Note to Students & Families: Drew Virtual Time Begins Tomorrow, 3/15/20

Note to Students & Families: Drew Virtual Time Begins Tomorrow, 3/15/20

Dear Drew students and families,

Last Tuesday I wrote to inform you of Drew’s adoption of the practice of social distancing in order to decrease COVID-19 risk in our community. Beginning tomorrow, Monday, March 16, and continuing through a currently slated period of three weeks, the University will operate in Drew Virtual Time (DVT) for both learning and business. Making a rapid transition like this is a challenge, and Drew is up for that challenge. Our faculty and staff have been working tirelessly to refine and finalize plans for DVT so that we can continue to execute on our mission of academic excellence. This is a long message, full of important information on academics, learning online, campus life, building access, events and more; please take the time to read it carefully

As of this date and time, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 on the Drew campus, and University leadership continues to monitor the situation. We know this is a considerable disruption, to say the least, and you have many questions. Our learning experience in the literal Forest is part of what makes Drew so special. Nevertheless, as a community, we are committed to delivering the quality education Drew is known for during these exceptional times—and we will. 

With this shift comes disappointment; nonetheless, we are committed to keeping our students, faculty, and staff safe. Social distancing—a conscious effort to limit close contact with people—is our best strategy to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. By having fewer people on campus, we decrease the potential health risk to the larger community. Thank you for helping us to reduce that risk.

We are actively working to address questions related to your education and community experience—from your academic progress and financial aid to your living situations and visas, and everything in between. Though we may not have answers to all of those questions in the information below nor yet at the COVID-19 site, rest assured, that we continue to work on issues that have arisen because of this transition, and will keep you informed. 

For now, please read this information, visit the COVID-19 site for FAQ specifically for students and look for further info about the next few weeks and beyond. (If you are curious, you can also find information at the COVID-19 site on how Drew is working with faculty and staff during this time.)

Academic Continuity

  • We understand this transition might cause concern or anxiety. You should take this first week to get adjusted to this new online learning experience. Each class will be conducted and completed slightly differently, so specific questions should be sent to your course instructor. However, most course sessions will happen synchronously but via Zoom. This means that you are expected to login on the time and day(s) of your normal class session. 
  • You should have received instructions from your instructor about how to access your classes online. Online instruction begins on Monday, March 16. For a list of technical support resources, visit the FAQ section of the COVID-19 site.
  • You should continue communicating directly with your instructors for information pertaining to your coursework.
  • Don’t have access to a computer or the internet? Notify your professor and contact the help desk
  • All synchronous class meetings will be held at the regularly scheduled time and day (Eastern Daylight Savings Time). Attendance for online courses is expected; if your circumstance prevents your participation in Zoom class meetings at the regularly scheduled time and day, please let your professor know.
  • Tutoring appointments with the Center for Academic Excellence will be conducted online. Visit drew.mywconline.com for information. Tutoring for Theological School and Caspersen School ESOL students also continues online. Please direct questions for that program to Professor Brown
  • If you have concerns about your accommodations, please reach out to Director of Accessibility Resources Dana Giroux at dgiroux@drew.edu about your access needs surrounding online learning. 
  • Access to appointments and advising with Career Center staff remains available during normal business hours. Email career@drew.edu for an appointment; visit the FAQ section of the COVID-19 site for more info.
  • Fall 2020 registration is happening according to the schedule posted on the Registrar’s website
  • There are no changes to the summer term schedule planned at this time. Updates will be provided in the event that classes are cancelled or converted to online.
  • We know learning in a virtual environment calls for diligent work by faculty and students. Continue to apply yourselves with as much—if not more—dedication as you would if you were in the classroom, lab, studio, chapel, theatre or any on-campus space. 

Internships, NYC Semesters, Community-Based Learning, Travel

Drew has suspended all on-site activity for internships. Some students may be able to work remotely with their internship employer, while others will have to complete alternate assignments to complete their internship. All CLA and Caspersen students with internships will be receiving an FAQ communication from the Career Center. All Theo students with internships will receive guidance from the Theological School’s Dean’s office. 

  • Faculty and student travel for all Drew activities, including NYC courses, has been suspended. Faculty are developing alternate assignments for NYC courses. Be in contact with your faculty member for this information. 
  • All Drew CBL off-campus activity has been suspended. All spring 2020 CBL students are receiving guidance from their corresponding faculty on how to complete their CBL credit requirements. Civic Scholars are not held accountable for circumstances beyond their control and should not worry about losing their scholarships. 
  • All university-sponsored academic travel is suspended for the remainder of the semester. No decisions have yet been made regarding summer programs involving travel (e.g., TRECs, Honduras Project, etc.). Visit the FAQ section of the COVID-19 site for more info.

Student Employment

  • Details about student employment are still being worked through. No on-campus student employees should report to work on Monday, March 16 or Tuesday, March 17. Virtual employees will be contacted directly by their supervisor.

Business Continuity 

  • Beginning on Monday, March 16, we will resume normal business practices in a modified, mainly remote way. 
  • All administrative offices, including the Registrar’s Office and Financial Aid, will be functioning virtually, and administrative processes will be operating as usual.

