NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Rutgers is suspending all in-person instruction and all events through the end of May - including commencement ceremonies, the school announced Tuesday afternoon.
According to a statement from University President Robert Barchi posted on the school's website, a final determination on whether commencement ceremonies can be rescheduled to a later date will be made in the coming weeks.
Canceling or postponing commencements will have no effect on the school's ability to confer degrees on its graduates, according to the statement.
The moves come a day after Gov. Phil Murphy called for a cancelation of all gatherings of 50 people or more. He also announced that public, private and parochial schools pre-K through 12, as well as colleges and universities, should be closed by Wednesday.
The moves were in line with the governor's calls for social distancing - staying at least six feet apart - in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed three people in New Jersey. Another 267 people have tested positive in the state.
"These are the right actions to take for the health of our community," Barchi said in the statement. "But I know I speak for all faculty and staff when I say how deeply we will miss the vibrancy that students bring to our campuses each spring, and how incomplete this year will feel without our commencement ceremonies. To our seniors, I offer our community’s heartfelt appreciation for all you have contributed and my sincere regret that the global situation has required this unfortunate decision."
Residential students will receive a notification over the coming days with guidance about next steps and timing for moving out of residence halls on their respective campuses.
Students who received a waiver to continue residing on campus will be permitted to stay.
The school will be issuing prorated refunds for room and board.
"Information on this topic will also be forthcoming," Barchi said. "I ask everyone for their patience during this process, as our hardworking staff balance this important task against the numerous competing personal and professional challenges we are all facing."
In the statement, Barchi addressed the faculty and staff, telling them he is "working aggressively to support academic continuity, research continuity, telecommuting and leave flexibility for issues related to COVID-19."
On March 10, Barchi moved to cancel classes for two days and move all course instruction online when students return from spring break on March 23. The 16,000 students living in residence halls in New Brunswick and Piscataway, as well as the students on the Newark and Camden campuses, were instructed to leave as soon as possible and are encouraged to remain off campus until at least April 3.
On Sunday, March 15, the school announced that a biomedical engineering professor at Rutgers–New Brunswick had tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19.
Tuesday afternoon's moves will also shutter Rutgers Day, and threatens to half a planned farewell celebration for Barchi. His eight-year term as university president is set to end June 30.
"I want to thank every member of our community for the grace and flexibility with which you have responded to this historic crisis," he said in Tuesday's statement. "You have shown resolve, toughness, and an incredible determination to make it work. Together, I know our community will overcome the obstacles ahead."