Announcement on Reopening of Campus, Fall 2020

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We’re writing to you to underscore President Eisgruber’s news about our plans for reopening campus in fall 2020. 

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic means that we’re far from returning to business as usual. We believe we can bring half of our undergraduate students back each semester, as long as those of you in residence observe the public health guidelines and University policies required to sustain the well-being and to protect the health of our community.

While we make our decisions in the best interests of your academic and co-curricular experience, we urge you to remember that you are part of a thriving community that supports your presence on campus. Faculty, staff, community members, and many others interact with you when you’re in residence.

Your actions and choices when you’re with us next year will have an enormous impact not just on your life and education, but on the health and welfare of every person with whom you come in contact.

Our top priority next year must be public health. Our staff take pride in being highly responsive to your individual requests about academic opportunities, the quality of residential life, and co-curricular and social experiences. This commitment remains important. But the pandemic requires us to focus on the whole community, which means we won’t always be able to respond affirmatively to individual requests when they conflict with the public good.

This fall will look very different at Princeton. Because of the pandemic, Princeton is making a temporary and unprecedented exception to its residency requirement. Enrolled undergraduate students are not required to be on campus. Even if you’re invited to be in residence, you’re free to enroll for the year but live at home or elsewhere instead. We want to be sure you understand clearly what it will mean to live on campus for a semester:

  • Most of your instruction will continue to be remote, except for those occasions when faculty are able to teach a seminar or a precept or a lab for students who are on campus. The exceptions to remote teaching will be announced as plans become clearer throughout the summer.
  • Courses held residentially will require social distancing, face-coverings, and special care in entering and exiting buildings and classrooms.
  • Each student will have their own room and movement around colleges and dormitories will be restricted.
  • Every person on campus will be required to wear a face-covering indoors at all times, except when they’re alone in their own room. Face-coverings may also be required outdoors, especially when interacting with other community members or if mandated by the state of New Jersey.
  • Every student must sign a social contract that articulates their commitment to following health and safety protocols and to observing the behaviors designed to promote the well-being of everyone in our community.

In other words, much will be different in our world. We are, however, committed to providing you an excellent, rigorous educational experience. Our faculty have been working hard this summer to retool their courses for remote formats, consulting with the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning on the most innovative, engaging methods for delivering the curriculum online.

McGraw also provides guidance to students on learning remotely, which we encourage you to read. We’ve had more time to think through course formats and meeting times, small group work, and other remote facetime opportunities with instructors and among students.

Our Campus Life teams are working hard to continue to find meaningful ways for students to connect with one another and with campus whether you’re in residence or off campus, and while you’re learning remotely or in person. Our departments and programs are devising book groups and other virtual experiences to engage students in the educational pursuits to which we’re all committed.

We know you still have many questions. We’re determined to answer them all, but we ask for your patience as the full picture for next year unfolds. Public health protocols in New Jersey change regularly and determine many of the University’s plans. Very soon, we’ll have specific information about housing, dining, leave-of-absence requests, financial aid, and all the other areas in which you might have concerns or questions.

Please take the time to read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) carefully. The answers we’ve posted represent most of what we now know. We’ll be updating these FAQs regularly with new information. In the weeks ahead, we’ll also provide opportunities for you to discuss your individual circumstances and concerns with the appropriate adviser or office. We plan to host webinars and Zoom meetings; to schedule virtual office hours; and to use social media to share relevant and new information.

Regardless of whether or not you’re on campus, we look forward to your continued participation in our community. Your Princeton experience as a student during the Covid-19 era remains unprecedented. Your Princeton experience in a historical moment of unprecedented attention to systemic racism in the United States also makes this coming year unique and important.

Stay with us, as our superb faculty and staff address the health pandemic and race and our social systems from the perspective of deep knowledge, great expertise, and abounding compassion. We need you to carry knowledge forward, from campus to well beyond our gates.

We hope you and your friends and family are healthy and safe. You’ll hear more from us as this summer progresses toward the fall semester.



~Dean Jill Dolan

~VP for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun