Phase 2: Returning gradually

Phase 2: Returning gradually

With the state’s continued guidance on COVID-19 -related restrictions, Rowan eagerly begins Phase 2 of our return to on-campus operation. We have more information to share so the Rowan community can prepare to carry on with confidence. The general guidelines we have developed will help support our commitment to everyone’s health and safety. In some cases, such as wearing masks, sanitizing with vigilance and social distancing, the guidance will be familiar. In other cases, we will need to help each other adapt to guidance and adopt new habits and procedures. 

To comply with the State’s restart standards for higher education, we have submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education a plan that addresses requirements for resuming on-campus activity. Our Return to Rowan website provides extensive guidance for employees, students and visitors, as outlined in the state report. We encourage everyone to review the information and return to the site regularly for updates that will occur as circumstances, requirements and resources change. 

State negotiated furloughs
The Governor's Office has negotiated furlough agreements with AFT, IFPTE and CWA. At Rowan, furlough plans are in place for both IFPTE and CWA and are being created for 12-month AFT employees. Most furloughs will occur in July. We will do our best to coordinate schedules with staff to minimize the impact on the university. Managerial employees will not be furloughed at this time but will have reduced overall salaries through lay-offs and position eliminations that have already occurred.

Phasing in our staff’s return
While most employees will continue to work remotely during Phase 2, employees may hear from colleagues who are being asked to return to campus. Departments whose staff need access to on-campus equipment and records have priority for returning. We will continue to welcome back employees in Phases 3 and 4 as we follow public health and environmental hygiene protocols. Each division or department head will advise staff on the plan to continue working from home or begin returning to campus. Most of our buildings are still being prepared to re-open. Please don’t attempt to return until you hear from your supervisor to resume on-campus activity.

Please wear your mask
With health and safety as our priority, our immediate goals include opening Rowan residential facilities for fall and providing in-person classes for the traditional on-campus experience, while ensuring remote/hybrid options are available. To accomplish this, we’re relying on our Rowan community members to help protect themselves and each other. Wearing a mask will continue to be an essential, common practice for the foreseeable future.Employees and students are required to wear face coverings in all indoor public/shared areas, including, but not limited to: office common areas, hallways, restrooms, kitchens, elevators, stairwells, cafeterias, etc. Masks are not required in private offices or residence hall rooms.

We will continue to adjust schedules and create options to reduce the density of our population and provide safe distancing for students and employees. We are posting signs throughout our campuses to direct and encourage everyone about our community safeguards, resources and requirements. 

Positive signs and sobering realities
In spite of unprecedented challenges, the Rowan community is looking forward to the promise of another school year. It appears that fall enrollment will be strong, with great enthusiasm from our incoming and returning students. We all anticipate adapting to pandemic-imposed changes, but those changes—wearing masks, increased cleaning protocols, distancing and vigilance—are major factors in building everyone’s confidence about the future at Rowan. 

On the financial front, we are still working with the state on the new fiscal year budget, but we expect a degree of support that will help mitigate the economic stresses brought on by COVID-19. Tighter finances will continue to affect virtually every aspect of our institution and the individuals in our academic community. We will work together to reduce the impact as much as possible, while maintaining our commitment to community health and safety, as well as academic quality and access.

Thank you for your continued flexibility. With all that we have faced, we remain strong, vibrant and creative. I am proud of the work we have done as a university and I am enthusiastic about our preparedness for the fall. 

Yours truly,

Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D.