From the Office of the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs:
Dear Members of the Fordham Community,
I hope this finds you and your family safe and well. Let me first thank you for your remarkable patience as we continue to work our way through the challenges that this situation has created for all of you and for us. We understand the disruption and stress that this has caused you, and we continue to work to identify ways that we can support you in the various facets of your lives. We have missed being on campus with you, and remain hopeful as we continue our planning for a return to campus this fall.
As we prepare for fall 2020, we have been working diligently to reimagine a safe and enriching student experience on campus. This is one of several communications that will detail our plans as they evolve in light of the changing circumstances around the coronavirus pandemic. We also have launched a Fordham Coronavirus website that will answer many of your questions and will be updated as needed.
Though the 2020-2021 academic year will be considerably different from what we’re accustomed to, the community remains at the core of who we are, and we are committed to providing a high-quality educational experience. In this message, we hope to provide answers about how campus will look and feel in the coming months. Please note that this message is focused on your campus experience, as opposed to academic or financial matters. As always, our top priority is the safety, health, and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.
Look for additional emails in the coming days providing additional updates as conditions—and our planning—evolve, especially for those who will have an exclusively online experience. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your specific concerns and questions.
Fall 2020 Semester
In our various discussions with you, and from surveys we have used to gather your feedback, many of you have been clear in expressing your very strong desires and hopes for a return to an on-campus, in-person experience for the fall semester. We want you to know that we share your desires, and we are doing everything we can to make this possible.
Of course, you also understand the primary caveats to which we must pay attention: (1) your health and safety, and that of those around you, which cannot be compromised by our hopes and desires; and (2) the external circumstances and guidelines that we must operate within. In this context, we have been actively planning and preparing to do all that we can to be open and on campus for the fall, with all that this entails, including the resumption of academic and student life schedules and routines and other activities.
There have been various planning groups in the Provost’s area that are focusing on the academic calendar and instructional delivery, as they try to position us and you to resume your academic life in a way that will be safe and productive. Following this effort, the University has organized several working groups each of which has many assigned objectives and tasks, and their focus includes but has not been limited to the following areas: Community Health, Well-Being and Containment (including intervention, isolation, and contact tracing); Residential Life (including move out and move in); University Health Services (including supplies, testing, immunity, staffing and PPE, vaccinations, and FUEMS); Infrastructure and Building Sanitation; Student Engagement (including Orientation, Programming, Commuter Students, and Student Life); Dining Services; Athletics; Coordination with External Agencies; and others.
As our planning advances, this situation has continued to evolve and we will continue to share information with you as we have it. We will post brief updates by end-of-business each Friday on the Fordham Coronavirus website. More information for each area is provided below.
Housing assignments: The University will provide housing accommodations consistent with our residence hall design capacity. Resident students will have roommates and suitemates, but there will be no oversubscription (additional assignments to individual rooms when demand exceeds normal capacity) and rooms are capped at their normal design capacity.
Safe and phased move-in: Resident students will soon receive information from the Office of Residential Life announcing a phased move-in process during which students who live within a reasonable distance from campus will be asked to schedule a time to move belongings onto campus prior to final arrival. All resident students will have extended move-in periods available to maintain prudent social distance.
Packing: We strongly recommend that you keep the personal belongings you bring to campus to a minimum. We want you to be comfortable, but we also want you to be prepared to move quickly if we find ourselves in a situation similar to last March, when circumstances beyond our control forced us to close the campus and clear out the residence halls without advanced warning.
Quarantine: Students coming from states on the New York state quarantine list should be prepared to self quarantine on or off campus for 14 days, upon arrival. We will share more about this in upcoming communications.
Visitation: All visitation and overnight guest passes for the Fall semester for all non-Fordham individuals will be suspended; residence hall visitation will be limited and capped.
Leave from housing: Resident students who do not wish to return to campus housing, for whatever reason, and would like to consider a leave from campus housing, should contact the Office of Residential Life on their campus. We will work with each student on this and their plans for return at a time when it is most comfortable for each student.
Campus Life and Activities
We are currently planning our programming, including orientation programs, around in-person and virtual components. Student clubs and organizations are busy planning programs and events for you to engage with your peers, both in person and online.
