Montclair State University students and faculty are transitioning to online classes to halt the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) on campus. The Information Technology Division (IT) is working towards the official transition date on Monday, March 23.
IT posted FAQs on the Montclair State new coronavirus website which includes helpful information regarding online courses. According to President Susan Cole, all classes will be using different methods of online instruction, including all labs and studio classes; no in-person course meetings will commence.
“There are a number of different modalities that will be in use depending on the course and the instructor,” Cole said.
Some classes will be using Zoom, a remote conferencing service, or conference calls. Other classes may be watching a filmed video of their professor lecturing. It is not mandatory for professors to engage in face-to-face interaction with their students via web conference.
Dr. Stephanie Silvera, a professor of public health at Montclair State with a doctorate in epidemiology, explained that Montclair State is keeping in continuity with the health messages and information being distributed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We are lucky for us that this all started to peak during our spring break, which is a little helpful in order to give administration, faculty and students a little breathing room to adjust to the changes,” Silvera said.
Students are looking ahead to the rest of the semester on how they are going to complete their classes. Michelle Sales, a junior business major, feels that switching to online was the right decision.
“I’ve taken hybrid classes, but never a complete online class,” Sales said. “I feel like the school’s decision was for the best interest of the students and the campus itself. I’m actually very pleased with the decision because now I’m able to work more, now that I don’t have to be at school, but the circumstances are scary.”
Kasey Coury, a junior communication and media arts major, is not used to the idea of online classes yet.
“When I heard that classes are going to be online for the rest of the semester, even saying it now, it hasn’t hit me,” Coury said. “I’m kind of thinking, ‘Oh it will kind of be online for a little and when the panic settles down we will meet in person again.’”
On Monday, March 16, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a school shut down starting Wednesday, March 18. This generated confusion for students and parents over whether or not the campus would remain open.
As of right now, the university is allowing students to remain in their dorms and residence halls will remain open for the foreseeable future, as stated in the email sent to the campus community on March 16.
Richard DeVivo, a junior history and political science major, is looking forward to going back to his dorm.
“I do plan on going back to campus,” DeVivo said. “I feel like I will get cabin fever if I am cooped up in my house any longer. But if it is a true ghost town and I feel that there is no reason for me to be there, I will probably just pack up and go home for some time. It will take time to see how it plays out.”
The university will remain open, but there is no basis for a refund at this time since all services are available to students. The topic, however, is being discussed by administration.
“We have not made any decisions about that right now,” Cole said. “We will, of course, give that issue our attention. As soon as we have made a decision about that we will let you know.”
Montclair State’s website states that students have the option to withdraw from courses or move out of the residence halls, but deadline dates for tuition, fees and residence hall refunds have passed at this point in the semester.
“If the school decides to close dorms I expect to be reimbursed, just not in full,” DeVivo said. “Over half the year is over and I wouldn’t expect a full refund, though it would be nice.”
The university has not come to a decision on how they will proceed in regard to commencement and convocation ceremonies for graduating seniors. They have set the beginning of April as the deadline of when they will make that decision.
Contributions to this article made by Rosaria Lo Presti and Adrianna Caraballo