NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The Rutgers University Board of Trustees has begun talks of reopening all of the school’s campuses in September 2021.
On December 17, Rutgers’ Board of Governors met for more than two hours. The re-opening plan was not discussed, at least not during the public portion of the meeting.
However, a few hours later, Rutgers’ Executive Vice President Strategic Planning and Operations Antonio Calcado gave a presentation to the Board of Trustees that included the university’s definitive plans for re-opening.
Because the news came in the less prominent of the two governing board meetings, it does not appear to have been reported by any media outlets until today.
In the Trustees meeting, conducted using the zoom videoconferencing software and broadcast by New Brunswick Today, Calcado stated that Rutgers would plan for a full reopening in the fall.
“We are not an online university. We are here to serve our students; we are here to give our students a college experience. We are built for collaboration; we are built to feed off each other. That’s the way our university was built.”—Antonio Calcado
The campuses have largely been depopulated since March, when COVID-19 began to spread through New Jersey.
There have been roughly 1,000 Rutgers staff members laid off, and another 3,700 furloughed. Although Rutgers is down approximately $180 million, the university has given out roughly 6,300 awards of emergency funds worth $9 million in Fall 2020 alone.
Currently, Calcado and the board are unsure whether or not vaccines will be mandated for students and faculty.
“We do not have ability to mandate something along these lines at this point,” Calcado said in response to a question from the Trustees.
Calcado mentioned a three-phased plan for getting COVID-19 vaccines out to New Jersey residents, a plan that is already underway.
Asked about the potential size of the incoming Class of 2025, Calcado said the numbers will depend on how the virus impacts society.
“Our goal is to bring back 100% of our faculty, staff and students in the fall of 2021,” he told New Brunswick Today.
As for how this large-scale effort will get done, Calcado hinted that it might be a busy winter for Rutgers strategists: “The mechanics and how we operationalize that will be determined through our planning process during the first quarter of 2021.”
“The plans will be scalable and equitable and will take into consideration public health guidance, New Jersey requirements and the safety of our community.”