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Updated plans in response to coronavirus

Thank you for the cooperation and understanding you have shown as we’ve adjusted the rhythms of our campus in response to the evolving threat posed by COVID-19. Our goal remains to complete the semester while protecting the health of our community both on and off campus. I am so grateful for the creative, prudent, and flexible thinking you are bringing to help us realize this goal.

The situation has changed significantly since I wrote just two days ago. Because of this, the college is compelled to adjust its plans.

After careful consideration, TCNJ will now require all students to remain at home from March 23 through April 5. During this period, classes will meet virtually, as was previously communicated in my Tuesday message and elaborated in Wednesday’s follow-up by Interim Provost Keep.

Exceptions to this housing ban will be limited to:

  • students with housing insecurity or accessibility issues;
  • international students;
  • students whose home is in an area with extremely limited internet connectivity;
  • students with other significant extenuating circumstances.

To apply for an exception, please complete this form. A committee will review these requests and will provide information regarding your access during Spring Break, the week of March 16.

We will continue to monitor the epidemic and the guidance of state and local health officials. As the situation is constantly changing, students should prepare for the possibility that online instruction will be extended beyond April 5. Please pack accordingly when leaving for Spring Break.

Residence Life will be in touch directly with residential students who have already left for break and need to return to their rooms to retrieve items. Students displaced from residence halls during this two-week period following Spring Break will have the opportunity to apply for a room and board credit.

This is a special time of year for our community—especially seniors—and I appreciate how heartbreaking these changes are. In hopes that we can complete the academic year and preserve some non-academic aspects of the spring semester, we are currently looking only at the near term. We will make decisions about the future as this unfolds. Please check our COVID-19 website for the latest updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Let me publicly thank our talented and diligent staff members for the exceptional work they have done in helping manage this unprecedented crisis. Your well-being is especially important, which is why TCNJ will adopt Governor Murphy’s guidelines for state employees as clarified by the state Civil Service Commission.

Specifically, TCNJ will permit employees:

  • who are diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home without using accumulated sick leave;
  • who have been exposed to the virus, and are thus either required to self-quarantine or recommended to stay home, to do so without using accumulated sick leave;
  • to stay home without using allocated sick leave in the event of the closing of their child’s school or child care center.

In all cases, appropriate documentation will be required. Employees should coordinate with their supervisors when requesting an accommodation. In addition, the college will permit all offices to implement work-from-home policies and flexible scheduling, and temporarily re-designate employee assignments as needed.

Each of us has an obligation to help ensure our campus and neighboring communities remain as safe as possible. The facts are simple: By having fewer people on campus, we decrease the potential health risk to the larger community. Your cooperation represents a vital gesture of care for those who would be at heightened risk if they were exposed to the virus. We have a responsibility to take these precautions. I am so grateful for your generosity and understanding as we navigate these uncertain times.


Kathryn A. Foster