By Camille Furst
Seton Hall University announced on May 22 that its doors will open in the fall for a hybrid, flexible (“HyFlex”) plan that offers both in-person and online instruction, according to an announcement on its website. The university is the first higher education institution in New Jersey to announce a decision for the upcoming semester. Classes will begin on Aug. 24 and continue until Nov. 24, at which point students will return home for Thanksgiving break to conclude the semester online.
According to the announcement, Seton Hall made the decision after “having incorporated input from the state and local public health experts, and by adhering to the best scientific and governmental guidance.” Testing and tracing are expected to be implemented for the duration of the semester.
“Work is underway to modify campus environments, including academic buildings, dining spaces and residence halls, to support physical distancing and uphold health protocols,” the announcement said. “Residence hall rooms will reopen with reduced density and specialized cleaning procedures.”
Meanwhile, the College has not yet informed students whether or not its campus will be reopen for the fall 2020 semester. College President Kathryn Foster announced in a campus-wide “Corona-Missive” email that surveys will be sent in the coming weeks to first-year students, returning students, faculty and staff to “ascertain preferences for TCNJ’s fall 2020 education, either on-campus or online.”
In a previous email sent to the campus community on May 22, Foster said that two main scenarios are now being planned: online and on-campus instruction. Previously, the president said a delayed face-to-face scenario was being considered, but “that didn’t prove practical.”
“The aim of our planning and actions is to be prepared for either of these scenarios,” Foster said.
Meanwhile, students at the College have varied predictions for the upcoming semester. According to a survey sent out by The Signal, students range from having little confidence to feeling very hopeful for on-campus instruction. On a scale from one (not confident) to 10 (extremely confident), 27 percent of students chose “6” while 22 percent chose “3.”
While there is no official arrangement for what the campus will look like in the fall, Foster said in the email from May 22 that the College is waiting to make the decision in June, “benefiting in the meantime from insights and lessons from virus responses at other institutions and places.”