Five days after the University reversed its original fall reopening plan, announcing that first-years and juniors are no longer invited to campus, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Aug. 12 — allowing schools, colleges, and universities to resume in-person classes if they meet certain requirements.
Despite Murphy’s order, the University has no plans to reverse its new course of action for the fall, due to what Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss described as “a high degree of instability in state regulations and guidance for higher education.”
“Princeton University has had significant communication with the state throughout this process and will continue to work with them as we move ahead,” Hotchkiss wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
Hotchkiss added that “the state of the pandemic around the nation and here in New Jersey” led the University to determine “remote instruction was the right path for our undergraduates this fall.”
“The recent changes in higher education regulations in New Jersey are a positive sign, but based on our conversations with the state, and the restrictions still in place in New Jersey, we do not plan to change our posture for the upcoming semester,” he explained.
Previously, Murphy passed an executive order on March 16, ordering a temporary halt of in-person learning at all schools to protect the “health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey residents.” Limited in-person instruction was permitted beginning July 1 in another executive order passed on June 18.
The most recent guidance — Executive Order 175 — supersedes Gov. Murphy’s previous orders, allowing institutions of higher education to resume in-person instruction after submitting a “restart plan” to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. The order specifies that in-person dining halls are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained.
However, Murphy stressed that “any student who chooses to continue remote learning must be accommodated.”
On Wednesday, state officials emphasized the goal is for as many schools to physically reopen as possible. Public schools will not be permitted to choose to go all-remote unless they cannot meet the enumerated health and safety criteria, in which case they must submit a detailed plan on how and when they will resume in-person classes.
“As many of our colleges and universities have continued offering classes during the summer, in-person instruction may fully resume immediately, should institutions so desire, and so long as social distancing measures — among other protections — are strictly adhered to,” Murphy said at a press conference, stressing that his administration has held “ongoing discussions with the leaders” at colleges and universities.