2020-21 Academic Year
Following the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020, FDU pivoted to remote instruction and operations for the remainder of that semester. The University formed three task forces to focus on the 2020-21 academic year and reopening the New Jersey campuses of the University: the Task Force for Academics, the Financial Task Force, and the Task Force for Campus Re-occupancy and Operations. The University’s task forces developed detailed policies and procedures that enabled FDU to fulfill its educational mission while placing the greatest priority on safeguarding the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the entire community.
FDU’s Plan for Reopening Its New Jersey Campuses was developed in accordance with state guidelines, including the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education’s (OSHE) “Restart Standards for All New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education,” and aligned with the stages of New Jersey’s phased plan titled “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health through Public Health.” New Jersey Executive Order (FDU submitted its plan to the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education on July 17, 2020.)
FDU formed a University Steering Committee to oversee implementation of the plan, monitor compliance, and help respond to changing conditions. In addition, the University formed the following plan implementation committees, which informed and advised the Steering Committee: Academic Planning, Health and Safety, Facilities, Student Experience and Residential Housing, and Athletics.
Health and Safety
FDU’s health and safety measures throughout the year closely followed federal, state and local government guidelines. Among other initiatives, FDU implemented requirements for testing, contact tracing, face coverings, quarantine and isolation protocols, and physical distancing – all toward both safeguarding the FDU community while continuing to fulfill our education mission.
The University required all students, faculty, and staff to complete a COVID-19 training program and to do daily self-screening using the CampusClear health app.
In addition to these measures, other accommodations and practices were in place in classrooms, libraries, labs and throughout the campuses. Signage was installed throughout the campuses to clearly mark points of entry and exit, while also marking safe distances, when necessary.
Hand sanitizer dispensers and Plexiglass shields also were strategically placed around the campuses. In addition, University facilities teams increased cleaning throughout the campuses on a frequent basis, especially in high-traffic areas like residence halls.
For the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters on the New Jersey campuses, FDU began the semester with only remote instruction for the first three weeks and then transitioned to a select number of in-person courses, with more in-person courses available in the spring than the fall.
The fall semester began earlier than normal, and the fall break was canceled in order to conclude the semester on November 24 before the Thanksgiving holiday. Expanded winter session options (with significant discounts available) were provided for students.
In the spring, the normal spring recess was canceled but new break days were introduced throughout the semester. Final exams concluded on May 14.
Summer courses in 2020 and again in 2021 were offered via remote learning.
FDU’s faculty did an outstanding job transitioning to remote instruction when it was necessary. FDU also invested significantly in adding technology to the classroom with microphones and screens for Zoom use, and mobile units to enable Zoom technology to be used in various settings.
Unfortunately, all study-abroad programs, including Wroxton College, were suspended for the 2020-21 academic year.
FDU’s Vancouver Campus opened for Fall 2020 with staff on site, but with the majority of course delivery through remote learning, and select face-to-face instruction for specific courses and students. For the Spring 2021 semester, Vancouver academic programs continued to be delivered predominantly through remote learning using synchronous Zoom technology, as well as through the scheduling of asynchronous online courses.
In the residence halls on the New Jersey campuses, every effort was made to reduce the density of living spaces, and most rooms were singles with only limited double occupancy rooms. Residence hall regulations were updated with various health and safety protocols.
Dining operations closely followed safety procedures as indicated by the CDC, state, local, and University guidelines as appropriate. FDU also expanded options for food delivery through Grubhub and pick-ups, as well as offering more prepackaged offerings and Grab-n-Go options.
Student services offices provided virtual meeting options for students as well as on-campus appointments when possible.
The University utilized online platforms to help students stay engaged with one another. For example, the Dean of Students offices launched a partnership with Campus Bubble, a digital platform where students can find out more about what is going on in the FDU community. Students can also meet fellow classmates, join groups, share their interests, and find out about scheduled activities.
While intercollegiate sports were suspended in the fall, the Knights and Devils were both engaged with various levels of training. Most sports resumed intercollegiate competitions in the spring.
Tuition and Finances
Understanding the difficult financial challenges faced by students and their families during the pandemic, FDU froze the undergraduate tuition rate for the academic year 2020-21 and again froze the rate for the next academic year, 2021-22. That marks three consecutive years of the same tuition rate. In addition, the University simplified and reduced the costs of many of its graduate programs.
Through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, many students were eligible for funding to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus. The University dispersed nearly $6 million in emergency grants to students.
In addition, FDU shifted the focus of its capital campaign, “One University Many Dreams,” to fund scholarships to support students in these challenging times.
Return to the Workplace
FDU modified operations to protect the health and well-being of our campus communities. Many operations were remote throughout the year, but many employees also were on campus regularly or intermittently based on their roles and responsibilities. Before returning to campus, and each day throughout the semester, employees who came to campus were required to use a self-screening health app to determine COVID-19 symptoms or exposure.