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Red Hawk Restart – Preparing for a Safe Return

University prepares for Stage 3 reopening with safeguards and flexible learning for fall 2020

Posted in: Press Releases, University

Rocky the Red Hawk wearing a mask while sitting on top of Red Hawk statue

Montclair State quickly pivoted to remote instruction during the spring 2020 semester amid the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is prepared to re-open as soon as New Jersey enters the next phase of recovery.

On Wednesday, the University announced its “Red Hawk Restart” with a detailed instructional and safety plan for the fall 2020 semester that positions Montclair State to reopen when New Jersey enters Stage 3 of Governor Phil Murphy’s phased approach to recovery.

The plan supports the University’s reopening goals:

  • Provide students with a rigorous and meaningful education and the opportunity to make good progress toward earning their degrees.
  • Continue the important research and scholarly work of the University.
  • Be sensitive to the health and safety of every member of the campus community.

To help the University community be as safe as possible, all students, faculty,  employees and visitors will be required to practice these fundamental safeguards:

  • Social Distancing
  • Wearing Face Coverings
  • Good Hand Hygiene
  • Cleaning and Sanitizing our Surroundings
  • Proper Use of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Daily Health Monitoring, and Staying Home if Sick

In addition to these fundamentals, the 65-page reopening plan specifies how the University will conduct screening, testing and contact tracing, and spells out extensive procedures for virtually every aspect of the University’s operations, including instruction, research, housing, dining, transportation, computer labs and the library, student services, athletics, study abroad and travel.

Hundreds of people from across the University shaped this plan, working long hours over the last several weeks. Every unit provided guidance and expertise about specific details and protocols. The President’s Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Related Planning provided scientific and professional advice and helped assure our plan is grounded in the best available evidence. Teams from each of the colleges, schools, and administrative units, as well as the University Senate and the Student Government Association, provided helpful feedback on drafts of each section.

It has been approved by the Board of Trustees and submitted to the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.

Among the many protocols spelled out in the campus Restart Plan:

  • The University will offer a range of in-person, online and hybrid classes, to ensure that students have flexible options while allowing social distancing in classrooms and labs. Student services will be offered in person and also will continue to be provided remotely.
  • The occupancy of residence halls, dining venues, study areas and shuttle buses will be reduced. Work spaces and service areas will be configured to allow for more distancing, and barriers or shields will be installed where needed.
  • Cleaning and sanitizing will be done more frequently, and disinfecting supplies will be provided so that employees and students can help wipe down keyboards and other high-touch surfaces before and after each use.
  • Students, faculty and staff in programs whose University-related activities bring them into close contact with others on a regular basis will be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus, including athletes, performing artists and students living in residence halls.
  • All employees, students, contractors and visitors will complete an online screening assessment 6 to 12 hours before coming to campus, and will be instructed to remain at home or in their residence hall room if they have any symptoms or recent risks of exposure to COVID-19.
  • The University will continue to log known cases and will collaborate with the health departments in our surrounding communities to support contact tracing.

In keeping with State requirements, the University will allow faculty and students who request accommodations because they are immunocompromised or are at high risk for COVID-19 to teach or learn remotely.

Students and faculty will be trained on the safeguards and procedures and are expected to comply with them.

For more information visit the Red Hawk Restart website. Questions may be addressed to

“Our success in achieving our goals for the fall 2020 semester will depend not just on this Plan,” says President Susan A. Cole, “but, to a much greater degree, will depend on the collective will of all the members of the University community to work together to meet our responsibilities for the education of our students, our responsibility to do all the things that will help keep each other safe, and our responsibility to be effective short-term stewards of the long-term asset of this important University whose future now rests in our hands.”

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