March 17, 2021

Princeton and Rider Intend to Welcome Back Students for Fall

By Anne Levin

Princeton and Rider universities have announced plans to substantially expand on-campus activities for fall 2021.

All undergraduate and graduate students will be expected for in-person instruction at Princeton next semester, and faculty should assume a return to in-person classes on campus for the coming academic year, the University said in a March 11 letter to the campus community.

A letter sent by Rider to students, faculty, and staff this week said extensive in-person teaching, residential housing, and on-campus activities are planned, starting in the fall. The goal is a return to normal operations.

But both schools caution that it is impossible to know just how extensive the resumption of pre-pandemic life will be. 

“Returning to in-person operations in all of our activities will be a complex process guided by public health experts, state regulations, and logistical realities,” the letter to the Princeton University community reads. “Some restrictions will undoubtedly extend into the next academic year.”

The letter continues, “We want students, faculty, researchers, and staff back on campus so that teaching and learning can return to our classrooms studios, and labs. We also want students engaging in as full a residential lie program as possible, taking part in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that allow them to learn and building community.”

Earlier this year, Princeton welcomed back all undergraduates who wanted to return to campus. The students who chose to come back had to sign a strict social contract outlining rules for social distancing and other pandemic-related measures. Not all of them complied.

The letter from Rider, written by President Gregory G. Dell’Omo and Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs DonnaJean Fredeen, says plans for the fall semester depend on how state and federal regulations evolve. But they do not anticipate academic courses being offered in hybrid or remote formats.

“In essence, courses would revert to their pre-pandemic format,” reads a press release about the announcement. “In-person classes would once again be available in person. Online courses would continue in that format only if they were available that way before the pandemic.”

Rider intends to have more residential students and
on-campus activities in the fall, using face masks and other safety measures as needed. The University will announce “a gradual return to work plan for employees and implement it over the next several months and beyond.”

On the Princeton campus, summer programs will remain remote, for the most part. Any typical on-campus instruction, including the Freshman Scholars Institute, the Scholars Institute Fellows Program, and the Princeton University Preparatory Program, will remain virtual for the summer.

Staff working remotely will return to campus on a rolling basis. All should anticipate being back no later than the start of the 2021-22 academic year. No events or gatherings should be planned until they are allowable under current campus policies. That means no conferences, meetings, or symposia on campus can be planned as yet.

Both universities thanked their campus communities for their patience. “None of us could have predicted the year we’ve had, and none of us can fully predict what lies ahead,” reads the letter to Princeton students, faculty, and staff. “We are confident, though, that with your support we will be able to provide a meaningful and rich on-campus experience for the upcoming academic year.”