Princeton changes plan: Moves to all-remote undergrad. learning this fall

In response to the increase of COVID-19 cases, Princeton University will not be offering on-campus learning for undergraduates this fall, according to Christopher Eisgruber, president, who announced the change on Friday in a letter to the Princeton community.

The university previously planned for a staggered on-campus return, with freshman and juniors returning in the fall and sophomores and seniors in the spring.

“In brief, the pandemic’s impact in New Jersey has led us to conclude that we cannot provide a genuinely meaningful on-campus experience for our undergraduate students this fall in a manner that is respectful of public health concerns and consistent with state regulations and guidance,” Eisgruber said in a news release.

The president said a combination of the pandemic’s health risks and restrictions as well as the pause at Stage 2 of Gov. Phil Murphy’s reopening plan (that has yet to move to Stage 3) were part of the reasons to move fully remote.

“When I last communicated with you, just over a month ago, we anticipated welcoming undergraduates from the Classes of 2022 and 2024 to campus in late August. We noted at the time, however, that we would continue to monitor the course of the pandemic, and that we might have to change our plans if it worsened. In the weeks that followed, infection rates soared around much of the country, with nearly 2 million new cases reported over the last month. This development had two serious adverse consequences for Princeton’s ability to provide undergraduates with a positive and safe on-campus experience in the fall.”

Eisgruber said in the letter he hopes students will return to campus in fall 2021 and acknowledged the negative impact the news will have on students, faculty and staff.

“I understand, as do my colleagues, that the news contained in this letter will be disheartening and disappointing. We know that our students very much wanted to be back on this campus. We very much wanted to have you here: you are the life of this place, and we miss you tremendously.”

Graduate students will still be on campus in the fall, with most first-year classes offering remote options.

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