To the College Community:
We are currently in the planning stages for a return of faculty and students to campus in the fall semester and are pleased to provide you with an update. According to the guidelines set forth by executive order from the Governor, the College is continuing to operate in stage 2 of the State’s Recovery Plan. As a reminder, in stage 2, we offer classes on campus that have some type of hands-on learning component that must be achieved by the students for successful completion of their courses. Currently, nursing, science, arts, television, and criminal investigations classes are meeting on campus.
Our goal for the fall semester is to return most classes to the Toms River campus, with limitations. We will plan optimistically and adjust as necessary. Unfortunately, our plan cannot extend to the Southern Education Center and other satellite sites. They will remain closed due to the limitation of space in those facilities.
Based on announced COVID vaccine distribution schedules, we expect that the State will move past Stage 2 by the fall semester, allowing us to offer additional in-person instruction on campus in a socially distanced manner within established restrictions and other safety measures. We expect that a limited number of students will be able to return to campus at one time and there will be a need to address classroom arrangements and capacities. Classes will be held by the assigned faculty member with a limited number of students in the room. The remaining students will connect synchronously to the class lecture, rotating to on-campus instruction as practical. The number of students that can attend each class in person will vary depending on the size of the room. Capacity limits will be set for each classroom in accordance with State guidelines.
All stages of the State’s Recover Plan include the provision that students be provided with the option of participation in class via remote instruction. The return of classes to the campus in the fall will require new technology to be installed in the classrooms. Should a student choose not to attend the on-campus sessions, the student will be able to log in remotely to the class session with the use of this real-time interactive technology.
We are currently assessing the equipment that will be needed to allow for interaction between students and faculty in a synchronous manner. Many classrooms will be equipped by the beginning of the fall semester, and installation will continue in remaining classrooms throughout the semester.
In addition to returning classes to campus, a plan will be developed for the return of staff to support faculty and students. Several options are being considered, including limiting office occupancy at any given time by staggering employee days and hours on campus. Each of the vice presidents is considering the most efficient and effective work schedules for their areas.
As always, our primary concern continues to be the health and safety of our students and employees. There is still much safety planning that needs to occur and final decisions are dependent on State guidelines. However, our current practices and protocols have proven to be effective and most will be continued, while new measures will be added as required or shown to be best practices. We anticipate students and College personnel will be required to wear face masks at all times and follow all other State and CDC recommendations.
We can all expect our fall semester to look and feel much different than ever before. But we are moving in the right direction by opening the campus in the fall for the safe return of all faculty, staff, and students in whatever capacity will be permitted by the State.
As we have more detail, we will continue to share it with you.
Jon H. Larson, Ph.D.