance and observe other health and safety protocols.
- Athletics. University athletic team activities will continue – including limited winter sports competition, formal practices, and individual and small group training – provided all activities are supervised by athletics staff.
All previously stated health and safety protocols will remain in effect during this period, including the mandatory use of face coverings and the required practice of social distancing. Upon extensive consultation with our public health officials and lengthy discussion with our key constituencies, we are confident that the decision to move academic programming primarily online, while continuing to offer on-campus residential and student services, will be the best move forward for our university community this fall.
I will be in touch again soon with a message detailing plans for the spring semester. In the meantime, you may continue to access the most current and comprehensive campus information, including daily dashboard data, by visiting our COVID-19 website. If you have any questions on plans for the remainder of the fall semester, please direct them to FallRestart@monmouth.edu.
Thank you for your continued flexibility as we navigate these challenging times together.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy