Caldwell University Restart Plan

Aerial Footage of Caldwell University during Commencement 2014

Cougars Come Together

8/10/2020 - President’s Update – Fall 2020 Semester

Dear Cougars,

I write today to update you on the reopening plan for Caldwell University for the fall 2020 semester. As you may be aware, on June 18, 2020, New Jersey issued Restart Standards for all New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education, providing guidelines for colleges and universities in New Jersey to establish their reopening plans. These plans had to be submitted to the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) at least two weeks prior to the start of classes. Caldwell’s plan was submitted on August 1 after months of work by a team of faculty, staff, and administrators who worked day and night to help us meet the guidelines of the Restart Standards. The plan addresses ten functional areas and is designed to allow us to reopen either in Stage 2 or Stage 3 of New Jersey’s Restart Plan: The Road Back.

We have acknowledged from the beginning that our plans were subject to guidance from federal and state agencies, public health officials and ultimately, the Restart Standards. While we planned for and hoped to open in Stage 3, New Jersey has remained in Stage 2. Therefore, we have determined after much consideration that Caldwell University must open the fall semester under Stage 2 of our institutional restart plan. As we have indicated since the beginning of this crisis, Caldwell will be prepared to reopen in accordance with the health and safety guidelines of whichever stage we are in at the start of the semester. If new guidance is received at a later date which allows us to bring additional students back to campus residence halls, we will revisit our plan at that time.

Caldwell University has always been known for its core values of Respect, Integrity, Community and Excellence, especially as demonstrated in our personal interactions. While this semester and opening will look different, we know we can count on each of you to embrace these values in this changed environment. We must all work together to ensure a smooth opening and as vibrant a campus experience as possible!  Flexibility has been key throughout our dealings with this pandemic, and we must continue to be resilient and nimble. Our plan will continue to evolve based on the impact of changing infection and transmission rates as well as mandates from the federal and state governments. 

I thank all of you in the Caldwell community for your patience and understanding throughout this journey. Your safety and health has been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of all discussions about reopening and operations.  We encourage you to continue to check our coronavirus update website, continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask, and ensure personal hygiene to keep yourself and our community healthy. Working together, we will overcome this challenge and be stronger and more resilient than ever.

Sincerely, 

Matthew Whelan, Ed.D.
President

Please read this document carefully to better understand the impact of this change.

Caldwell University Stage 2 Restart Update – August 10, 2020

Overview

Stage 2 of the New Jersey Restart Standards limits the number of students who may return to the classroom to only those enrolled in certain courses. This requires the majority of our courses to be delivered remotely, except for those that are labs, clinical requirements, technical, or hands-on in nature. Additionally, you’ll notice a slight change to the academic calendar which allows us to end in person instruction and move to fully remote learning after Thanksgiving. When you arrive on campus you will notice signs reminding us of the requirement to observe social distancing, wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer and practice good personal hygiene. Training in dealing with life in the COVID-19 pandemic will be provided. Stage 2 also mandates that we reduce the density in our residence halls and limit the use of common spaces such as lounges and open study areas.  Dining will be limited to grab and go options but with many delicious, healthy and wholesome choices still available. We will continue to offer our normal suite of academic and student support, student services, and student activities remotely, while we prepare to offer innovative outreach to engage our students. There will also be on-campus support for those students living in the residence halls. Please continue reading for further information about these changes.

Academic Information: 

The majority of our courses in Stage 2 will be delivered remotely except for courses that are labs, clinical requirements, technical, and hands-on in nature, and these classes may have remote components as well. Our faculty and academic affairs team have been working throughout the past several months to prepare for this contingency and to ensure continued excellence in instruction. To confirm which of your courses has been designated as remote versus on-campus, login to your MyCaldwell Portal to check your course schedule for the appropriate designations. Courses assigned as ‘Remote’ or ‘Online’ will be designated as such while courses that show a room assignment will be held at least in part, on campus. 

If you have already communicated that you would like to take all of your courses remotely, this will continue to be the case, even if one of your courses shows on your schedule as being offered on campus. If you intended to take some of your classes on campus and are scheduled for an on-campus course, but now prefer to take all of your classes remotely, please email registrar@caldwell.edu.

On-Campus Residence Information 

Currently, the State of New Jersey remains in Stage 2 of Governor Murphy’s Restart Plan. Therefore, as we start the fall semester, capacity in the residence halls must be limited to incoming freshmen and other cohorts defined by the Restart Standards as students with special housing needs.  

Elements of the Stage 2 Residence Life Plan:  

  • Approximately one-half of our designed room capacity will be held for residential students.
  • Residents will include freshmen, out-of-state students who have already completed their quarantine forms, special housing students and Residence Life staff.
  • Common areas/lounges in the residence halls will not be opened per Stage 2 restrictions.
  • There will be reduced occupancy in individual rooms, where possible.
  • Dedicated quarantine and isolation space will be reserved.
  • If at any time resident students are suspected of having COVID-19 or have been notified they were in direct contact with someone who has tested positive, they will be asked to quarantine or isolate at home. At the discretion of the University, isolation or quarantine arrangements may be made for students who cannot travel home for this period.
  • We may require tests for students who are suspected of having COVID-19. 
  • There will be no guests permitted in the residence halls.
  • Additional policy changes pertaining to resident students will be communicated.

Incoming freshmen who already have a housing assignment will keep their space in the residence halls but their physical assignment may change. Any freshmen currently on the waiting list will be assigned housing. The same applies for returning students from quarantine states and countries who have already completed the quarantine forms. The following students will be eligible to apply for special housing for this fall: 

  • Undergraduate students currently living on campus
  • International students
  • Students with on-campus courses or activities 
  • Students who are deemed to have an extenuating circumstance (distance, housing or food insecurities, personal hardship)

If you meet any of the above requirements and would like to live on campus this fall, please complete the Special Housing Application by Thursday, August 13, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Those who apply for housing will be notified on a rolling basis whether or not they are approved but no later than Wednesday, August 19, 2020.  All other housing assignments will be terminated on Friday, August 14, 2020. Once your assignment has been terminated it will take up to 72 hours to be reflected on your student account. For those students who have previously been a part of our vibrant residential community but can no longer be with us for the fall semester, we will create an equitable process to reapply for spring housing that will prioritize those who had housing assignments previously. While we cannot guarantee the same space or roommates, we will try our best to accommodate. 

Dining

Dining will be delivered in a grab-and-go model out of the Dining Hall in the Student Center. The University is working to provide covered outdoor areas where students can dine in community, subject to state limits, if the indoor dining space remains unavailable for in-person dining as it does in Stage 2.

While there are some changes in the way meals are delivered, Gourmet Dining is also working on different access options that may be available long after the pandemic is resolved, meaning that students may be able to use the mobile ordering app in the future. As has been available since our partnership began with Gourmet Dining, there will continue to be access to the nutritionist for anyone who wants assistance with planning or making healthy meal choices. Healthy, nutritious meals will be provided within the to-go options. As a reminder, all on-campus residential students are required to participate in the meal plan as per their housing contract.

Financial Information

The pandemic has devastated individual, local, state, federal, small business and corporate finances, and Caldwell has not escaped this reality. However, we have made significant investments to prepare for the coming academic year including upgrades to our core technology to allow for improvements to remote learning, new classroom equipment, and improved online tools for students, faculty and staff. We have invested in our infrastructure to create social distancing in classrooms and common areas, purchased PPE and sanitizing equipment for student, faculty, staff and administrative use as needed, scheduled additional cleanings for classrooms and common areas, and created limits of how many people can be in different spaces at one time to comply with the state orders.

Course content and learning outcomes are expected to be equivalent regardless of method of delivery. Services and activities will be provided throughout the semester, although the format of many of these will change. Programming is being planned for in-person (as allowable) and virtual settings. Students will continue to have opportunities to be involved with campus activities and leadership experiences. Our facilities will be open to the extent allowed, and alternative methods of service delivery will be offered. The potential for student learning, growth, and development is great, and like any other semester, one only has to take advantage of what is available. The University is working on a reduction to the comprehensive fee, and room and board costs for resident students, for the fall 2020 semester due to the impact of COVID-19 on impacted campus operations. More information on this is forthcoming soon.

Because we know that many families have felt an economic impact due to the current health crisis, we are announcing two options for students to receive some financial assistance based on the impact of COVID-19. First, we are pleased to announce a new “COVID-19 Cougar Emergency Financial Aid” fund, where students with demonstrated financial impact due to COVID-19 can apply for a grant to help offset direct costs (tuition, fees, room and board). Students can apply for this fund online with an application that will be sent to students later this week via Caldwell email. Additionally, eligible students will be able to apply for another round of CARES grant funding right after the start of the semester to offset other costs that are due to the disruption of campus operations. The application will be sent to students during the first week of classes. Finally, late fees on student bills will not be assessed until after the start of the fall semester.

8/3/2020 - President's Letter - Restart Plan

My Fellow Cougars,

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has plagued our area since the Spring, and has spread throughout the U.S., has changed the world, our country, our state, our community and our lives forever. There is no escaping the fact that the world is a different place than it was prior to COVID-19. And while it has also changed much across the landscape of higher education– changes which may be around for some time to come– it has spurred innovation, creativity and technology solutions heretofore unexplored by some colleges and universities. 

