University Elaborates on Health and Safety Policies for Fall Semester

Fordham University students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break, according to an email from Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university. As the plan currently stands, students will be able to return to campus in the spring semester. 

McShane said students will have the option to take fall courses online, in person or a hybrid combination of the two. Professors will also have the option to hold their courses exclusively online. Completely in-person classes will be reserved for classes such as labs and performance-based classes. 

“I want to underscore that all of our plans are provisional,” said McShane. “We have no control over the spread of the virus outside of Fordham’s campuses, and less control than we would like on campus. Our plans will always be contingent upon the advice of public health experts and the governor’s executive orders.”

Provost Dennis Jacobs, Ph.D., sent an email to faculty members today explaining the new plan. 

“I recognize that the prospect of teaching on campus during the pandemic can bring great anxiety for a variety of reasons,” he said. “COVID-19 has severely altered the ways in which we work and interact, challenging us to adapt our practices significantly without compromising our fundamental values.” 

Classrooms will be assigned based on which courses need maximum use of on ground facilities. Students will be able to change their class schedule based on how well professors’ preferences align with their own, according to Jacobs. 

McShane also outlined plans for de-densifying campus and for maintaining health and safety procedures. Some administrators will continue to work from home, fewer students will be placed in residence halls and the dining system will be redesigned to comply with safety standards. 

Students will also need to be tested for COVID-19 at a maximum of seven days before returning to campus, or they will be tested upon arrival. Further testing throughout the semester will be provided by campus health services, according to the email. 

Students will also have to complete daily surveillance monitoring of symptoms through a system called VitalCheck. Any students who leave and reenter campus must complete the screening. Students will also be required to sign The Ram Pledge upon returning to campus. This pledge outlines health and safety expectations for students, including washing their hands, wearing a mask and monitoring their symptoms. 

Contact tracing, isolation and quarantine will also be enforced on campus, including enforcing travel restrictions set by New York State. 

“I know this is a lot of information, and more detail on all of these areas will be forthcoming from various offices across the University later today and throughout the week, and continuing as long as necessary into the school year,” McShane said.