President Leahy Shares Summer and Fall University Plans

President Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., delivered an update on upcoming fall and summer University plans on Monday, Mar. 22.

“Just one year ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and the state of New Jersey announced a public health emergency in response to this growing threat,” Leahy wrote in the introduction to his community-wide message. “This has been a year that tested our resolve, but together, we have faced these unexpected challenges with great patience, flexibility, and fortitude.”

The University has been encouraged by the increased surveillance testing, widespread vaccination efforts, and the “overwhelming desire of our students to return more fully to campus,” as plans are made for the summer and fall semesters.

“We are confident that these strengths, coupled with the resilience of the Monmouth spirit, will help us successfully navigate through the next several months and transition into a post-pandemic reality that more closely resembles our pre-pandemic learning environment,” Leahy wrote.

The University’s plan is to offer a predominantly online summer schedule, “with approximately a quarter of our courses delivered in hybrid or in-person formats.”

“Even prior to the pandemic, we had been working to increase our summer online offerings in response to student demand,” Leahy wrote. “We have found summer online courses to be a very convenient and effective way to serve our students, and we plan to continue to offer a robust selection of online courses in upcoming summers.”

The University’s objective for the fall 2021 semester is to resume-in person classes and student activities “to the fullest and safest extent possible.”

“We are planning a fall semester that is primarily in-person,” Leahy wrote. “[We] look forward to opening our campus more fully, if not entirely, for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. We recognize that COVID-19 will present ongoing challenges, but we are preparing for a safe return to in-person activity at Monmouth and are eager to welcome our community back to campus in the fall.”

Plans are tentative and revolve around current and prevailing public health guidance. The University plans to make decisions based on recommendations issued by the CDC and state of New Jersey, Leahy wrote.

“We hope to have more updated plans about instruction and campus life as we receive those guidelines,” Leahy wrote. “If changes to public health restrictions impact our plans for the fall semester, we will immediately share updated information with you.”

Answers to specific questions regarding living and learning opportunities during the fall semester will be communicated as detailed plans form over the coming weeks, Leahy explained. “We have persevered through an unprecedented year in modern history, and if we remain vigilant in our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, then we can hope for a safe return to near-normal operations in the fall.”

In a recent episode of the “Monmouth Mondays” podcast, Leahy explained his commitment and willingness to offer in-person graduation ceremonies for seniors and graduate students in a similar fashion to last year.

“It is yet another example of how we’re trying to put students first,” Leahy said. “We know that this is what they want and we know that’s what their parents want. We will do everything we can to try to deliver it for them.”

The state of New Jersey has not provided the University with needed guidelines to plan ceremonies, Leahy explained. Last week, Governor Phil Murphy announced a slight increase to 25 people allowed for indoor gatherings and 50 people allowed for outdoor gatherings.

“Somewhere between that relaxation…. We think there is an opening for the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to hopefully give us some guidance that if we do it well and responsibly, we will be able to offer in-person ceremonies again,” Leahy said.

“We may need to offer a whole series of [ceremonies] like we did last year. Remember, we did nine last August. We may need to do a whole series of them, but we’re committed to doing it because we know it’s what our students want.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Anthony DePrimo