A strong start

A strong start


We’re midway through September and it’s been wonderful to see students back on our campuses. We are excited to have school back in session, along with activities and events taking place that bring back a sense of normalcy, even if they look different. We write today to provide information and updates about life at Rowan this fall. 

There are more than 19,500 students in the Rowan family this semester. Of approximately 15,500 undergraduates, about 4,100 students chose to live on the main campus, helping us see firsthand how well the community can work with so many new procedures and restrictions in place. 

Remote and in-person classes on all campuses are off to a strong start. Faculty, advisors and student services professionals made an immense effort throughout spring and summer to adapt and innovate for fall. Their commitment, focus and flexibility are apparent. 

Following our plans
To date, about 17  percent of our classes — mostly studio and labs which require physical presence — have carried on well in the hybrid format and will continue to have in-person opportunities. While some students and faculty are eager to participate in more in-person instructional activity in September, our primary concern is always the health and safety of the Rowan family. So, while data and observable conditions are within our expectations, we believe it is prudent to continue with our current level of in-person classes for now. When appropriate, we will expand in-person options for more courses. 

Thankfully, we have planned for this level of flexibility. Again, this is because of the extraordinary work of our faculty to develop flexible, practical processes to help ensure best outcomes for working with students in a dynamic, unpredictable environment.

Reporting in context
Recent media reports tell of wide-ranging COVID-19 infection rates at institutions across the state and region. A look at our dashboard shows that since Aug. 25, we have had a total of 131 confirmed cases:

  • 55 are tallied on-campus (main campus) because our definition counts them “on campus” if they were at Rowan facilities at any point during their infectious period.

  • 30 students who tested positive are in isolation in our residence hall reserved for this purpose; the balance are not on campus.

  • 74 students were never on the main campus, so they are categorized as “off campus.”

  • two employees have been working remotely.

It’s important to note that not all of these individuals are currently infected; 109 cases — as of Sept. 10 — are active. And while we are encouraged to see students recovering after testing positive, we can’t let down our guard.

Assessing the infection rate
We know from contact tracing and reported activity that most infections are occurring in social situations where people are not being vigilant about safety, particularly at off-campus rental housing. Because we consider these residences a source of concern for spreading infection, we will continue health and safety education and outreach with these students. 

Rowan is providing on-campus testing Monday through Friday each week, serving students at various levels of likely exposure and infection with COVID-19. So far, we’ve relied on volunteers to help determine the baseline for the residential student population’s infection rate. To get a clearer picture of infections at Rowan, we need even more residential students to participate. Next week, we will expand our community health assessment by inviting more students to volunteer to be tested. Once we are able to increase the value and certainty of the data with residential students, we will broaden testing to off-campus students and others in the Rowan community. Good data will help us better anticipate challenges and fight the virus among us.

Reading the data
Each day, we continue to update the dashboard that shows all campuses and categories of our population since tracking began in mid-March. We have accurate statistical snapshots of our community and we are pleased that state health officials have lauded our definitions and process. However, because there are no official standards for reporting, we must be cautious in comparing our data with other institutions’ figures. Even so, we continue to refine our reporting process and work with the state Department of Health to create common reporting metrics and definitions throughout New Jersey.

Please visit Return to Rowan regularly for updates and resources to help students and employees navigate our new environment. Our goals are to provide information, protect our community and neighbors, and build confidence as we move forward together. 

Your support and collaboration are more vital than ever. Thank you for your commitment. 


Tony Lowman

Kevin S. Koett
Interim Vice President of Student Life/Dean of Students

Scott Woodside
Director, Wellness Center