NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Rutgers University is working toward having more students living on campus and offering more in-person classes, university President Jonathan Holloway said Wednesday.
The announcement was made during Holloway’s first address to the Board of Governors after taking over as president on July 1.
It also came one day after a three-hour meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator.
Holloway said that Birx, who has been touring colleges and universities via car over the past several months, spent three hours on campus speaking with university, state and city officials Tuesday on the lawn outside of Winants Hall and the Old Queens administration building.
Among those in attendance were Gov. Phil Murphy and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
Holloway said the purpose of the meeting was “to talk out loud about the situations at universities as it relates to the COVID positivity rate.”
“As I think all of you know, we have been doing an exceptional job in terms of the positivity rate for those relatively small numbers of people living on campus,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting. “But the off-campus community, the positivity rate is much higher than it should be and we are now, boots on the ground, very aggressively trying to find ways to help educate again the population, especially those folks who feel the immortality of being 20 years old and they’re not part of this problem and don’t want to be part of the solution.”
According to a statement released by Rutgers, Brix, who has logged more than 16,000 miles while traveling to schools in 30 states, said: “I think there is much more community spread occurring. The college campuses are just a microcosm of what you have out there. So, when you talk about students off campus that is no different than families having parties and bringing people together. The campuses are a reflection of the overall behavior that we see across the nation.”
Holloway said the chancellors of the New Brunswick, Camden and Newark campuses will be communicating about the spring plans “in the coming days and perhaps as early as the end of this week.”
Last month, the university’s telecommunicating policy for staff and faculty members was extended to Dec. 31.