July 9, 2020

To Returning William Paterson Students:

Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. With this commitment at our core, we have decided to begin the Fall semester on Monday, August 24, one week earlier than originally planned, and to complete the semester by Thanksgiving. 
As you have likely heard, many health care experts are predicting a resurgence of COVID-19 in late November at a time when the seasonal flu and other ailments often surface. An early completion to the semester will help reduce health risks to members of our community by reducing the number of people interacting on campus during a period of heightened concerns about health.
Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to affect our daily lives and create uncertainty for all of us. Fear of the unknown is understandable; however, we believe that a universal commitment to following all health and safety guidelines on the part of the campus community – students, faculty, and staff – will result in a safe and academically outstanding learning experience for you and your fellow Pioneers.
We have been working hard and creatively to ensure a meaningful and rewarding semester for all of our students. We will preserve in-person interactions with faculty and classmates, particularly for freshmen and students in lab and studio settings, to the extent that we can within health and safety guidelines provided by the State and the Centers for Disease Control. 
Our academic plans include the following: 
  • Freshmen cohort and select other courses will, to the extent possible, be scheduled in spaces sufficiently large for full class social distancing during on-campus classes.
  • All other previously scheduled on-campus courses will utilize a hybrid approach – partly online and partly on campus, or, in limited cases, where specific State or federal exemptions for instructors apply, some courses may be wholly online. In all cases, on-campus sessions will adhere to social distancing measures in the classroom. In most cases, this will be achieved by dividing students in a particular course into two smaller groups for separate on-campus sessions. The on-campus portion will involve meeting once weekly, or once every other week, with the rest of the students online. Some courses will be set up such that the instructor teaches from the classroom to a portion of the students while being livestreamed to the half of the students working remotely through the use of newly-installed classroom webcam technology. The balance of the course will then be online.
  • Courses that were scheduled as fully online prior to the pandemic will remain fully online. Hybrid courses scheduled prior to the pandemic will adjust their on-campus component to meet social distancing requirements.
  • A few classes may integrate one additional Saturday session during the semester to ensure students receive all the instruction that they need from the course.
Your individual faculty members will communicate directly with you about the specific plans for your classes as we approach the start of the semester. If you have other general questions about the academic plan for the Fall Term, please contact . The latest information and updates will continue to be posted to the University’s COVID-19 website . 
The coming semester on campus will undoubtedly have a somewhat different feel, with the required use of masks and daily personal health monitoring by all students, faculty, and staff – actions designed to ensure everyone’s well-being. We will also continue to make decisions based on the latest data, the most up-to-date science and the best guidance provided by state and federal officials. Together, we will make the adjustments necessary to keep our community as safe as possible during this unprecedented time. We are looking forward to having students and faculty back on campus this fall and we are confident that our team effort will lead to a satisfying and productive semester for all. 
Until then, I hope the rest of your summer is safe and enjoyable. 
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD