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University closes Complex residence halls in late night announcement

The University announced late Friday night in an email to students the closure of Serra, Neumann, and Cabrini residence halls for the fall 2020 semester, along with other adjustments to its reopening plan.

The announcement, which also clarifies quarantine and testing requirements, comes one day after University President Dr. Joseph Nyre announced that the University’s long-planned “Hybrid Flexible” model of instruction would be delayed until New Jersey moves to Stage Three of its reopening process. Additional updates about the status of campus facilities are also included in the email after the failure of N.J. to move to Stage Three left many details of the University’s 69-page Restart Plan up in the air.

“We are a resilient community; we know we will share in the success of Seton Hall's 165th academic year. It will be a year like no other, but we are — and will remain — prepared,” Vice President of Student Services Dr. Shawna Cooper-Gibson said in the late night email. 

Serra, Neumann, and Cabrini, collectively known as “The Complex,” will be closed for the semester, “to accommodate the quarantine order and reserve limited resources.”

“Unfortunately, this will mean we will need to change existing room assignments of several students,” the email says. 

The Complex typically houses approximately 550 upper-class students. It is not clear how closing the dorms will fit within the School’s plan to de-densify the residence halls, which led to a ban on triple dorms in June, which helped to reduce occupancy on campus by 306 beds for the fall. 

The school has also closed Ora Manor, which typically houses 103 upperclassmen, to be used as a quarantine facility for infected and exposed students, who the email says “should quarantine/isolate at home if possible.” 

Nyre’s Thursday announcement said that students from the 35 states which N.J. has announced voluntary self-quarantine orders against will be provided with single-occupancy rooms to isolate for 14 days. A previous plan, which requested that students quarantine at home before move-in, was invalidated by the state. 

Friday’s email noted that the decision to close the Complex was informed partly by this new plan to provide individual rooms for many out-of-state students, but does not explicitly state that these students will be given Complex rooms for their voluntary quarantine, nor does it outline how individual quarantine rooms will be assigned. It also is unclear whether all would-be Complex residents, with their original housing plans now unavailable, will be able to live in a dorm with the roommates they had selected.

“We will do our best to accommodate roommate requests, but it is not guaranteed,” the email says. “We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.”

It is currently unclear how many students have requested housing on-campus, or whether the number of residents exceeds the number of beds, with four of the University’s eight residential facilities now closed.

Friday’s email also updated testing plans, stating that all residents will be tested upon arriving on campus

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“Testing is being provided to students through the University’s Health Services free of insurance copays and free of charge for students whose insurance does not cover testing,” the email said.
The announcement also states that the athletic center will also be closed until Stage Three, as gyms are currently not allowed to be open to the public. 

Daniel O’Connor can be reached at Find him on twitter @itsDanOConnor.


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