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Important COVID-19 Update to Operations

Dear Monmouth University Community:

Throughout this week, I have written to you with updates on the impact of COVID-19 on our University community and directed you to the COVID-19 campus dashboard for the latest reporting on total confirmed cases in our campus community as well as the number of students in isolation or quarantine. On Tuesday, I also outlined a series of changes to our operations and health protocols in response to the increase in confirmed cases over the past week.

We continue to consult with local public health officials about the increase in confirmed cases and consequently have resolved to take additional action.

Effective Monday, October 5, through Friday, October 16, all courses other than labs and clinical experiences will move to remote delivery in a further effort to reduce the risk of virus spread. Residence halls will remain open during this time. Following this two-week period of remote delivery, we will have our Fall Break, scheduled for Saturday, October 17 through Tuesday, October 20. During the break, residential students are strongly encouraged to remain on campus, and we urge all students – residential and non-residential – to limit their trips to essential travel only and to adhere to New Jersey state travel and quarantine guidelines.

In addition to moving courses online for this two-week period, we will continue to enforce the most recent changes to our campus operations and protocols to maximize safety and mitigate virus spread. I am extending the following measures through Tuesday, October 20 – the end of our Fall Break. 

Operations

  • Gatherings of any kind with greater than 5 people will be prohibited.
  • Dining services will be limited to takeout and socially distanced outdoor seating only. There will be no indoor seating.
  • Clubs, organizations, and intramural/recreational activities will be conducted virtually.
  • The pool and fitness center will temporarily close.
  • University athletic team activities will be restricted to supervised individual and small group training of 5 or fewer people only. No formal, University-sponsored athletic practices or competition will be permitted during this period. 
  • The University campus will temporarily close to all visitors, including prospective students and their families.

Protocols

  • Properly worn masks will be required at all times on the campus – indoors and outdoors – except when eating and when alone in your private residence hall room or alone in your private office.
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet will be required at all times.
  • The University will increase testing, as appropriate.

During this period, computer labs and the Guggenheim Library will remain open and available to students, subject to existing capacity limitations and social distancing guidelines. Since University offices will remain open to serve students, there will be no immediate change to current staffing levels on campus, which are already greatly reduced. As always, if you have questions regarding work schedules, please be in direct contact with your supervisor or area vice president. 

It is my sincere hope that these actions will help to slow the spread of infection and allow us to resume our fall semester as planned. I will continue to keep you informed by sharing updates as they become available. Please remember to visit our COVID-19 website for the most current and comprehensive campus information. And, if you have questions, please feel free to direct them to FallRestart@monmouth.edu. Staff members are standing by to answer your questions as quickly as possible.

Thank you in advance for your continued cooperation and flexibility during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President 

Latest COVID-19 Update

Dear Monmouth University Community:

I promised in my communications earlier this week that I would stay in close touch regarding the status of COVID-19 within the University community. We continue to update on a daily basis our publicly available dashboard, which tracks confirmed test results in our campus community and reports the number of students in isolation or quarantine. 

Based on the most recent test results, including self-reported and university-conducted testing, today we are reporting a total number of cumulative cases of 119, a continued increase over the previous day(s). One hundred and sixteen of these cases are active cases, requiring students to be isolated for a period of time. We still have seen no evidence of transmission of the virus from students to faculty or staff members.

In addition to the measures announced earlier this week, I anticipate implementing additional health and safety measures tomorrow, following conversations with the public health officials from the Monmouth Regional Health Commission, as well as with faculty, staff, and student leadership here at the University.

I strongly urge all members of the campus community to reaffirm their personal commitment to health and safety practices in order to keep Monmouth Strong. Please be on the lookout for further guidance tomorrow. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

Follow Up to Yesterday’s COVID-19 Update

Dear Monmouth University Community:

Yesterday I shared with you the latest information on the impact of COVID-19 on our University community. Informed by these data, I have decided to implement additional measures to continue to deliver a safe and healthy academic experience.

