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A message regarding campus operations and planning for the fall

The following message was sent as an all campus email on June 18, 2020

To: Princeton University community

From: Provost Deborah Prentice and Executive Vice President Treby Williams

Subject: A message regarding campus operations and planning for the fall

Date: June 18, 2020

Yesterday, Governor Murphy announced a new Executive Order outlining the state’s guidance for higher education in New Jersey.  This guidance sets, among other things, minimum standards that every institution must meet to resume in-person instruction and welcome students back to campus for residential living.

We are in the process of analyzing the new Executive Order and determining how it will impact the University’s operations for the remainder of the summer and for the coming fall semester.  For now, nothing has changed in terms of our campus operations. You should continue to follow the guidance you have received previously. As a reminder, we are still planning to release our plans for undergraduate teaching and learning this fall in early July.

Today’s new guidelines do not determine the University’s policies in regard to students, faculty and staff—they instead lay out what is allowed for higher education in New Jersey, and what standards we must meet to engage in various activities.  Princeton also continues to operate under a number of other state Executive Orders that are not directly targeted at higher education, including those that set standards for workplace safety, set caps for the number of individuals who can attend events, and encourage us to decrease the number of employees that need to be in their offices or on campus.

Princeton will continue to set the policies we believe are right for our community within the guidelines provided by the state, and communicate any changes in those policies with you accordingly. 

We are writing today to remind you of the current status of those policies, what they mean for different parts of our community, and how they may evolve in the coming weeks and months.

  • Undergraduate Students: We have a small number of undergraduate students who will continue living on campus and working remotely through the summer. Though the new Executive Order does allow for in-person higher education instruction, it places a number of restrictions on how colleges and universities can operate.  We are currently analyzing how those restrictions will impact our operations.  These guidelines, in conjunction with unique logistical challenges facing a fully-residential college operating in the age of COVID-19, will form the basis for our plans for undergraduate instruction in the fall.  Those plans will be shared with you and the entire University community in early July.
  • Graduate Students:  On-campus graduate instruction will resume this fall, with many graduate students returning throughout the summer.  Specific plans will vary by program and department, so each graduate student should be in touch with their department to ensure that they have the information they need to return to campus.  Research activities have already begun to resume, with specific guidance determined by the Dean for Research’s office on a case-by-case basis.
  • Faculty:  In accordance with state workplace guidance, faculty members who are able to work from home should continue to do so throughout the summer.  All faculty members should also continue to plan for remote teaching in the fall, since every scenario for undergraduate instruction will require that students be able to complete their coursework online.  Broader guidance on office access will be released in early July in conjunction with plans for the fall semester.

    All faculty members should be receiving specific guidance from their departments and the Dean
    for Research’s office regarding the resumption of on-campus research activity.
  • Staff Members:  Under the policies of the University, and in accordance with state guidelines, we continue to require those members of our staff who can work from home to do so.  Earlier this month, office heads were asked to submit a resumption plan if they have identified work that cannot be done from home that the unit would like to resume this summer. These plans must be endorsed by the cabinet officer and reviewed by Human Resources, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, or the Graduate School before they will be approved.  Staff members who will need to return to campus will be notified by their managers on a case-by-case basis.  You should expect general guidance on working on campus in conjunction with our early-July announcements pertaining to undergraduates and the fall semester.
  • Research Personnel:  The University has created a process to enable the eventual phased resumption of on-campus, laboratory research in a safe and orderly manner.  The process applies to laboratory-based research on campus. Any work that can be done remotely will continue to be done remotely.  Faculty PIs have been asked to develop research resumption plans that ensure compliance with University policies including social distancing, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and disinfecting, foot-traffic patterns, and limits on the number of researchers that can be in a lab at any given time.  Departments are developing plans that cover the safe usage of shared facilities, public areas in buildings, and research infrastructure.  The Dean for Research is reviewing and approving these plans and then working with the departments and PIs to implement them where appropriate.

We want to say thank you again to all of you for your partnership, resilience, and support as we navigate the impacts of this pandemic on our campus community.  This is not the 2020 any of us expected, but we will continue to do everything we can to ensure our scholarly community remains strong and connected during this ongoing crisis.  We especially want to thank those employees who have had to continue coming to campus throughout the past months to support our students and keep our operations running.

In the weeks ahead, we will continue sharing information about the changing regulatory environment in New Jersey, how that impacts our University’s policies, and what the fall semester will look like here at Princeton.  As a reminder, final plans for undergraduate instruction in the fall will be released in early July.  In conjunction with that announcement, we will be sharing detailed information for each portion of our community on how those plans impact you and your daily activities.