The University has worked continuously since the beginning of the global outbreak of COVID-19 to protect the health and welfare of students, faculty and staff and to fulfill our educational mission. We continue to act out of an abundance of caution to do all that is possible to reduce the risk for our community and to help our larger region in this challenging time. The following summary highlights some of the most critical updates and actions taken during the spring and summer of 2020.
University-wide Measures Taken
- On March 10, FDU announced its decision to suspend face-to-face instruction on the New Jersey and Vancouver campuses and switch to remote (online) learning for all classes, effective March 16. In-person classes are also suspended at FDU’s Wroxton College in England. Remote learning continued through the spring and summer.
- Many FDU events and meetings (including Admitted Student Days, athletic competitions and alumni events) were canceled through the remainder of the spring semester and the summer.
- The campuses remained open, but supervisors implemented their business continuity plans to enable employees to work at home. Certain employees, including public safety, facilities, technology and residence life continued to report to campuses.
- Students living on campus were advised to return home or seek alternative housing. Some residential students who do not have alternative housing were granted permission to remain. (The University issued credits for prorated spring semester room and board costs and refunds if those credits exceeded any remaining balances). Limited services remained in place on campus such as dining (grab and go only). The Wellness Centers also remained open as did public safety.
- Effective March 20, most buildings on the New Jersey campuses were locked with access restricted to public safety and facilities only.
- FDU celebrated the Class of 2020 with an online ceremony on May 18 to confer degrees. This formal and important moment commemorated the hard-earned achievements of our graduates. This virtual ceremony did not take the place of an in-person ceremony. We hope to be able to have an in-person ceremony should circumstances allow at a later date or we will invite our 2020 graduates to attend the May 2021 commencement ceremony. To view the ceremony, download the program and see congratulatory messages and related coverage, go to https://www.fdu.edu/for-students/commencement/.
- All classes for Summer Sessions I, II and III were offered through remote learning (online) only. In an effort to enable students to continue their studies during the summer, FDU allowed undergraduate students to take one summer course at regular tuition cost and a second or subsequent summer course(s) at 50% tuition. In addition, all summer graduate courses were 50% tuition after the first three credits at regular tuition. This applied to any of the summer 2020 sessions. (This policy applied to students on the New Jersey campuses and the following graduate programs were exempted from this policy: PharmD, Five-year PsyD in School Psychology.)
- The University enacted a series of cost-saving measures to address the fiscal challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. These included salary reductions for the president, senior team and the President’s Cabinet, as well as a hiring freeze and a freeze on new capital improvements. The University also implemented a furlough program based on two categories (those who could not do a substantial portion of their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic or those whose jobs were no longer critical because of the impact of COVID-19).
- FDU applied for and received a CARES Act stimulus award that provided support for the University and nearly $3 million for students directly as emergency grants. FDU’s detailed reporting information on the CARES funds is available on the website. The University also created its own Student Emergency Fund for those who need aid. To contribute please go to https://support.fdu.edu/giving/students.
- Resident students who had left earlier in the semester returned to campus in a staggered manner to remove their belongings. The move-out program was conducted with necessary safety measures in place and proceeded smoothly.
- The University conducted many important events virtually including a virtual experience for admitted students and a virtual student orientation for incoming students. A virtual Charter Day was also launched.
- The University formed several task forces with faculty and staff representatives to plan for the fall semester including one on academic planning, another on campus operations and one on financial issues.
- Recognizing the financial impact of the pandemic on many students and their families, the University froze the undergraduate tuition rate at the 2019-20 level, and there will be no tuition increase for the 2020-21 academic year. In addition, the University simplified the structure of its graduate tuition rates and reduced the costs of many of its graduate programs.
Travel Measures and Restrictions
- FDU faculty, staff, and students were informed on February 28 that they may not travel to those countries that have been issued a Level 3 Warning by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for study abroad, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, recruiting or athletic competitions. A registry was developed for those seeking to travel overseas for any FDU-related activities. All faculty and staff traveling overseas for FDU-related activities were required to notify the Office of Risk Management (email@example.com).
- Due to the continuing spread of the virus, on March 10, FDU expanded its travel restrictions and University-sponsored travel (both international and domestic) is now only permitted with the approval of the provost or other senior officer of the University.
- FDU suspended or canceled all spring semester study abroad activities. Those studying abroad, including those at Wroxton College, have all been told to come home. In addition, FDU canceled study abroad trips through the end of July 2020. Unfortunately, the cancellation now extends through the fall.
- FDU implemented policies designed to safeguard the community following the guidelines recommended by health authorities including those concerning social distancing. For example, it was decided when the outbreak emerged that faculty, students, staff and other visitors to FDU who traveled to a country with a Level 3 Warning may not come to campus until 14 days from the date of departure from that country, and only then if they are symptom-free since their return. Faculty, students and staff must isolate themselves in their homes or other off-campus locations during that 14-day period.
- FDU also decided that faculty, staff or students who have been in contact with persons who are known to have the coronavirus should isolate themselves in their homes or other off-campus locations for 14 days from the date of exposure. For example, if you are living in the same household or suite with an individual who is self-isolating because of potential exposure to the coronavirus, you also should self-isolate for 14 days from the other person’s first possible exposure to the virus. These precautions also apply to travelers who have been to locations (e.g., arenas, restaurants) that are identified by governmental authorities as being a source of infection.
- Health resources were provided on the Human Resources website. Employees and students covered under their respective medical plans through the University have access to seek medical care from the safety of their homes. Virtual visits allow members to have an online visit with a licensed physician, including the need to prescribe medication. Student visits are free of charge and employees pay their regular office visit copay.
Transition to Remote Learning and Operations
- The Provost worked constantly with the deans and school directors to support faculty and students to move to remote teaching only and provide guidance and support in a number of ways. Direction from the Provost and faculty resources have been shared and posted on the FDU coronavirus website.
- The Provost shared advice and instruction for preparing for remote learning and concerning available modes of delivery for instruction. Virtual meetings (via Zoom) were set up as well to provide guidance and address questions.
- FDU also suspended all on-campus research activities effective March 19, and provided guidelines on how to secure research equipment, labs, etc.
- The Provost also worked with faculty to develop a policy that gives students the option to elect Pass/Fail or A-F grading for each course they took during the spring.
- The Information Technology team worked to acquire and make available online solutions such as Zoom for classes, conference calls and meetings, and Echo 360 lecture capture tool. Additional laptops and cell phones were distributed, and network bandwidth shaping done to accommodate new traffic patterns. The IT team developed resources for Remote Learning and Operations. Articles were quickly developed and published on a dedicated webpage at https://it.fdu.edu/remote-learning/.
- The Provost provided an option for tenure-track faculty to stop their tenure clock and take a one-year extension.
- The University created a series of workshops to help faculty enhance their online teaching skills and provide courses that comply with all regulations for teaching students with disabilities remotely.
- A series of communications were provided to employees with information on HR concerns, IT issues and other operational pieces such as purchasing procedures and mailroom operations when working remotely.