Effective Wednesday, September 30 – and extending for a two-week period through Tuesday, October 14 – we will make the following changes to our campus operations and protocols to maximize safety on campus:

Operations

  • Dining services will be limited to takeout and socially distanced outdoor seating only. There will be no indoor seating.
  • Clubs, organizations, and intramural/recreational activities will be conducted virtually. Gatherings of any kind greater than five people will be prohibited.
  • The pool and fitness center will temporarily close.
  • University athletic team activities will be restricted to supervised individual and small group training only. No formal, University-sponsored athletic practices or competition will be permitted during this period.
  • The University campus will temporarily close to all visitors, including prospective students and their families.

Protocols

  • Properly worn masks will be required at all times on the campus – indoors and outdoors – except when eating and when sitting in your private residence hall room or in your private office.
  • The University will increase testing, as appropriate.

At this point, since the majority of our academic delivery is already online, there will be no immediate change to academic delivery as a result of these temporary restrictions. We will continue discussions with faculty members in the days ahead as we monitor closely the impact of COVID-19 cases on our campus. During this period, computer labs and the Guggenheim Library will remain open and available to students, subject to existing capacity limitations and social distancing guidelines. If modifications to our academic delivery are deemed necessary, we will notify the campus community immediately.  

To date, we have still not seen evidence of transmission from students to faculty or staff, and based on contact tracing, transmission appears to be limited to student social interactions. Since the majority of our staff members are already working remotely, there will be no immediate change to staffing levels. If you have questions regarding work schedules, please be in direct contact with your supervisor or area vice president, as usual.

We will continue our efforts to educate the campus community on the importance of the individual – and shared – responsibility to wear masks, practice social distancing, and wash hands frequently. It is imperative that our students take needed precautions in their social interactions both on and off campus to prevent the spread of this virus. To facilitate this beyond our campus, we have personally visited the rental homes of our students living locally to further educate them on these responsibilities. We will continue to reinforce the consequences of failure to comply with University policy and New Jersey Executive Order No. 155.

It is my sincere hope that these actions will help to slow the spread of infection so that we may all continue to enjoy a safe and healthy fall semester here on campus. I will continue to keep you informed and share updates, as they become available. I encourage parents and family members to join the Monmouth Family Connection and visit our COVID-19 website for the most current and comprehensive campus information. If you have questions, please feel free to direct them to FallRestart@monmouth.edu. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and flexibility during this challenging time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

Important COVID-19 Update

Dear Monmouth University Community:

Consistent with our commitment to transparency regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to provide daily updates to our dashboard, which tracks confirmed test results in our campus community and reports the number of students in isolation or quarantine. 

Based on the most recent test results, including self-reported and university-conducted testing, today we are reporting 36 new confirmed cases. While the overall numbers are still small relative to our campus population, it is a notable increase over the 39 total confirmed cases reported on Friday, September 25. While we continue to monitor the situation closely, we are fortunate that none of the confirmed cases has resulted in hospitalization. Moreover, we have seen no evidence of transmission of the virus from students to faculty or staff members. As of today, we have not identified any confirmed cases among graduate students.

We have immediately expanded our contact tracing efforts and have increased the use of strategic surveillance testing. I anticipate implementing additional health and safety measures as soon as tomorrow, following conversations with the public health officials from the Monmouth Regional Health Commission, as well as with faculty, staff, and student leadership here at the University.

I strongly urge all members of the campus community to reaffirm their commitment to personal health and safety practices in order to keep Monmouth Strong. Please be on the lookout for further guidance tomorrow.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

COVID-19 Update, Campus Dashboard

To the Monmouth University Community:

I am writing to share some important information as we enter the second week of the Fall 2020 semester. As you know, for the past several months we have worked diligently to develop plans and protocols to address COVID-19 and our return to the campus. One of the commitments we have made throughout this process is to be as transparent as possible in sharing information with you regarding the presence of COVID-19 on campus. To that end, we have created a COVID-19 Campus Dashboard which can be found at www.monmouth.edu/dashboard on our Monmouth University website.

This dashboard reflects our commitment to transparency related to the health and safety of our campus community. The dashboard, which will be updated daily by 4:00 p.m., tracks cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases on campus among residential students, non-residential students, and employees who are working on campus, even if on a flexible schedule, as well the number of university-sponsored beds occupied by students currently in quarantine or isolation.  In addition, the dashboard also reflects the number of students living off campus in the local community who may have in person or hybrid courses here on campus who are in quarantine or isolation at their homes in the community.

