By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez
Courses in science, arts, nursing, hospitality, computer science, social sciences and more will be offered in person in the spring semester, Campus Executive Steve Nelson said in an email on Nov. 11.
The Equinox contacted Nelson to learn more about the precautions that will need to take place before in-person learning.
“FDU outlined measures that will be taken in classrooms as part of the reopening plan established prior to the fall semester,” he said.
The start of the spring semester begins Monday, Jan. 25, so much could change between now and then, as well as the very slim possibility of a widely available vaccine.
When asked about the possibility of a second wave, Nelson said that FDU is working on returning to campus as conditions and regulations allow.
“We also must acknowledge the fact that we operate under the guidelines of New Jersey and as such, should the state change what it allows for indoor gatherings or classes, we will abide by those guidelines,” he said.
“We must also understand that the health and safety of our FDU community is our primary concern and we will not jeopardize that by holding on-site classes when circumstances warrant that they be moved to virtual settings.”
Nelson said that face masks are required to be worn at all times on campus. In select classrooms, approved seating will be marked in accordance with social distancing and disinfectant wipes will be provided for both student and faculty use.
FDU Facilities and Auxiliary Services will be responsible for disinfecting all classrooms and laboratories every day, and staff will also be encouraged to wipe down common surfaces nearby.
All the in-person courses listed will have a hybrid instruction mode available for students who are registered but cannot attend in person, Nelson said. Hybrid instruction will be a Zoom session delivered from an in-person class.
This accommodation is an effort by the University Health and Safety Committee — responsible for coronavirus precautions and protocols for the fall semester — to ease FDU Metro back into on-campus learning, he said.
According to Nelson, many classrooms have the updated technology to allow synchronous Zoom sessions. While the opportunity is offered to students who want it, he said that for some courses, the offer may be limited.
“We cannot guarantee that all classes can be taken via Zoom, as some courses have hands-on material that cannot be duplicated virtually,” he said. “We always do our best to offer all scheduled courses, particularly those that fulfill specific degree requirements.”
The announcement comes at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is spiking in New Jersey and across the nation.
Bergen County is deemed “at risk of an outbreak” with an infection spread rate of 1.26 as of Nov. 13, the nonprofit Covid Act Now reports. This calculation represents the average number of people infected by one infectious individual. Any measure over 1.0 indicates the number of infected people could increase rapidly.
As of Nov. 13, there have been more than 26,000 positive COVID-19 cases in the Bergen County area, over 1,700 in Hackensack and 1,300 cases in Teaneck, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
For the semester, through Nov. 11, there have been four resident students and seven off-campus students testing positive for COVID-19 for the Metro campus, none last week, and one new positive test among faculty and staff, the university reported Wednesday in its weekly health and safety email.
Nelson encourages students to reach out to the Dean of Students office at MetropolitanDoSoffice@fdu.edu for information on campus resources.