From:  Andrew Thomas, Senior Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies

To:  Faculty & students, SGS - Newark Health Science Campus (SGS-N)

Update on SGS Operating Status
As you are aware, the operating status of the university is evolving and we continue to develop contingency plans to meet the need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  As part of those plans, we have moved almost all course instruction to online platforms that provide for remote learning.  Whereas previous guidance allowed for small group instruction (up to 15 people), we are now requesting that all courses for SGS-N students be delivered online through the end of May 2020.  For courses extending into June and July 2020, we will continue to provide a remote learning option even if the university allows onsite instruction during the summer months.

SGS-N has also decided that exams will be administered remotely, with online proctoring where appropriate (at this time we cannot confirm online exams for dental school courses, but we are working to resolve this).  On-campus exams may still be administered for individual students in certain circumstances, but our goal is to provide the full range of course instruction and evaluation online.  The intention is to ensure that students who need to stay home or leave the area can complete their educational program on time.

Campus Access
Although there may be some restrictions for entry into other parts of Rutgers, the RBHS research and education buildings used by SGS-N students remain open and accessible.  The SGS-N student affairs office will remain open for now, albeit with reduced staffing, but we request that you communicate by email or phone as far as possible.  Similarly, we ask that where possible students schedule phone meetings with their academic advisors rather than in-person meetings.

At this time, research activities are continuing.  Doctoral students should follow the guidance from my email of March 16 entitled "SGS-N Doctoral Students Update for biomedical faculty and graduate students regarding COVID-19".  Nevertheless, contingency plans are being made in the case that we have to scale down to all but essential research, which may limit access and time in the laboratory.  Therefore, students should be prepared to work on data analysis, papers and thesis writing.  For masters' students trying to complete the 2-credit research rotation, we are developing alternatives in the case that a laboratory or clinical site is not accessible.

Thesis Defense and Candidacy Exams
As communicated previously, thesis defenses can proceed as scheduled with the limit of a maximum of 15 attendees.  Committee members can participate remotely, and if necessary the entire presentation and defense may take place using WebEx or similar.  Candidacy exams can also take place in person or remotely, but we will also allow deferral until we return to normal operations if that is the preference of the mentor and student.

This is a remarkable time, but we are doing all we can to sustain the continuity of education while supporting all efforts to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic.  We thank you all for your patience and cooperation.