I hope that our students, their families, and our employees will find this dashboard to be a useful source of information as we work to keep our campus and surrounding communities as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, I want to remind you that if you become aware of an employee/student who tests positive for COVID-19 you should notify Health Services by contacting Kathy Maloney at kmaloney@monmouth.edu or health@monmouth.edu. Upon such notification, the Health Services will keep the academic area informed should students or professors will be missing classes due to the illness by informing Danielle Schrama from the Center for Student Success.

Just as we did in the spring, this is an important part of our overall campus health and safety plan. Our health professional will provide medical guidance, track progress, conduct contact tracing as required and provide medical clearance when needed.

Finally, I thought it might be helpful to share some important information with you about the process to be followed if there is a positive case of COVID-19 on campus. Please see below from the COVID-19 Fall Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

What is the procedure if positive cases are discovered?

Students: Students who receive a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 will be isolated from the general student population. Students who live within 100 miles of campus and are able to go home will be encouraged to do so. For COVID-positive students who are unable to go home, they will be moved into campus isolation housing. The COVID-19 Response Team, which consists of members of Health Services, Residential Life, Student Life, Dining Services, MUPD, and Center for Student Success will be tracking positives. They have developed an Excel spreadsheet to track essential information, date of positive test, symptoms, location of isolation, monitoring and date of release from isolation, etc. They will ensure the health, safety, and academic needs of the student are met. The team member who represents the Center for Student Success, Danielle Schrama, will be responsible for serving as academic liaison between the student in isolation and the student’s professors to ensure that studies continue in a remote fashion while providing any additional academic support services that are needed.

Faculty: Faculty teaching onsite courses who must quarantine and/or isolate will be encouraged to work with their department Chairs and Deans to provide temporary onsite departmental coverage for their courses where possible, as they normally would when faculty experience limited absences from the classroom due to illness or approved travel. Faculty may also be encouraged to move their onsite class meetings online for the duration of their quarantine or isolation period. 

Staff: All employees are asked to stay home when they are ill, or when experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.  Employees will be expected to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms including temperature taking each day prior to coming to work. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home, contact your health care provider, and report your absence to your Supervisor. Please report a COVID-19 diagnosis to the University Health Center.

Also, if you have been in close contact with a person in the last 14 days who is confirmed to have COVID-19, please stay at home and contact your private medical provider and the University Health Center. 

Additional information: Contact tracers will notify professors and classmates with instructions as appropriate to the situation. Students who are quarantined due to pending test results are responsible for notifying their professors, as this is a short-term quarantine situation. If the test comes back positive, then the COVID Response Team is activated and contact tracers will notify professors and students as needed. For example, if physical distancing was not maintained and involved a COVID-positive student, then the class + professor will be directed to quarantine and get tested. If a student is positive but physical distancing was maintained, the class + professor will be instructed to self-monitor for symptoms.

What will faculty or students need to do if a student or faculty tests positive for COVID-19 in an in-person class?

In a classroom situation such as the pairing of lab partners, if physical distancing was not maintained and there was a student who tested positive for COVID-19 then the affected class member(s) and/or professor within the radius of exposure will be directed to quarantine and get tested. If a student is positive but physical distancing was maintained in the classroom at all times, the classmates and the professor will be instructed to self-monitor for symptoms. Physical distance is maintained if all parties are beyond (>) 6 feet from the COVID-positive person. For example, if someone is in the same class but is in the opposite corner of the room and there is 12 ft. between them and the positive case, they do not have to quarantine but must self-monitor for 14 days.

The University, working with the state and local health experts, strongly recommends, that faculty assign seating to minimize potential exposure to COVID positive individuals and assist in contact tracing should the need arise. Faculty may keep a record of the seating arrangement to assist contact tracers determine persons at highest risk and to expedite the communication and quarantine process. Health and safety of our community members is our number one priority. We all have a community responsibility to maintain public health principles of masking and social distancing. Although not required, this recommendation is a tool geared toward ensuring the health and safety of our students and faculty and supports state health guidelines. The COVID-19 Response Team is available for your assistance. For questions, faculty and students may contact Danielle Schrama: dschrama@monmouth.edu. Please contact Associate Vice President Christine Benol at cbenol@monmouth.edu if you wish to receive room assignment configuration information.

