Frist Campus Center and Firestone Library will open in some capacity this fall, Dean of the College Jill Dolan said at a webinar for parents and families on Tuesday, July 28.
Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun added that campus gatherings will be limited to five people, students will be able to report others’ Social Contract violations anonymously, and students not invited back on campus, including athletes, will neither have access to campus buildings nor attend practices.
Calhoun, Dolan, and several other administrators addressed questions about campus spaces, testing and quarantine policies, in-person instruction, and visa applications.
Campus spaces and Social Contract enforcement
According to Dolan, Frist Campus Center will open in compliance with social distancing measures and Firestone Library “will also be available for students to study in, though it might be on a sign-up basis rather than a walk-in basis.”
Calhoun added that the Dillon Gymnasium remains closed until the State of New Jersey reopens gyms. “And once they do permit us to do that, [University officials have] already started to reconfigure that gymnasium and our fitness center so appropriate distancing can happen,” Calhoun said.
Common spaces within residential colleges are currently closed, but the University is hopeful that “by the time we invite students back, we’ll be in phase three and have more access to spaces on campus,” Calhoun said.
When asked if the University will limit student gatherings, Calhoun confirmed groups of no more than five are allowed.
“We’re limiting, for those that are on campus, the number of students that are also living on campus that have access to them in their rooms to no more than two,” Calhoun said.
No student organizations are allowed to plan in-person events, and “professional staff” will plan and approve gatherings.
“Our expectation is that the weather should be pretty good while we are on campus, so we want to create spaces outside to encourage students to gather in appropriately sized groups outdoors where it is healthiest and safest to be,” Dolan said.
Calhoun also outlined the Social Contract, a document committing students to follow health and safety guidelines, complete online training, and monitor their health.
In terms of enforcement, Calhoun said that students will be able to report their peers for violations — including “anonymous reporting.” Reporting is not mandatory, but penalties for violations range from a reprimand to being asked to leave campus.
Students who return to campus during an unassigned semester are considered part of the general public, administrators added.
“We are clear about protecting the community from too much coming and going that makes us vulnerable to the virus,” Calhoun said. “Students who are not invited back are not invited back.”
“The whole reason we’re having two classes back in each semester is so we can de-densify the campus,” Dolan said. “Students who haven’t been invited back and start expecting access to the campus defeats the purpose of de-densifying the campus.”
She added that the University wants students living in the general vicinity to comply with the Social Contract, which states that students away from campus “are expected not to visit.” Sophomores and seniors who do not comply may not be invited to campus in the spring, according to Calhoun.
Returning, quarantining, and isolating
The University will collect saliva samples for testing, according to Robin Izzo, the executive director of environmental health and safety. The location for testing remains unannounced.
Izzo said the University will provide “at least three face-coverings” to each student.
The administrators also noted that students on campus must quarantine for 14 days if they travel from one of the currently-36 hot spot states and territories on the travel advisory list, even if they receive a negative test result.
While the state policy considers self-quarantine voluntary, the University is mandating the rule for returning students. If students travel outside of New Jersey to a travel advisory state and return to Princeton during the course of the semester, they will need to re-quarantine.
Students can self-quarantine in New Jersey or another state not on the list at their own costs, but early move-in to the University is not allowed.
Although isolation and quarantine are interchanged regularly, the former refers to students testing positive or waiting for results while the latter describes temporary confinement due to increased risks of exposure, usually on airplanes.
Students in quarantine will stay in their living spaces and receive prepared meals. For suites with shared bathrooms, the University will supply cleaning supplies.
“[Students] will be able to leave their spaces to go for a walk outside as long as they are maintaining social distancing and wearing a face covering,” Izzo said.
For students in isolation, the University Health Services plans to initiate small groups to provide a sense of community.
Dolan also recommended that students moving in “pack light” given the fluidity of the situation.
The University will continue offering health plans to students studying domestically, internationally, or virtually, according to Calhoun.
Academics and ICE regulations
The University has yet to provide a clear response on the possibility of in-person instruction this fall, which will depend on the student constituents of the class, the faculty’s willingness to teach in person, and the enrollment numbers.
“We really won’t know exactly what classes will be offered in person until enrollment stabilizes, probably around mid-August,” Dolan said.
While most classes are remote, Dolan added that an “in person class would have to be for junior or for first-year students, and there are a number of classes that fit that bill.”
Three days after the webinar, the Davis International Center announced that some freshman seminars and many writing seminars will convene in person. For first-year students, the University also started the Entryways Program, which links students and faculty in a colloquium series and provides small seminar instruction — components of which will convene in person, according to the Davis Center.
Since students require eight square feet around them, the University also needs large classroom spaces and proper ventilation. As an example, Dolan stated that a 15-person precept would require a classroom that typically hosts 50 students.
“Many of our faculty feel that … given those conditions remote teaching will actually be more effective,” Dolan said. “There is going to be a marked difference between the classes offered in the fall versus how they were offered in the spring because we’ve had a lot of time to think creatively and hone the tools that will bring to bear on that work.”
Recently, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commonly known as ICE, announced that first-year international students with fully-online course loads cannot enter the country. Concerned parents wondered how the University will allow their children to enter the United States.
“The entire situation has been very challenging because [ICE] keeps announcing these rules without publishing the rules, so we are constantly working to make sure that we have the latest information,” Brent Colburn, vice president for communications and public affairs, said.
Several days after the webinar, University Spokesperson Ben Chang told The Daily Princetonian that the “Office of the Dean of the College and the Davis International Center have carefully reviewed both the ICE guidance and the Fall 2020 first-year curricular offerings and believe there are enough planned in-person opportunities for new first-year students who arrive by August 30 to comply with current guidance.”
A link to the full webinar is available online.