Dear Members of the RBHS Community:
President Holloway has recently announced the University’s plans for the 2021 Spring Semester to prepare for a cautious, measured expansion of in-person education, on-campus living, and the associated activities of a vibrant higher education community.
RBHS has already been conducting limited in-person clinical education, training rotations, and graduate level research activities since the spring of 2020. We have implemented effective and appropriate safety measures backed up by an epidemiologically based testing protocol to protect all members of our community and designed to facilitate our students’ timely completion of their coursework.
We intend to maintain these policies and practices through the Spring Semester of 2021. Consistent with our past practices, each of the RBHS schools and units will be adapting the general principles set forth by President Holloway to fit their educational programs and clinical capacities. Each of the RBHS school deans may plan to expand in-person education, informed by and aligned with appropriate testing and safety protocols. Students and faculty at each school will receive further detailed instructions from their schools shortly. These guidelines will continue to remain flexible, however, and subject to change, should the need arise to take additional steps to protect our faculty, staff, students, and patients. Please consult the RBHS campus status webpage for periodic updates.
As a novel organism that mutates and evolves, we are unable to predict with certainty the future virulence and infectiousness of the COVID-19 virus. Our goal is to begin to return our teaching toward normal, while continuing to provide RBHS faculty, staff, and students as safe an environment that is conducive to learning and productivity as possible.
Finally, a word about testing. The university currently employs a robust on-campus testing strategy, developed through best practices and guidance put forth by the New Jersey Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. However, advances in testing are ever changing, and therefore our testing protocols are and will be routinely revised, updated, and expanded as we move through the fall into the spring semester. There are many dependencies to appropriate testing, including the availability of reliable and quick result-driven tests that continue to improve and inform the taker almost immediately. We are committed to keeping our community healthy while providing a sense of security to the greatest extent possible. Updates will be made available about changes to our protocols.
Thank you all for your dedication, resourcefulness, and resilience as we enter this next phase of the RBHS recovery and response planning.
Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Executive Vice President of Health Affairs, Rutgers University