Final exams shift to remote format and campus departures: Memo from Vice President Calhoun and Dean Dolan

Covid-19 text with map of world

December 14, 2021

Dear Undergraduate Students, 

We write to let you know that we’ve decided to shift all final exams to a remote format so that students will be able to leave campus at their earliest convenience. We apologize for the late hour—we want you to have this information as soon as possible.

The State of New Jersey requires anyone testing positive for COVID to isolate for 10 days, whether or not they’re symptomatic. Given that we’ve seen an uptick in cases among undergraduates during the last 24 hours—including suspected cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant—we hope to avoid letting the final exam schedule interfere with students’ travel home for Winter Break. We certainly don’t want you remaining on campus in required isolation through the holidays.

All exams, beginning Thursday, December 16th, will move to a remote format to allow you some flexibility in planning your travel.

Faculty whose courses now have Registrar-scheduled, seated, in-person final exams will have two options:

  1. To turn the exam into a student-scheduled take-home due by December 20; or
  2. To keep the beginning time and date of the Registrar-scheduled exam but administer it remotely. This will require expanding the window in which students can access and take the scheduled exam from three hours to 24 hours to allow you some travel flexibility. The exam itself will still have a time limit of no more than three hours to complete.

You will be updated on the specific details of your final exams by your course instructors. Please be patient as they make these last-minute adjustments.

Should you have any questions about your exams, ask your professor first, and then consult your residential college dean or director of studies. They’ll be able to support you academically as you make this shift in plans. Should you need travel support, do consult your residential college director of student life.

We especially encourage students who use public transportation to travel for Winter Break to consider leaving as soon as possible. If you test positive for COVID before leaving campus, you’ll be required to isolate for 10 days or to travel only in personal vehicles. Public transportation cannot be used if you test positive.

Financial support from the Vice President for Campus Life Hardship Fund will be available should students need help with the cost of changing travel tickets if costs are incurred. You can request assistance by submitting a request.

Because of this increase in cases, the entire Princeton community must now cancel or postpone all indoor gatherings with food, and those where face coverings can’t be worn, effective Thursday, December 16 through Friday, January 7, 2022. Dining will begin offering additional grab-and-go options. The University will revisit its gatherings guidance before January 7th and update our public health policies accordingly.

As we prepare to return to campus for an in-person spring semester, we intend to further mitigate the effects of COVID-19 by instituting a booster mandate for students, faculty, and staff. We’ll require all who are eligible to receive a booster by January 31, 2022. We’ll share details about the requirement this week.

Students in Continuous Housing over Winter Break will be accommodated as planned. If you register for this housing by December 17 (this Friday), we’ll reach out directly with more information. Meals will be served as scheduled and take-out options will be available; social programming will require masks but will proceed. Athletic competitions will also go forward, with some mitigations in place.

We realize this news comes directly on the heels of Dean’s Date and at the very beginning of Exam Period, which we know are the most stressful moments of the semester. Since the rise in our case counts just registered yesterday, we made this decision now so that you won’t have to stay on campus should you test positive.

Of course, if circumstances don’t permit a change of travel plans, you may stay on campus up to December 23 at noon. We hope this new option provides more flexibility for a safe end to the semester.

Do reach out if you have questions. Think through your travel plans and then concentrate on preparing for and executing your exams. And finally, enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season. We’ll see you in January.

Our best,

Dean Jill Dolan & V.P. W. Rochelle Calhoun