By Lauren Minore
In light of rapid developments related to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), beginning on March 30, all Rider University classes scheduled to begin or resume after the extended spring break will transition to “remote and alternative instruction” through at least April 10, the university announced in a campus-wide email on March 13.
The email said the university is planning to announce more information about its operations on or by April 3.
“Students will receive an email shortly from their deans with more detailed information,” the email said. “Because of the nature of this crisis, we are continually evaluating circumstances and new information as it becomes available.”
The email indicated that Rider had a “Coronavirus Task Force” meeting regularly to help provide thoughtful responses to the public health emergency.
The email also encouraged students who are able to return home to do so and stay there until further notice and indicated that the university will remain open during this time.
As of March 13, Kristine Brown, spokeswoman for the university, told The Rider News that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Rider.
In a subsequent email from Residence Life, a residential remote instruction exception form was released for students who have “extenuating circumstances and may not be able to leave immediately, if at all.”
The Residence Life email provided instructions for students who require an exception to stay on campus, students who will be temporarily leaving campus and students who have decided to move off-campus. The email also provided updates regarding residential cleaning and disinfecting and room selection.
Senior communication studies major Anna Lodge provided The Rider News with personal email updates she has received from university officials regarding subsequent responses to COVID-19, after Lodge emailed President Greg Dell’Omo, Residence Life and the Department of Marketing and Communications on March 9.
“What will Rider be doing to compensate for all of the tight spaces and lack of sanitizers and soaps throughout the whole campus,” Lodge’s initial email said. “It goes beyond sanitizers and soaps. Everyone on this campus deserves to feel safe. The virus is hitting places too close for comfort and it is just getting closer. I would urge the administration to take action for the safety of their students.”
Lodge said she was pleased with the university’s response to her concerns after receiving an email from Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning Debbie Stasolla on March 9 and Associate Dean of Residence Life Roberta Butler on March 13.
“The university is committed to continuing instruction to the extent possible so that students may complete their academic requirements this semester. Meanwhile, Rider is also preparing, should we have to cancel in-person classes, to ensure continuity of our classes and operations,” Butler wrote in her email to Lodge. “As more information becomes available it will be shared with the campus community. I am sorry I do not have any more specific information, but I promise to keep you informed as we learn more.”
One of Lodge’s main concerns was the undergraduate commencement ceremony, which was scheduled for May 16. Butler wrote, “From my understanding, no decision has been made regarding commencement.”
On March 13, the University of Michigan announced it was canceling spring commencement — the first large university in the nation to do so.
“I’m concerned as to what will happen with graduation because of the coronavirus,” Lodge said. “It is a scary situation which no one has the right answer for. All we can do is wait at this point.”