Rider University offers students variety of options for starting fall semester

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After announcing that Rider University would only offer remote instruction for the fall semester, university officials are changing course and will offer students a choice of in-person classes, remote instruction or a hybrid plan.

Rider University President Gregory Dell’Omo initially announced on Aug. 11 that the university would only offer remote instruction, because New Jersey was not ready to move into Stage 3 of the statewide re-opening plan. Stage 3 would have allowed some in-person instruction.

But following Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order issued on Aug. 12 to allow colleges and universities to resume some in-person instruction, Rider officials rescinded the earlier decision and will permit students to take part in remote, in-person or hybrid instruction.

“Earlier this week, Gov. Murphy issued an executive order, effective immediately, which lifts many restrictions for higher education institutions currently in place under the state’s Stage 2 guidelines. The order allows for in-person instruction and indoor dining on campus,” Dell’Omo said in an Aug. 14 letter to the Rider University community.

“We view this executive order as good news for our community, as it allows us to implement the ‘Resolved and Ready’ re-opening plan as it was intended,” Dell’Omo said.

The plan has been tweaked to reflect the changes.

Under the university’s revised Resolved and Ready re-opening plan, all classes will be held remotely for three weeks after the start of classes Aug. 31. However, performance-based classes – music, theater and dance – will continue to be held remotely for the fall semester.

Between Sept. 21 and Nov. 25, all classes will revert to the options outlined in the Resolved and Ready plan – in-person, hybrid or remote instruction. In-person or heavy hybrid – a blend of in-person and remote learning – make up about 20% of courses.

When students return to campus after the Thanksgiving break, all classes will be held remotely through the end of the fall semester. The final exam period also will be held remotely.

Students who have signed up for a dormitory room will be able to move into the dormitory for the fall semester, officials said. Overall occupancy in the dormitories is limited to 65% of capacity.

The resident students will be expected to hold to the university’s shared responsibility pledge, which means they agree not to participate in large gatherings, adhere to quarantine regulations, and will wear a face mask in all indoor locations except for their dormitory room.

Students who will be arriving to live on-campus or off-campus from outside of the United States or from one of the states on New Jersey’s quarantine list will themselves have to be quarantined for 14 days before they join the Rider University community, officials said.

On-campus life will be different than last year, officials said. No outside guests will be permitted in the dormitories. Students may have one guest in their room, and that guest must be someone who lives in the same dormitory. The lounges will be restricted for use, and will remain locked.

Students who live on campus and who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have come into contact with someone who tested positive will be required to go into isolation.

If the student lives within 75 miles of campus, he or she will be required to go home for the quarantine period. If that is not possible, the university will provide a space for the student to self-isolate.

Murphy’s Aug. 12 executive order allows for indoor dining on campus, but capacity and social distancing rules will be enforced. Students may eat at Daly Dining Hall, Cranberry’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s and other on-campus dining facilities, officials said. They may also pick up their meals or have them delivered to the dormitory.

Dell’Omo said Rider University is committed to creating the safest possible environment for students, staff and faculty, but it is a shared responsibility among the school community. Everyone must follow all rules and guidelines and to use extreme care to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection, he said.

“The variables and guidance that promote community health are constantly changing. We are trying to do our best at Rider to accommodate these changes and the unique interests of all members of our community.

“I know our community can rise to this challenge to help create a successful fall semester,” Dell’Omo said.