Since our fall reopening, we are pleased to see so many of our students and employees respecting and following the health and safety protocols. Practicing social distancing, hand-washing, wearing masks, and following the health and safety protocols will help us mitigate the virus and enable us to continue to offer in-person instruction and campus experience for everyone. Stay safe and well; keep others safe and well.

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy

President

Welcome Message

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to a new Fall Semester here at Monmouth! I can’t tell you how happy I am to welcome you all back to campus, a place we all cherish. Over the past five months, all of us here have worked diligently to plan for this return in a safe and responsible manner. I am beginning to feel the energy again here on campus, and that fills me with great pride and gratitude for all of you who worked to get us here.

Others within the community have written to you to make sure you understand your responsibilities for a safe return to campus. They really are pretty simple. 1) Wear a mask. 2) Wash your hands and don’t touch your face. 3) Complete your Campus Clear App every day. If you aren’t all clear, then stay home or visit Health Services. 4) Stay socially distant from one another, while staying emotionally connected. And, 5) most importantly, if you don’t feel well, seek medical advice from our staff in Health Services or from your own provider.     

Over the weekend over 1,100 students moved into campus housing, and many other students are coming to campus for in-person courses and other services. Since the campus is open, I hope all of the different departments are open, too. While we are continuing to de-densify the campus and are asking many employees to continue working from home, I hope we will have some in-person presence at each department or functional area to serve our residential and in-person students. If you have questions about staffing levels, please be in touch with your supervisor or area vice president as soon as possible.

I want you to understand the power and influence you have as one person on this campus to do your part in helping to take care of others and yourself. Each of us as a member of this community has the responsibility to do the right thing and to watch out for others at all times. It’s the Monmouth way. If each of us does our part, then we can enjoy a safe, healthy, and productive academic and student experience during these trying times. In the words of Helen Keller: “ I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And, because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach our to HR or to your supervisors. I hope to see many of you at Fall Convocation later in the week. Thank you again for everything you are doing for our students.

Pat 

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

Revised Fall Reopening Plan

Dear Monmouth University Students & Families:

As I committed to you on Thursday, we have carefully reviewed Executive Order No. 175, which New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law on August 13. I also joined other New Jersey college and university presidents in a meeting with Governor Murphy to gain additional clarity on the executive order, which allows for in-person instruction to resume in New Jersey. With this new clarity, we have decided that we will return to a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online delivery for the coming fall semester.

We understand that the rollercoaster of COVID-19 preparation, planning, and adjustment in recent weeks has tested the resolve and emotional reserves of our students, their families, and our faculty and staff. I assure you that at every juncture of this incredibly complex and ever-changing crisis, we have tried to use the best available public health information to make the best possible decisions, and then to communicate those decisions to you.

Executive Order No. 175 has prompted a number of key changes for your experience this fall:

Fall Course Schedule. We have worked to restore much of the fall course schedule from 10 days ago, comprised of a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online courses. However, there are some differences, so please log in to WebAdvisor and check your course schedule and the delivery modality of your courses. While we will not be able to completely satisfy the preferred schedule of every student (some students would prefer all courses to be online and some students would prefer all courses to be in person), our advisors and department chairs stand ready to answer any questions about schedule adjustments.

Campus Living and Learning. The new State guidance allows for many of the living and learning options we had always hoped to offer this fall:

  • Dining: Dining services will be available to all students.  In addition to an array of menu options in our dining locations, a new mobile ordering app will enable students to order their meals in advance. Meals ordered via the app will be ready for takeout, with additional outdoor space available where students can sit and eat. A limited amount of indoor seating will also be available, subject to social distancing protocols.
  • Computer labs: Computer labs can now be open as long as users maintain social distance and observe other health and safety protocols.
  • Library: The Guggenheim Memorial Library will be open to students, but 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 during the fall semester.
  • Residential Life:  If you have reconsidered your decision to defer or cancel your housing, you may reinstate your room assignment for the fall by emailing reslife@monmouth.edu. Residential halls will still follow all previously described community standards.

