By Emmy Liederman
President Kathryn Foster announced in a campus-wide email on Friday, March 20 that courses will be moved online for the rest of the semester and Commencement will be postponed.
“In these circumstances we have determined with disappointment yet necessity that we must extend remote instruction through the end of the spring semester 2020 and cancel all remaining campus events through the end of this semester,” she wrote.
Foster clarified that those who were previously approved to stay on campus “to complete classes remotely amidst minimal campus services” and “all-but-essential staff” will continue to work remotely. As for graduation, Foster has a vision for a “remote yet intimate” celebration.
“Seniors will receive their caps and gowns in the mail by late April and we are developing creative ways to share a virtual, multi-modal experience,” she wrote. “Start thinking now, for example, of the clever and personal ways you will decorate and show off your caps.”
Before the announcement, many members of the senior class prepared themselves for this unexpected end to their college career.
“I am distraught that this virus could possibly define my senior spring semester,” wrote Jordan Mattoon, a senior elementary education and history dual major, in a Signal survey. “I am extremely upset to think that if this situation does not get resolved soon, I will have already said goodbye to some of my best friends and will have lived my last moments as a college student. Although I realize the situation could be worse and people I know could be infected and possibly killed by this virus, it is still very upsetting that my final semester in college is being overtaken by a worldwide crisis.”
Students remained hopeful that even if the spring semester was conducted remotely, the graduation ceremony would still take place in May. A Change.org petition for this cause secured over 1,000 signatures. But when Governor Phil Murphy tightened policies for social distancing and remote instruction, the decision no longer fell in the College’s hands.
“Governor Murphy has directed colleges and universities in New Jersey to implement remote instruction until the state health department deems it safe to return to in-person instruction,” wrote Foster. “With the case I announced yesterday, COVID-19 has affected the campus community directly. Given the rapid spread of the virus we must anticipate that there will be more cases to come affecting students, faculty and staff.”