Building Closures

  • As much of the staff and student populations—and nearly all faculty—will move to working remotely, we are temporarily taking as many buildings offline as possible. By closing buildings and limiting the number of employees on campus, we both encourage social distancing and reduce the need to clean and sanitize our many thousands of square feet of space so that we can focus on additional cleaning of spaces where community members need access. By dramatically limited access to campus facilities, we are also reducing the risk to staff who are doing the sanitizing. Locks will be changed on decommissioned buildings on Tuesday, March 16 at 5 p.m for the duration of the period of remote work. Visit the COVID-19 site for a list of these buildings.
  • Labs/art rooms/etc. are not available for course-related work. Your instructors will advise how to complete work. 

Events and Gatherings

  • Through at least April 3, all internal, institutional, and external events are postponed. Organizers should consider remote technology. This period of time may be extended as needed.
  • All NCAA Landmark Conference and non-conference play is suspended until at least April 6.
  • Club sports practices and contests are suspended at this time.
  • We have not made a determination regarding Commencement, and expect to share updates in the next few weeks.
  • We will continue to evaluate the situation and stay in touch with you about the postponement and resumption of events on campus.

Health Services

  • Health Services will remain open with scheduling updates on their website.
  • If you are feeling ill, please call the office at 973-408-3414 to speak with a clinician prior to scheduling an appointment or visiting Health Services. If you are home, contact by phone first, your local provider or emergency department.

Counseling Services

  • Counseling Services will remain open with scheduling updates on their website.
  • Students who are currently seeing a counselor will be notified of available options for remote meetings.
  • Group sessions are suspended at this time.

Residence Life

  • University residence halls will remain open for those who chose to remain in their rooms. Residents who chose to reside elsewhere during this three-week period will be unable to return to the residence hall until on-campus classes resume.  
  • The Guest Policy is suspended; no guest will be authorized to be in the residence halls.
  • Residents who choose to host other Drew residents in their room should use best hygiene practices, including social distancing to avoid close contact.
  • Our professional residence life team will remain on campus for student support. An updated duty roster will be shared with the community as needed.
  • The halls remain under 24-hour quiet hours as a way to enhance the practices of social distancing.
  • If you have not already—or if your plans have changed—please submit the Drew University Residency Plans during COVID-19 form.
  • If you are graduating in May, are unable to go home and continue to need housing, we will continue to house you during this global emergency.
  • While we currently do not have anyone in this situation, the University has identified rooms for residents who may need to isolate if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19, discharged from the hospital and are unable to return home. Food will be delivered to the location. Medical services will be provided through Health Services and local authorities as appropriate.

Commuting Students

  • Commuter students should inform us of where they are residing during this period by submitting the Drew University Residency Plans during COVID-19 form.
  • As the academic areas of campus are closed, commuters should remain off campus. If you have on-campus employment, please speak with your supervisor regarding the plans.

For Our Students whose Permanent U.S. Home Is Drew

  • A staff member from International Student Services will be available in the Ehinger Center to meet with students from March 16 through April 3, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 pm.  

Dining

  • Peet’s Coffee House and the Ehinger Center Food Court are closed.
  • Other establishments are as follows:
    • Starbucks, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
    • Commons, 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
    • McLendon C-Store, 6 p.m.–midnight
  • When dining in the Commons, instead of sitting directly across from one another, practice social distancing by staggering your seating.
  • All dining facilities have transitioned to pre-packaged or served/plated items; consider taking your meals in your room.

Mail Service

  • Mail Services in the Commons are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 Library

  • On-campus and remote library and instructional technology services are outlined in this guide.

Simon Forum

  • The Forum is closed.

Bookstore

  • The Bookstore will not be open during DVT. However, the bookstore website is extending FREE GROUND SHIPPING to avoid disruption. The bookstore’s priority is to ensure the campus community has textbooks and other essential items. Please check the website for updates.

Resources

  • Visit University’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date information on all University prevention practices, policies, information, and resources.
  • For concerns about bias or harassment, students can submit an incident report using this form.

We know how disappointing this situation is for our students and families. You’re not working in your labs or in your studios, not worshipping or creating theatre or music as a community, not venturing to NYC for class or clubs, not practicing your sports. Your education and community experience is second only to your health and safety when it comes to priorities. And so our goal is to act now for the best chance for a return to normal life in The Forest.

By having fewer people on campus and limited face-to-face interaction, we decrease the potential health risk to the larger community. Your cooperation allows us to care for our community at large, especially for those at high risk. Thank you for your continued understanding.

I want to publicly thank our dedicated and talented faculty and staff, who have been diligently working around the clock for Drew during this unprecedented crisis. We will communicate with you as far in advance as possible regarding a return to on-campus learning and business after April 3. You’ll find this message and FAQ for our community at our COVID-19 site. I urge you to please take care of yourself and your loved ones. We will get through this together. 

Sincerely,

MaryAnn Baenninger
President