Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses such as the common cold or more severe illnesses. The coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China had not been previously detected in humans or animals and much is still unknown about it. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
Rutgers convened the COVID-19 Task Force under the Office of Emergency Management to develop plans that anticipate probable scenarios of COVID-19’s effect on the university. The situation continues to evolve and remains fluid. If you have questions, email them to the Task Force at email@example.com.
Planning for Fall 2020
An Update on COVID-19 Planning at Rutgers
May 13, 2020
Members of the Rutgers Community:
I hope this message finds you in good health and in good spirits. I am writing today to provide you with an update on the University’s preparations for a gradual return to campus and to inform you about our developing plans for fall instruction.
We are all focused on reimagining our university as we navigate the many unknowns of our current situation. The complexity of our federal and state responses to the virus, the uncertain progression of the pandemic, and the unpredictable pace of developing vaccines and therapeutics mean that we cannot yet make definitive statements about specific plans.
As we look to the fall semester, our planning teams are working closely with incoming president Jonathan Holloway in developing plans that prioritize community health and safety, that ensure robust academic offerings, and that further our essential mission of teaching, research, and service. Our overarching goal is that Rutgers operates with the excellence of the academic experience you rightly expect.
A preliminary plan for returning to campus will be shared with our community in the coming weeks. That plan will outline the safety requirements and the process for preparing our facilities and our employees to return to work safely.
All of our plans for returning to our campuses rely on social distancing, augmented by our growing capacity to test for the presence of the virus and for previous virus exposure, and conducting contact tracing when new positive cases are identified. We are fortunate that some of the most important advances in COVID-19 testing in the country have occurred here at Rutgers, and we are well-positioned to facilitate robust testing, tracking, and tracing.
At RBHS, Rutgers Health has already begun to expand in-person ambulatory service delivery. As in most areas of the country, elective procedures were suspended at the outset of the outbreak to free up all available resources for COVID-19 patients. As inpatient capacity becomes available again, non-urgent procedures are now being re-scheduled. Outpatient activity will increase with social distancing, and continuing travel restrictions will necessitate reliance on telemedicine as a major means of delivering care.
Since the pandemic outbreak, our research enterprise has been limited to only the most critical activities. In consultation with our faculty, we have developed plans to reopen laboratory research activities in a staged manner, allowing new safety protocols for social distancing, environmental hygiene, and cleaning. The goal for this plan is to have a majority of on-campus research activity functioning by August 1. We will share these plans with the broader research community within the next two weeks.
Research activity is closely linked with the training of graduate students, and a careful analysis is in progress on methods that will enable timely completion for graduate students who rely upon campus resources.
Of utmost importance, a rigorous, thoughtful planning process involving the faculty and faculty leadership is under way for undergraduate education. Since the COVID-19 landscape is still fluid, a number of scenarios for the fall are being actively considered. These include:
- A traditional in-person opening to the academic year, with minimal adjustments;
- Beginning the fall in a hybrid state, where some activities can be held in-person, but where state or federal guidelines still limit gatherings and business operations;
- Beginning the fall remotely, while transitioning to a more traditional operating model during the term; and
- A full remote semester.
While our preference might envision Rutgers classes to be in-person and for our dorms to be occupied at the start of the fall semester, the most likely scenario at this point is a hybrid model of in-person and remote education. The degree to which we can operate fully in-person will depend on the course of the pandemic and on the federal and state requirements that remain in place to mitigate the virus.
Our planning process prioritizes student, faculty, and staff safety, and is focused on the creative uses of academic spaces to accommodate in-person instruction, the specific needs of certain disciplines such as music and the performing arts for campus infrastructure, and the need for models that allow for a combination of face-to-face, remote synchronous instruction and asynchronous remote engagement.
Please recognize that the final decisions regarding many of these issues can only be made as more information becomes available over the next 6 to 8 weeks. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught us at home, in our communities, and at Rutgers, it is that we must be flexible and be prepared to adjust. In light of this necessity, we ask for your understanding and patience.
Students, please know that Rutgers will be prepared for whatever scenario comes, and that we will do everything we can as an institution to see you, in-person, in the fall.
I look forward to sharing more information in the next few weeks, and in the meantime, I wish you and your families good health.
Dear RBHS Colleagues:
During this time of unprecedented interruptions, we commend the RBHS faculty, learners, and staff for their resiliency, creativity, and flexibility while they maintain and continue one of our signature missions as an academic health center: research.
Although certain wet lab-based activities are by necessity reduced in scope and scale, we have the ability to pursue our mission through creative avenues that many of you are already undertaking. This is essential as we prepare for the eventual full operation of our research enterprise, and continue to grow the RBHS research discoveries for the future. We are actively working on measures that will permit the gradual return of the research workforce, particularly the wet-lab graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty who have suffered the most interruption of their research efforts. In collaboration with the Rutgers Emergency Operations Committee, we hope to unveil a program in the near future.
While support from some funding agencies may be on hold, NIH remains fully funded. This is an ideal time to submit an extra NIH grant, for your next project(s). Further, funding opportunities for many new and diverse COVID-19 research projects are available from several NIH Institutes. Dry bench research, manuscript submission (original, reviews, commentaries), data analysis, grant writing and development of new collaborations offer fertile opportunities for ongoing and new explorations. For those less familiar with dry-bench research, we encourage you to consider resources including the Rutgers University Biostatistics and Epidemiology Services Center (RUBIES), and the variety of services offered through the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science including the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Core, the Community Engagement Core, and data sets available through the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research.
Related to COVID-19 research, we are delighted that the Rutgers University (RU) Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2) has launched and is serving as an important hub for such efforts. We extend our appreciation to the Center Director (Dr. David Alland) and associate director (Dr. Henry Raymond), in addition to Drs. Amariliz Rivera and Jason Yang who are overseeing essential operations of CCRP2. As a testament to the amazing grassroots interest in COVID-19 related research, the recent pilot grant RFA garnered 97 applications; they will be reviewed shortly. These applications, coming from across RU, cover the entire spectrum of Basic and Translational Science, Clinical Trials, Diagnostics, Environmental and PPE Contamination, Public Health / Epidemiology, and Technology Development / Resource Building, Therapeutics, and Vaccine Development. We are actively working to raise funds to enhance COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related research support.
As you continue planning and performing your important research across disciplines, please remember to keep abreast of funding opportunities that are distributed by RU. Also, if you aren’t already subscribed, you can consider linking with the NIH regular listserv for funding opportunities and with the helpful NIH-related updates provided in the NIH Open Mike blog. There are several additional federal and nonfederal funding opportunities that we plan to circulate on a regular basis.
While devastating, this pandemic may bring us together in ways that we had not previously considered, growing our research efforts in both breadth and depth and creating new and productive collaborations. We are reminded by the example Sir Isaac Newton set, with some of his most impactful discoveries made while working at home during the Great Plague of London. As Christine Caine is quoted, “When we feed our faith, we starve out doubts.” We salute and thank you for your patience and for making the best of this situation, and relay our heartfelt appreciation to our healthcare workers who are risking their lives for our safety.
Kathleen Scotto, Vice Chancellor for Research, RBHS
Bishr Omary, Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, RBHS
Brian Strom, Chancellor, RBHS
Updated May 13, 2020, 1:10 p.m.
Campus Operating Status
Rutgers is open. Some services and facilities may not be operating or may be operating on limited schedules. Click on the following links for up-to-date information at:
Rutgers University–Camden, Rutgers University–Newark, Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Summer Courses and Activities
The only University-sponsored courses/programs/activities that will take place this summer on the Camden, Newark, and New Brunswick campuses will be done via remote technology. There will be no in-person classes, programs, camps, conferences or other activities through at least August 14. Information related to fall orientations and intercollegiate pre-season athletic activity will be forthcoming. This cancellation does not apply to RBHS clinical programs and activities; please check with the relevant RBHS office to ascertain the status of RBHS summer programs, courses, and activities.
Read the full message from April 2 about summer courses and activities.
Summer Session 2020 Is on Track
Barbara Lee, senior vice president for Academic Affairs, announced that the 2020 Rutgers summer session will proceed as scheduled. Because of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, instruction for all courses will be offered remotely. Registration is open.
Read the full message from March 26 about summer classes.
Updated March 24, 2020, 4:00 p.m.
Change in Admittance Procedures for All Rutgers Libraries
Effective March 17, 2020, admittance to all Rutgers University Libraries will be limited only to users with current Rutgers IDs.
While this decision was not made lightly, the Libraries have an important responsibility to ensure that our students, staff, and faculty have healthy environments in which to learn and to work. As popular gathering spaces in our local communities, the Libraries must take into consideration the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State of New Jersey, and Rutgers University to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This includes adopting best practices for social distancing and limiting the amount of people who can occupy their physical locations at any given time.
For the latest updates on library services and support during this period, please visit libraries.rutgers.edu/covid-19.
Updated March 20, 2020
Update on Leave and Telecommuting
As part of our continued efforts to advance measures to support the health and well-being of our community, the university has formalized the COVID-19 Telecommuting and COVID-19 Paid Leave (CPL) process and guidelines. These guidelines are effective immediately and will be in place through April 30, 2020. These measures are in concert with guidance provided by the State.
Read about the guidelines in Senior Vice President for Human Resources & Organizational Effectiveness Vivian Fernández’s message to the University Community.
Updated March 18, 2020, 4:24 p.m.
Operating Status of Rutgers Libraries:
We understand questions have been raised about the decision to keep Rutgers libraries open to our students. The primary reason the libraries are open is that the libraries are essential to educating our students while the university remains open and operating.
The libraries are critical to our ability to meet the directive in Executive Order 104 that mandates that all in-person classes at all universities be suspended and converted to online instruction. The university libraries, located across all campuses and throughout the state, provide access to the internet through nearly 1,000 computer terminals. Access to the internet through these computers is essential for students who for economic or other reasons do not have access to the internet in their homes.
Read the full message with the steps Rutgers has taken to provide library access to students with the health and best interests of our staff, students, and faculty foremost.
Important Update on Courses, Events, and Commencement:
President Robert Barchi announced Rutgers is suspending all in-person instruction, with the exception of clinical instruction, for the remainder of the spring semester. The president also announced all events scheduled at the university through the month of May are suspended, including Rutgers Day and commencement ceremonies at all campuses.
Read the president’s full message from March 17, which also provides information on room and board, and support for academic continuity, research continuity, telecommuting, and leave flexibility for issues related to COVID-19.
Operating Status of Rutgers Libraries (March 18, 2020)
Important Update on Courses, Events, and Commencement (March 17, 2020)
Message to Rutgers Alumni and Friends (March 17, 2020)
Card Access Changes on Campus (March 17, 2020)
Rutgers University–Newark Update from Chancellor Cantor (March 16, 2020)
Update on COVID-19 at Rutgers (March 15, 2020)
Food Availability through April 3 at Rutgers University–New Brunswick UPDATED (March 15, 2020)
Additional announcements can be found on the Communications page.
Impact to NJMS
In accordance with Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 (coronavirus), and its impact on our community. The university is providing updates via a dedicated website, coronavirus.rutgers.edu.
Please visit the following pages for pertinent information for key members of our community.