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Rutgers schools begin announcing Spring 2021 semester plans

The School of Communication and Information will be going fully remote next semester, while Mason Gross School of the Arts will have a hybrid model of instruction.  – Photo by

With this semester’s classes ending in just more than a month on Dec. 10, individual schools within Rutgers have begun announcing their plans for the Spring 2021 semester.  

Jonathan Potter, dean of the School of Communication and Information, said all classes in the school will be online for the upcoming semester, according to an email sent yesterday to School of Communication and Information students. 

“We did not make this decision lightly,” Potter said. “Rest assured that our faculty and staff, who regret not being able to see you in person, will be completely focused on delivering an outstanding educational experience and will continue to engage with you remotely."

Jason Geary, dean of Mason Gross School of the Arts, said the school is planning to offer some in-person courses that are essential degree requirements for film, dance, theatre and music, while classes in the Department of Art and Design will be held fully online, according to an email sent on Oct. 30 to Mason Gross students. 

“Although we are thrilled to deliver this news of expanded on-campus activity, please rest assured that no students will be required to be on campus, and that students who are unable or unwilling to do so will be offered remote alternatives,” he said, according to the email. “Also note that this virus is unpredictable, and that if at any time it is deemed unsafe for us to move ahead with these plans, we are prepared to resume entirely remote instruction.” 

Marc Handelman, chair of the Department of Art and Design at Mason Gross, sent an email to students in the department on Tuesday and said the number of daily coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in New Jersey is currently higher than at the beginning of the semester, which played into the school's decision making, along with multiple other factors.

“Among these (factors) include if the instructional nature of a course affects a student's ability to graduate on time, the health implications for high-risk faculty and staff and where the opening of only a handful of in-person courses makes it more difficult for students who would have to commute,” he said, according to the email.  

Handelman also said many studio classes in the Department of Art and Design run for 6 hours, but the current maximum running time for an in-person continuous class is only 3 hours, according to the email.

“Despite all of the inspiring work, creativity and resilience that you and the faculty have shown this semester, we understand how disappointing this news may be for some,” Handelman said.

To better accommodate Art and Design students, Geary said Mason Gross will work to have more studios and facilities open than are currently available. 

“We also expect that campus facilities and equipment currently available to students will continue to be so in the spring and in some cases may become newly available, including, but not limited to, practice rooms, recital halls, conference spaces, studios, workshops, theaters and labs,” he said, according to the email. 

Mason Gross will also be hosting a Student Town Hall next Wednesday at 7 p.m. for students to speak with Geary and discuss the plans for the spring, according to the email.

The Daily Targum previously reported all academic units have been working alongside Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy to plan for the upcoming semester. 

Molloy did not say when each school would announce their individual plans, but that more classes will be offered in-person and that beginning Nov. 9, students will be able to access the schedule of classes.

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