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

Last Updated: 03/01/2021

Institutions of higher education may resume all in-person instruction in accordance with the safety requirements and guidance outlined by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and Executive Order No. 155.

Institutions must provide students with the option of participation via remote instruction to the extent practicable.

In addition, computer labs at private and public colleges and universities may reopen so long as they adhere to the required safety protocols detailed in Administrative Order No. 2020-17 and OSHE-submitted restart plans.

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.

Safety Requirements

The following summarizes some of the protocols contained in Executive Order No. 155 and OSHE's Restart Standards for all New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education. However, this summary is not a replacement for fully complying with the terms of EO 155 and OSHE's Restart Standards, and institutions should read the full guidance carefully to ensure full compliance.

Institutes of higher education must create policies and procedures that include:

  • Use of face coverings for faculty, staff, students, and visitors, except when doing so would inhibit the individual's health
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitization of classrooms, residences, restrooms, high-touch areas,equipment and shared surfaces
  • Maintenance of adequate supplies, such as personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies
  • Continued remote instruction for faculty and/or students who are unable to participate in in-person instruction
  • Social distancing in classrooms, residence halls, restrooms, and other areas across campus
  • Limitations on the number of students who may return to residence halls and restricted access to residential common areas
  • Designation of space(s) for separation of individuals residing on campus who display symptoms consistent with or have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19
  • A plan for on-campus transportation, which should include protocols for transporting sick students residing on campus to essential appointments as needed

In addition, institutions will be responsible for establishing screening and testing protocols on their campus for employees and students. As access to testing and testing reliability changes, institutions will need to update their protocols.

For a full list of safety requirements and procedures, refer to the OSHE's Restart Standards for all New Jersey Institutions of Higher Education.

Note: Beginning November 5, employers must adhere to new employee protection guidelines, summarized here. Detailed requirements, as well as exemptions for certain employers, can be found in Executive Order No. 192.

Pandemic Support for Colleges and Universities

Governor Murphy has announced $29.5 million in federal funding will be available to New Jersey's institutions of higher education amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to implement best practices that increase college completion, address barriers to student success, and develop sustainable systemic reforms as well as combating food insecurity among students.

For more information, refer to the Governor's press release.

Source:; Administrative Order No. 2020-17; Executive Order No. 175