Princeton Scraps Plan to Return Undergraduates to Campus

Princeton University reversed its plan to bring some of its students back on campus for the next term, saying undergraduate classes won’t be held in person because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision means undergraduates from the classes of 2022 and 2024 will not come to campus in late August as previously planned, the school said.

“In light of the diminished benefits and increased risks currently associated with residential education amid New Jersey’s battle against the pandemic, we have decided that our undergraduate program should be fully remote in the fall semester of 2020,” Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in a letter to the university community.

With the next term just weeks away, schools across the U.S. are rushing to remake the higher-education experience for the Covid-19 era. Many are seeking ways to reopen empty dorms and classrooms or shifting to a mix of in-person and virtual classes so they can both safely educate students and protect their own financial health.

Princeton last month outlined plans to return undergraduates in shifts, saying most academic instruction would stay online.

In his letter, Eisgruber said: “This combination of health concerns and restrictions will significantly diminish the educational value of the on‑campus experience. It will also render that experience confining and unpleasant for most students.”

Exceptions will be made for a “very limited” number of students with special circumstances, he said. The university hasn’t made a final decision regarding its spring term.

New Jersey had to pause its plan to avoid the spikes of infection that occurred in other states as they reopened, Eisgruber said.

The Ivy League school previously announced a 10% tuition cut to $48,501 for the 2020-21 academic year, along with other measures to reduce costs, but won’t be making any further changes to the price of attendance, spokesman Michael Hotchkiss said in an emailed statement.

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