Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 12:00
Dear Rider University Community,
After careful consideration, we must announce today that Rider University will move to entirely remote instruction for the fall 2020 semester.
As you know, our Resolved and Ready plan was built on the premise that New Jersey would have moved to Stage 3 of its multi-phase reopening plan by the start of Rider’s new academic year which would allow for in-person instruction. Unfortunately, there is currently no indication if or when New Jersey will move to Stage 3.
While we are pleased to provide clarity with this decision, I recognize it will be met with many emotions, heartbreak among them. I share that heartbreak. So many individuals within the Rider community have put forth great effort over the past several months to prepare a safe and comprehensive restart plan for our students, faculty and staff. However, with so much uncertainty still persisting in New Jersey related to COVID-19, I believe firmly that moving to remote instruction is the best decision for our campus community.
Many of you have asked if we will change our plans regarding remote instruction should the state move to Stage 3 at some point during the fall semester. We have evaluated this possibility and have concluded that moving back to in-person instruction after the semester begins would simply cause too much disruption and confusion. Therefore, no matter if or when the state moves to Stage 3, Rider will continue all remote instruction for the entirety of the fall semester.
Despite our plan for all-remote instruction, on-campus student housing will still be available in the fall semester. All students who have applied and received a confirmation of a fall 2020 housing assignment at this time can continue to live on campus if they choose to do so. The Division of Student Affairs will be sending a very detailed communication this afternoon to all students and families which will provide many answers to your housing and residential life questions. We ask that you closely review that information when you receive it. Our Office of Residence Life is prepared to assist you with any remaining questions or concerns.
This fall we will continue to provide quality student services to meet student needs. Offices will be staffed, as necessary, to support student and operational needs. As has been the practice during remote learning in late spring and summer, all campus offices will also be accessible remotely via email, phone and Zoom interfaces. These include all of our student support services such as the Student Navigation Office, Registrar, One Stop Services, Financial Aid, Academic Success Center, Center for Career Development and Success, Residence Life, Student Accessibility and Support Services, Student Health Center, Counseling Services, and Center for Diversity and Inclusion, just to name a few.
We have confirmed with state officials that while New Jersey remains in Stage 2, we cannot hold any in-person instruction, with only very limited exceptions for a small number of science labs. We are working with the state on the waiver process for science labs now, and hope to have a decision and answers regarding these types of classes soon. We will still also offer all science lab sections remotely for students unable or not wishing to attend in person. All other classes will only be offered remotely this semester. As a reminder, all performance based classes, such as theatre, dance and music, cannot be offered in-person during Stage 2 according to state guidelines.There is no waiver process for these types of classes.
Yesterday we learned that the state has authorized the reopening of computer labs at institutions of higher education effective today. Working within the health and safety guidelines of this new administrative order, we will ensure our computer labs are available to students when the academic year begins.
I want to commend everyone at Rider who is working so hard to develop an engaging experience for our students this fall. Many campus activities and events will continue, mostly in a virtual environment. Whether you are living on campus or not, all students will have the opportunity to take part in both educational and creative programs and events, as well as participate in clubs and activities, just not in person for right now.
At this time, we are unable to answer questions regarding how Rider will operate in the spring. It is our sincere hope that we can be together in person, and we will work collaboratively toward a safe return to campus when the time is right.
I encourage you to continue checking our website for updates and the most current information.
While this is not how we originally envisioned the fall semester, we still remain Resolved and Ready, and committed to adapting to the circumstances posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Rider has spent significant time and resources over the past several months to bolster our ability to offer more effective learning options in a remote environment. Our faculty have been working with the University’s Teaching and Learning Center on course development and design, and participated in several workshops such as how to engage students in the synchronous classroom. Wi-Fi availability has been upgraded across campus, and other software and hardware options have been purchased to enhance learning in the coronavirus environment. Likewise, faculty and staff have been creatively re-designing co-curricular opportunities, including those that are eligible for Engaged Learning points.
These steps and more serve to remind me how grateful I am for our individual efforts and our collective commitment to sustain Rider as a meaningful place to learn, live and work.
Thank you for exhibiting your supportive Rider spirit time and time again. This is what makes our University so special.
I wish you and your families continued good health.
Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.