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Over 40 working groups are working on ‘range of possibilities’ for fall semester, U. says

<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

On Thursday, June 25, the University announced that over 40 faculty and staff working groups are helping evaluate “a range of options for next semester.” The statement, which came in an email to the campus community, noted that “[s]tudent input from undergraduate and graduate student groups” informs many of the faculty and staff teams.

The committees are organized around topics ranging from public health, campus safety, and University services, to lab research and the student experience. Planning groups include athletics, campus services, case management, communications and protective behavior, global mobility and operational planning, modeling, online education, physical modifications, phased resumption of research, public health management, signage and wayfinding, testing strategies, and virtual community, among others.

“Their work will inform the decision of the Academic Year 2021 Coordinating Committee, which has been evaluating options for the undergraduate teaching program this fall,” the email read.

The message further reiterated the University’s intent to release a decision regarding undergraduate instruction for the fall semester in early July. This statement is in line with an earlier announcement from President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83. 

Some on-campus operations have already resumed, including limited experimental laboratory work in science and engineering, as announced by Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti on June 17. Furthermore, as of June 8, Princeton University Library has resumed book pick-up and in-house digitization services for faculty, researchers, postdocs, and graduate students.

“During this pandemic, the University’s commitment to providing a safe and healthful environment for its employees, students, and visitors requires us to reimagine how we conduct nearly all aspects of campus life,” said Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety Robin Izzo in the University’s statement. “In the past few months, scores of people from dozens of departments have been working tirelessly to be prepared and do all that is needed to keep us safe.”

Other schools across the Ivy League have started to announce plans, but few have released hard details. On June 25, the University of Pennsylvania announced that students would be permitted back on campus under a “hybrid instruction model” in which all students will be housed in private bedrooms. 

On June 16, Harvard University’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announced in an email that the Cambridge school is considering three options, outlining scenarios for including ‘minimal density,’ ‘moderate density,’ and ‘full density’ education. Neither Harvard nor Yale University, which is considering a “residential/remote” system according to The Yale Daily News, have officially revealed plans for the fall semester yet. 

Colleges and universities across New Jersey are split when it comes to decisions on fall 2020 reopening plans. Seven schools with over 5,000 students have announced plans with a range of in-person, hybrid, and virtual options, whereas 10 schools — including the University — are currently awaiting an official decision.

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