While these modifications are welcome, let me be clear that Executive Order No. 175 does not in any way relax the extensive safety requirements and protocols we have previously communicated to students, faculty, and staff. The health and safety of our students – and of those who serve them – remains our highest priority.   

Tuition Payment Deadline Extended. We have extended the billing deadline to Friday, August 21, so that students and families have a little extra time to review and ask questions about the updates to our reopening plan. As a reminder, we will honor requests for full refunds for housing up until the day before the student’s scheduled move-in, and tuition and fees are fully refundable through September 15, one week after the start of classes.

We know things have changed rapidly.  First-year and transfer students are invited to join me on an open call on Tuesday, August 18, at 7 p.m., while returning students are invited to join me on Tuesday, August 18 at 8:30 p.m. to discuss our revised plan and answer some of the questions we did not have time to get to on our previous calls. First-year and transfer students should register for the Zoom meeting through your applicant portal, while returning students should visit our registration page. Until then, please feel free to address your questions to our team at FallRestart@monmouth.edu.

In closing, thank you for your confidence and trust during this extremely challenging time.        

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy

Dear Members of the Monmouth University Community:

Monmouth University has implemented a new Title IX Sexual Harassment policy in response to new federal Title IX regulations. In May of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations mandating how colleges and universities must investigate and adjudicate sexual harassment cases under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities. As a result, like all educational institutions that receive federal funding, Monmouth was required to amend its policies related to sexual misconduct by August 14, 2020.

The new policy was developed with input from various stakeholders including students, faculty, and staff. The policy has been added to the Sexual Misconduct & Title IX website and additional information will continue to be added to the website.

The previous university policies prohibiting sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment all remain in effect.  Conduct of a sexual nature that previously constituted a violation of University policy will continue to constitute a violation of University policy. The conduct may now be adjudicated under the new Title IX Sexual Harassment policy if it meets certain criteria such as specific jurisdictional requirements.  Conduct that does not meet the criteria to be adjudicated under the new policy will continue to be adjudicated under the existing university polices against sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment.

Some important features of the new Title IX Sexual Harassment policy include:

  • Live hearings with the option of different locations and the use of remote technology;
  • Live cross examination conducted by parties’ advisors;
  • Parties who do not wish to participate in the University’s formal disciplinary process may choose to participate in a voluntary informal resolution process; and
  • Applies to incidents that occur on-campus or during a university program or activity within the U.S.

Most features of the University’s previous policies related to sexual misconduct will remain the same, including:

  • University policies continue to apply to off-campus sexual misconduct between members of the University community or on University-sponsored programs or activities (including study abroad or conferences);
  • The preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) standard continues to apply; and
  • Individuals may still access supportive measures (such as Letters of No Contact, academic support, or housing changes) with or without participating in a formal investigation or adjudication.

The Office of Equity and Diversity is open and is functioning remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone impacted by sexual misconduct of any type is encouraged to contact the Title IX Coordinator, Nina Anderson, at nanderso@monmouth.edu or (732) 571-7577 to make a report and/or obtain information or assistance.  The office is located in The Great Hall, Room 304.  Alternatively, you may send an email to TitleIX@monmouth.edu.

Monmouth University is committed to creating an environment where all individuals feel safe and supported.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy
President

Reopening Update: NJ Executive Order

Dear Students:

Earlier today Governor Phil Murphy announced that in-person instruction at colleges and universities in New Jersey would be permitted.

The full executive order, which will be released tomorrow, August 13, will provide us much greater detail on his announcement.  We will carefully review the executive order to determine if changes to the previous State guidance might affect our reopening plan.

Additionally, I will be joining other New Jersey college and university presidents tomorrow evening for a meeting with Governor Murphy that I hope will allow me to gain further clarity in our planning efforts.

Thank you for your patience, once again, as we navigate this rapidly evolving situation. At each juncture of the COVID-19 health crisis, we have done our level best to make the best decisions possible based on the best information available, and we will continue to do that.

I promise to communicate any updates to our fall semester planning to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick F. Leahy President