The College of New Jersey will go all virtual in fall, a decision made as schools across the state mull their plans for returns to campuses and classrooms amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security listed Mercer County as a hot spot for the virus, along with Atlantic, Burlington and Camden counties, according to an ABC News report. Gloucester and Ocean counties were already on the list,

TCNJ president Kathryn A. Foster announced on Monday the Ewing campus would offer all its fall 2020 courses in remote mode only, with only a small number of residential students present, and it would further reduce in-person, on-campus activity.

She in a letter to the school community the change was "a disappointment in a season of them."

"From the outset of our planning this spring, we have followed the guiding principle that the health and safety of our community is paramount," Foster wrote. "In addition to state policy restricting what we can do this fall, we recognize numerous concerning factors, including the surge and resurgence of the virus nationally and locally, overburdened service and supply chains that interrupt our ability to satisfy health and safety protocols, and rising infection rates for younger people."

The school had already reduced its tuition by 3.5 percent for in-state undergraduates and 2.5 percent for out-of-state undergraduates out of concern for students and families impacted by the recession caused by the pandemic, Foster said.

Rider University, 10 minutes away in nearby Lawrenceville, also announced on Monday that unless Gov. Phil Murphy moves New Jersey to Stage 3 of his multi-phase reopening plan by "the end of the week of Aug. 10" the school will begin the academic year on Aug. 31 with fully remote instruction.

Stage 3 of the state's "Road Back" plan would allow for "most activities with significant safeguarding" including expanded dining, "critical" in-office work, expanded personal care and limited entertainment.

"Please trust that I understand how difficult this makes it for you to plan for the fall semester. Not knowing when we’ll move to Stage 3 presents mounting challenges for students, faculty, staff and families alike," University President Gregory G. Dell’Omo said in an email.

Monday when Murphy limited indoor gatherings to just 25, down from as much as 100, in response to a recent indoor house parties the governor said are partially to blame for an increase in the state's rate of coronavirus transmission.

The fall athletic season had already been canceled at both TCNJ and Rider.

The state's largest college, Rutgers University, said it would offer "a majority of remotely delivered courses with a limited number of in-person classes" during the fall semester.

Grade schools across the state are preparing to submit their reopening plans to the Department of Education in the face of more calls by parents, teachers and administrators to start classes virtually. Murphy said parents must have that option available but still supports a partial return to classrooms.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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