The past few weeks have presented us with unforeseen challenges as Rutgers, like most universities, made the difficult decision to suspend on-campus classes. On Monday, you will resume the academic semester with remote learning, perhaps a practice yet unfamiliar to many of you and to some of our faculty, after a Spring Break that was likely challenging for some and dislocating for others. While the decision was made to help ensure the health of our communities, we understand how disappointing these changes must feel for you. Though none of us could have anticipated the unique circumstances we are in, I want to reassure you, like the previous notes from the president and the chancellor, that we will find ways to support you during the remaining academic semester.
Our goal, first and foremost, is to maintain academic continuity amid the current disruptions we are experiencing. We are working closely with each of your academic schools at Rutgers–New Brunswick, including your deans, department chairs, undergraduate and graduate program directors, and faculty instructors, to minimize the impact of these disruptions on your academic progress. Below, I have outlined a number of important new measures being taken to offer you academic support and ease potential academic challenges that may come with remote learning coupled with uncertainties at home:
- We would like to offer you more time to review and recalibrate your academic performance, given the possible hardships that could impede your academic progress. To this end, the Course Withdrawal deadline to drop a class with a W through WebReg has been extended from March 13 to April 10. With the permission of your dean and under extenuating circumstances, you could even request to withdraw from the Spring 2020 semester as late as April 30.
- For undergraduate students, if you believe your academic performance will be adversely affected due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, we will offer you a new option to change one or more courses from letter grading to Pass/No Credit grading. We understand that these are unprecedented times, and have extended the deadline to make this decision to May 22, well after the semester is completed, and one week after final grades have been submitted. The extended timeline will allow you ample time to review, consult and then make the appropriate decision should this option be the right one for those of you severely disadvantaged by the COVID-19 disruption. We do encourage you to consult with your academic advisor prior to opting-in, as this grade change may have certain implications for your academic progress, career path, and financial aid standing. Please review the full policy to learn more about this option; further details for the opt-in process will be forthcoming by April 10.
- Over the last two weeks, your faculty instructors have worked actively to develop remote instruction plans. While this represents a significant institution-level challenge, your professors should be conveying their instructional plans to you regarding new course formats. I encourage you to visit the Technology Resources for Students page for assistance with accessing and navigating the various remote instruction methods. This page includes information about videoconferencing, learning management systems and getting help with technology services and systems. In addition, you can visit the Learning Centers' remote instruction page or contact their virtual help desk to access online tutoring, academic coaching, writing assistance, study groups, and workshops.
- If you have persistent issues with the LMS technology or Internet connection necessary to access the remote format of a course, please inform your professor, undergraduate director, and teaching assistants proactively so that these may be recognized and resolved as early as possible. In addition to resources that may be available through Rutgers, there are a number of Internet providers offering free services during this time, including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum and Altice, as summarized on the resource page above.
We appreciate your patience as Rutgers continues to adapt to this rapidly evolving situation. We recognize the deep levels of concern and uncertainty this is creating for you, and we remain committed to your academic progress as well as your safety and well-being. With the perseverance and determination so unique to our Rutgers community, I am confident that we will re-engage and advance in the face of this crisis.
Please bookmark and continue to check for updated information on the universitywide COVID-19 website.
Wishing you good health,
Prabhas V. Moghe, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Research and Academic Affairs