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Are colleges and universities open? Are summer programs open? What are the safety requirements?

Last Updated: 07/09/2020

As of July 1, limited in-person programming at institutions of higher education resumed in accordance with the safety requirements and guidance outlined by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) for summer sessions and the Fall 2020 semester.

Colleges and universities must submit their restart plans to OSHE at least 14 days before any staff or students return to campus. These plans will be reviewed in coordination and consultation with the Department of Health.

Each institutional plan must follow a phased approach in accordance with OSHE standards.


  • All in-person instruction, including labs, clinical rotations and all other curricular activity is prohibited, unless a waiver supported by a compelling rationale is obtained from the Secretary of Higher Education.
  • No students are allowed to reside in on-campus residential facilities, except for those enrolled in courses/programs with an in-person approved waiver or in narrowly-defined extenuating circumstances who are already present on campus.
  • Computer laboratories and libraries remain closed. Institutions should explore potential alternatives, such as providing each student with a laptop and internet access. Returned items should be sanitized wherever possible.
  • In-person dining facilities are closed. Takeout, "grab-and-go," and/or delivery may be available to those who must continue to reside on campus.


  • Most in-person instruction remains limited to instances where a waiver is obtained from the Secretary. However, in-person instruction of curricula that require labs, technical, clinical, or hands-on instruction and therefore cannot be readily taught other than through in-person instruction can resume with adherence to strict health and safety protocols.
  • A limited number of students (based on capacity restrictions) can return to on-campus residential facilities. Full occupancy of buildings is not acceptable for restart plans. Institutions must reduce density of residential living spaces to the extent practicable. Institutions should be mindful of students for whom residential housing is necessary for an equitable education. Common areas are closed, and outside visitors to residence halls must be limited to those present for delivery, maintenance or an emergency.
  • Computer laboratories remain closed. Curbside pickup or delivery of remotely-requested printed materials is available. This should be done by appointment.
  • Libraries may open in a limited fashion in accordance with the applicable state health and safety requirements.
  • Dining: Takeout or "grab and go" options should remain available. Outdoor dining only is allowed pursuant to statewide occupancy, health, and safety requirements.


  • Most in-person classroom instruction, labs, and other curricular activity are permitted in accordance with state-established occupancy restrictions and health and safety restrictions.
  • Institutions may continue to operate on-campus residential facilitiesat reduced capacity. Full occupancy of buildings is not acceptable for restart plans. Institutions must reduce density of residential living spaces to the extent practicable. Students with greatest need are prioritized for housing, given the reduced capacity. Common areas may open if the layout allows for social distancing and adherence to any state occupancy guidelines at that time.
  • Computer laboratories and libraries may open in a limited fashion in accordance with applicable state occupancy, health, and safety restrictions. Curbside pickup or delivery remains available.
  • In-person indoor dining facilities may open with a limited occupancy based on state guidelines in place at the time. Institutions must adhere to all CDC and DOH protocols. Takeout or "grab and go" options should remain available. Outside dining may continue pursuant to strict health and safety guidelines.

Throughout each stage, institutions must continue observing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) standards for social distancing (6 feet), sanitizing equipment and materials, handwashing, cleaning and disinfection, and accommodating individuals with symptoms or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.

In all stages, institutions with residential housing facilities must have a designated space for individuals who reside on campus and are quarantining or isolating with symptoms or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.

Institutions are instructed to require face coverings for faculty, staff, students, and visitors, except where doing so would inhibit the individual's health. Institutions must also remain flexible to modify operations as public health conditions change and the state shifts from one stage to the next.

For full details on the required safety measures, refer to OSHE's Restart Standards for all New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education.


Colleges and universities may hold modified in-person graduation ceremonies beginning July 6.

Drive-through/drive-in and modified in-person, outdoor ceremonies will be permitted subject to requirements for college/university commencement ceremonies.

Outdoor ceremonies must comply with the 500-person limit on outdoor gatherings. Social distancing must be in place, and face masks are required whenever social distancing is difficult to maintain.

To learn more about the requirements for in-person graduation ceremonies, refer to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education's (OSHE) guidance for colleges/universities.

All institutions that plan to hold modified in-person ceremonies must certify to OSHE – via an online submission form – that the planned ceremony will comply with applicable requirements for gatherings, including those addressing social distancing. The form must be submitted no later than seven days prior to the scheduled date of the ceremony.

Source:; Executive Order No. 161; Executive Order No. 163