For commuter students: In addition to the library, the Student Involvement areas on each campus are planning for spaces in which commuter students can study and rest between classes and socialize in a safe manner.
Our staff members and offices have continued to maintain active virtual meeting schedules with many of our standing committees, student leaders and students. We urge you to continue to remain engaged with us as much as your schedules allow, and to share your feedback with us. Please stay in touch and let us know how we can assist you.
All of our dining venues have been modified to ensure safety and proper social distancing, including many physical changes, as well as furniture adjustments. We will provide tented areas at many venues to expand on outdoor dining options. Finally, all of our food formats and platforms have been adjusted to accommodate service requirements and safety, as required by New York state guidelines.
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems will be operated 24 hours a day with maximal fresh air intake.
- Designation of entrance and exit doors for each building to lessen crowding and congestion at those key locations.
- Reduced capacity in elevators.
- Directional stairwells.
- Reduced passenger capacity of individual Ram Vans (with additional runs as necessary).
- Handwashing and sanitizing stations.
- All members of the community will be provided masks.
We will provide on-campus testing for students and employees.
Pre Arrival: We encourage all students to get tested at home no more than 7 days before final arrival at campus. Those who test positive at home will be asked to delay move-in/access to campus until they are no longer symptomatic and are cleared to return by their personal physicians. All students coming to campus will be required to provide proof of testing and clearance (i.e. a negative test result within the last 7 days).
Arrival: All students and employees who will be on campus will be expected to get tested prior to arrival or when they arrive, and again at an interval to be determined after classes have begun.
Ongoing: We will also conduct regular ongoing surveillance and diagnostic testing of the student and employee populations. More communication and details will follow on the testing requirements and expectations.
We will offer and expect participation in daily surveillance monitoring through a program called Vitalcheck (which is very easy to navigate). All individuals who will be on campus will be provided with instructions in the coming days, outlining how to register and participate. Please note that commuters will need to complete VitalCheck each day to gain access to campus. Residential students who leave the campus will need to have clearance from VitalCheck to gain reentry back onto campus, and possibly more frequently when on campus. More details will follow on this.
Isolation, Quarantine and Contract Tracing
- Students who test positive and who can go home will be expected to do so; those who cannot go home, for whatever reason, will be isolated on campus.
- We have set aside isolation spaces on each campus, for resident students who test positive and cannot return home, for whatever reason; we will supplement these spaces as needed with off campus accommodations.
- We have made provisions to provide ongoing support services, medical oversight through health services and food delivery to isolated students.
- Students from distant markets and New York state identified hot spot markets, including international students, and other potential exposure cases will be asked to quarantine in their rooms when necessary and possible. We will use off campus sites for quarantine purposes, if this is needed.
- We will engage in contact tracing to identify anyone who might have been exposed to an infected individual for long enough to have put them at risk of infection.
Expectations for Campus Life
- We have developed policies that are specific to COVID-related expectations, which address the wearing of masks and face coverings, social distancing and gathering, on and off campus behavior and more.
- Community members will be expected to sign a pledge that they understand and will adhere to these expectations, in their on campus and off campus behavior.
- We will have signage and awareness campaigns in place to remind the members of our community of these expectations.
- Every person on Fordham property is required to wear an acceptable face covering in all common, public areas and while interacting with anyone else on Fordham property. The University will provide four washable face coverings without charge to all members of the campus community.
Please keep in mind that these policies have been developed with the health, safety and welfare of everyone in our community in mind. Your on-campus experience is important to us, and we know it is important to you, and following these policies is the best way to preserve the experience you love. Not following them is the best way to compromise this experience, for you and everyone in our community.
We will continue to communicate with you as this situation continues to evolve, and we encourage you to check our website regularly.
We know you miss one another, the campus community and the experience of being together. We miss it as well, and we miss seeing and working with you. Rest assured of our continuing efforts to plan for your safe return to the campus experience we know you love. It is important for all of us to remain connected in these times. Please reach out to our offices as you have questions, and we will continue to assist you in answering them, based on the information available to us. Until we are able to be together again, please stay safe and well, and all the best to you and your families.
Jeffrey L. Gray
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs