By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez
It’s official, most of the courses taken this fall semester will be virtual regardless of New Jersey’s coronavirus status.
President Christopher Capuano sent out a president’s update on Monday, Aug. 10, announcing that the upcoming fall semester will be primarily online — introducing amendments to various aspects of campus life on FDU’s New Jersey campuses.
The previous update on July 31 pushed move-in dates from Sept. 4 to Sept. 14, which coincided with when classes would start. The extension of the mandatory online period was due to the fact that New Jersey had not yet reached Stage 3 of Gov. Phil Murphy’s “Road Back” plan.
Capuano stated that only a limited number of courses will be in-person starting Sept. 14 — such as labs, a few clinicals and others that require hands-on instruction — as long as they follow state sanitization and safety guidelines.
He said, “As I’ve noted in earlier communications, we are working in unprecedented circumstances but we remain committed to fulfilling our core mission of providing a high-value education for our students.”
The recent announcement comes under the expectation that Stage 2, in which in-person work and activities are strictly limited, will remain in place longer than the month of August.
Capuano clearly said that the changes are still contingent on the state’s plans.
“As I have emphasized in each update, our plans to return to full in-person instruction have been based on Governor Murphy advancing the state to Stage 3 in the state’s recovery plan,” he said.
“Clearly we are not there yet and may not get there soon.”
More in-person courses may be considered if New Jersey moves to Stage 3 before Sept. 14 or soon after. Capuano expects that the fall semester will remain mostly virtual, and adjustments have been made for that possibility.
More Changes to Fall Courses and Campus Life
Campus network and technology have been enhanced, since many student services will now proceed online with some in-person appointments. Advising, financial aid and enrollment services were a few examples of departments listed in the email.
“Many of our faculty have been very busy this summer taking online instructional workshops and tailoring their lessons to remote instruction in preparation for the possibility that remote instruction could be necessary,” Capuano said.
While the semester will be mainly online, FDU still offers campus housing for students who need it. A strict zero-tolerance policy will be enforced in which those who violate safety protocols will be dismissed from their residence hall. No outside visitors will be allowed, and testing will still be conducted on the grounds as stated in the fall reopening plan.
Returning students must go to their MyHousing account to apply for a housing and/or meal plan, which has been adjusted for COVID-19 handling procedures. Those students will receive a 15% discount on their housing fees, as well as an additional 15% discount on their selected meal plan.
To comply with Stage 2, there will be no indoor dining, and grab-and-go food options will be provided so residents can eat outside or in their respective dorms.
“In addition, we are working on a delivery service so that students can order food from their favorite restaurants as part of their meal plan option,” Capuano said.
Exact information on the details of residence life and dining will be announced at a later date. The Office of Housing and Residence Life will reach out to students who expressed a prior interest.
Students who no longer wish to live on campus will receive a full refund for their housing, meal plan and any deposit that has been paid.
As for student services, club events and activities will proceed virtually. Sports coaches, however, may still arrange practices for student-athletes.
No matter the instruction method, tuition and fees will remain the same this semester. The FDU website and its department categories will update with the latest information.
With the changes so close to the start of the fall semester, Capuano said, “I again so appreciate your understanding and patience as we navigate our way through these challenges.”