Rutgers announced in October 2020 that it would allow an increased number of students to attend classes in person and live on campus in the Spring 2021 semester. University spokesperson Dory Devlin discussed the health and safety measures Rutgers is implementing in response to additional students returning to campus.
The Daily Targum previously reported that up to 3,124 students would be able to live in suite-style or apartment-style housing on the New Brunswick campuses in the Spring 2021 semester. Devlin said the University is now housing approximately 2,350 students on campus, whereas it housed approximately 850 students in the Fall 2020 semester.
In-person instruction opportunities are measured by number of sections rather than courses, she said.
“We have 328 sections out of almost 13,000 open to face-to-face instruction,” Devlin said. “The availability does not indicate how many students take advantage. The number of sections in the fall was (approximately) 70.”
The Targum previously reported that the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the Mason Gross School of the Arts were among the schools looking to increase in-person courses due to having degree requirements that could not be readily fulfilled online.
Devlin said the decision to allow more students on campus was influenced by student demand, low coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positivity and transmission rates as well as results demonstrated by the University’s testing and contact tracing programs.
The University is operating in accordance with public health guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Jersey Department of Health along with numerous additional protocols to help ensure the safety of the Rutgers community, she said.
These protocols include increased cleaning of highly touched surfaces, reduced residence hall occupancy, on-campus quarantine spaces, closing of in-hall fitness centers and closing or modifying of lounges and common areas to support physical distancing, Devlin said.
Rutgers transportation follows guidelines such as the requirement of face masks, driver isolation and bus disinfection every 24 hours, she said. There are also signs throughout the campuses promoting safety measures.
“Rutgers community members are reminded repeatedly of our shared responsibility to wear a face covering, watch your distance and wash your hands,” Devlin said.
She said students living on campus will take part in the University’s testing program and will receive weekly testing for COVID-19. In addition, the University has recently applied to become a vaccine distribution center in preparation for vaccinating Rutgers community members when supplies are available.
“Our campus community’s safety, health and well-being remain our top priority, and all decisions are made with this as our guiding principle,” Devlin said.