The creative and energetic endeavors of our faculty, chairs, associate deans, students, staff and administrators allowed Caldwell to continue to do what we do best–to educate students as individuals and change students’ lives for the better! The situation we face will continue to evolve, as will we, to meet the demands of a new reality. Our teaching and learning processes have, and will continue to develop to handle COVID-19. At the center of this evolution, is the willingness of students and faculty to embrace the changes and do what is necessary to ensure educational continuity for all involved in the safest way possible.

With that, I would like to share with you Caldwell University’s Restart Plan: Cougars Come Together which has also been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE). This robust and thorough plan developed by our Return to Campus Task Force outlines the steps we need to take as a community to ensure we can deliver an education based on the principles of our core values, Respect, Integrity, Community, and Excellence in accordance with public health guidelines. 

Please know that Caldwell is focused on bringing you back to campus this fall, provided we remain able to do so under current state regulations outlined in the OSHE Restart Standards.  The plan details policies and procedures the university will follow based upon recommendations associated with each stage of the Restart Standards. As updates are required or promulgated by state or other agencies we will be prepared to revise the plan at a moment’s notice, make the necessary changes to campus operations and be sure that information is shared with you  

While Caldwell is prepared for an opening in Stage 3, as of today, New Jersey remains in Stage 2 of the Governor’s Restart Standards and may only return to campus classrooms for those students and faculty associated with courses meeting criteria for certain laboratory, clinical rotation, technical, and hands-on instruction or those for which a waiver has been submitted. All other courses will be expected to be delivered remotely, until such time as the state allows us to reopen in Stage 3, hopefully in the coming weeks. In addition, in both Stage 2 and 3 students can move into the residence halls. However, there are restrictions on both the number of students and the requirements for living in the dorms in both stages including fewer students being allowed in the dorm, reduced lounge usage,  mask requirements, and visitor requirements, to name but a few. As we get closer to the start of the fall semester, you will receive more information about which stage we anticipate opening in, and therefore, how courses will be offered as well as other pertinent information.  

Regardless of the stage in which we find ourselves, I wanted to introduce you briefly to some of the other changes you’ll see on campus this fall. Whether it is face coverings (mandatory for all), increased handwashing for 20 seconds while you hum your favorite tune, daily self-health self-screenings and affirmations, social distancing, and the use of barriers to ensure students, faculty and staff minimize the risk of transmitting or contracting COVID-19, our efforts to protect our community are at the center of our plans. We all know the actions of a few can impact many, so it is our shared responsibility to follow the health and safety measures of the plan. 

These changes, and others you may see, will allow us to continue to serve you within the tradition of Caldwell University and treat you as individuals, all of whom can make a positive contribution to the society in which we live.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we address the challenges of the pandemic, while continuing to deliver the nationally recognized education for which we are known. 

Please check the coronavirus update website as well as your Caldwell email often for updates and additional information, which we will post as soon as they become available.

Sincerely, 

Matthew Whelan, Ed.D.
President

Introduction:   

Caldwell University looks forward to welcoming new and returning students to campus in a way that will maximize academic and social experiences in accordance with best practices established by federal and state experts and public health authorities. Our goal is to greet students, faculty and staff back to classrooms and offices that are prepared to support teaching and learning, student services, and administrative functions of the University, while endeavoring to meet the guidelines for restarting instruction as promulgated by local, state and national public health authorities and recommendations from experts. The fall semester of 2020 will be like no other in that the COVID-19 pandemic presents us with unprecedented challenges.  Grounded in our mission to prepare students “to think critically, pursue truth, and contribute to a just society,” and remaining true to our core values of Respect, Integrity, Community and Excellence, our approach will rely on the commitment and collective energies of all members of the campus community in adhering to protocols that have been put in place to help keep people safe and well.  

Caldwell University’s Return to Campus Task Force (RTC) has been meeting tirelessly to develop strategies for identifying and mitigating the risks associated with the  COVID-19 pandemic and to develop policies, procedures and safeguards to protect our community.  The success of our plan will be strengthened by the demonstration of our signature traits, the respect, care and concern for others, that are hallmarks of our University culture. The plan follows the guidance of the NJ Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (NJ OSHE) based upon Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 155.  It is informed by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO),  the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)  and the New Jersey Department of Health.  We continue to monitor this guidance daily.  The RTC referred to the Johns Hopkins OpenSmartEDU COVID-19 Planning Guide and Self Assessment for Higher Education for guidance as well.

As of this writing, New Jersey is currently in Stage 2 of Governor Murphy’s “The Road Back” plan for reopening the state.  Caldwell University’s plan was developed based on the expectation that the state will move to Stage 3 prior to the start of the fall semester, and with the understanding that both the stage and the elements of the stages may change.  Should the state remain in Stage 2, the University will operate within Stage 2 restrictions while continuing to plan for moving to Stage 3, and ultimately, to what the Governor’s plan calls ‘The New Normal’. If the state reverts to Stage 1, protocols for essential employees will be put in place with spaces restricted and closed on campus.