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Centenary University announces plan to reopen for in-person classes

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Centenary University has announced that it will reopen for the fall semester guided by a flexible plan combining on-ground, online, and HyFlex course options that maximize social distancing and safety. The University’s announcement follows the issuance of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order this week allowing in-person instruction at the state’s colleges and universities. The state recently approved Centenary’s reopening plan, which emphasizes a HyFlex model of instruction blending in-person and online classes to reduce density on campus.

While some New Jersey universities have opted to continue with their announced plans to conduct the fall semester fully online, Centenary was able to pivot quickly with its plan for HyFlex learning once the governor signed his executive order.

“As a small university, we are uniquely positioned to respond with agility to developing situations, ensuring that our students continue to receive a superior education,” University President Dr. Bruce Murphy said. “Centenary faculty have been preparing all summer to teach both in-person and online, so we are ready to respond quickly to any pandemic-related challenges that could occur.”

Centenary’s reopening plan complies with all guidelines from the New Jersey Office of Higher Education. A multidisciplinary team at the University considered every aspect of on-campus and virtual operations to develop a roadmap for the fall semester that prepares for various contingencies that could arise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop.

Dr. Murphy said the team’s top considerations were maintaining academic excellence, safety, and agility to respond to new developments. “During our planning, we placed a high priority on the safe return of Centenary students to campus for the fall semester,” he explained. “Like all colleges and universities around the nation, Centenary is adjusting to a ‘new normal’ following this spring’s COVID-19 outbreak.”

The semester will begin as originally planned on campus on Monday, Aug. 31, and will continue in person through Wednesday, Nov. 25, when students leave for Thanksgiving break. The final weeks of the semester will continue online, although exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for students who need access to campus to complete their coursework or for student-athletes who are in training.

While students will return to campus as scheduled, HyFlex courses combining in-person and virtual classes will be utilized as much as possible to reduce population density on campus. Students who are not comfortable returning to in-person classes will have the option of taking all courses remotely for the fall semester.

The University’s plan for fall includes new guidelines to promote social distancing on campus, including in classrooms, residence halls, and dining halls, as well as responsible hygiene practices such as proper handwashing. Social distancing will be introduced to student activities as much as possible to enhance student safety. Centenary will continue to follow guidance for intercollegiate athletics from the NCAA and the Colonial States Athletics Conference (CSAC). Competitions will commence when it is deemed safe by these two entities, as well as the governor’s office.

“We anticipate that the COVID-19 situation will continue to evolve and Centenary University will be prepared for every contingency,” Dr. Murphy said. “All decisions will continue to be made for the safety and academic benefit of our students.”

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