Coronavirus cases have increased over the last few weeks at NJCU. As of January 8th, there are a total of 119 positive cases within the university.
63 of those cases are from commuter students, and six cases among students in the residence halls. Another 50 of the cases stem from faculty and staff members.
In response to cases within the dorms, Phoebe Allen, an Illustration major said, “From what I heard is if someone gets covid the entire building gets sent home. My problem is I would give it to my father who is immune-compromised. I would rather be quarantined in my dorm than get sent home.”
Priscilla Hatchett, an honors sophomore said, “I’m usually a dorm student but due to the virus, I did not feel safe on campus so I opted to stay home.”
However, Jodi Bailey, the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs said, “We do not have all residents move home if there is a positive case in the residence halls. Students who test positive or need to quarantine have the option to remain in the halls or to go home for isolation based on their need and level of comfort. Anyone who tests positive or needs to quarantine who remains in the halls will be isolated in their room or in a quarantine space, depending on whether or not they have roommates. Food is delivered and any supplies they need are provided.”
In an email interview, Bailey explained what NJCU has implemented so far:
“Daily health assessments for all student-athletes and students who have classes or live on campus
Daily temperature monitoring in high traffic locations
Weekly surveillance testing for all faculty, staff, and students on campus starting December 2nd
Daily reminders for all to self-monitor
Contact tracers to work with reported concerns
Assistance with classes for students who are ill through Dean of Students Office
Enhanced cleaning protocols for all NJCU buildings & offices
New technology in classes across campus to increase hyflex capabilities
Face mask distributions through SGA for all students”
Junior Naomi Yamada-Padilla, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Women and Gender Studies said she went to campus and there was a concern regarding the cleaning protocols, “ I visited the Computer Lab on November 20th because I needed to print out scholarly articles for my research papers. Upon entering, I did not see anyone sitting behind the front desk. I sat down to do my computer work and saw the faded and curled up sticker that was on the desk requesting students utilizing the computer to wipe down the computer before and after use. During my time in the lab, about 2-3 students left prior, however, I do not recall that any of them wiped down the computer that was used. Gross!! The computer that I used did not look as though it had been wiped down because the desk was dusty and dirty.”
Padilla explained it was also difficult to complete her school work, “I was diagnosed with COVID-19 last semester and I came to the painful realization that SOME professors can be insensitive and indifferent when it comes to granting accommodations to complete any unfinished assignments and/or final exams.”
In contrast, Katha Patel, a freshmen and Biology major said she has not gone to campus at all, “All my classes are online. I was following up with all the updates regarding COVID from the President of NJCU. There are many precautions and safety on campus. Looking at students who go on campus are feeling safe because NJCU also provided FREE masks so that everyone can be safe on campus.”
Surveillance Testing and COVID-19 Alert App
In a recent email in mid-December by NJCU communications, the university has taken the approach to begin surveillance testing on campus due to the growing cases. This type of testing is commonly used for individuals that are COVID positive but also asymptomatic.
NJCU communications said, “Our testing strategy’s risk-assessment focus means that testing will not be required or recommended for all employees or students. The university COVID Response Team will determine which groups of students or employees should be recommended and/or required to complete testing through the NJCU COVID-19 testing program.”
An email sent to the NJCU community on January 8th revealed that surveillance testing will begin once again during the week of the 11th. Students can register for an in-person appointment on Monday morning, the 11th, to be tested starting from January 12th to January 14th. For more information on registration, please refer to your emails.
When asked about the COVID-19 Alert NJ app, Ira Thor, the Senior Director of University Communications/University Spokesperson said, “ The COVID Alert NJ anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It’s completely private and anonymous. The app will work seamlessly with other exposure notifications in the region, including such neighboring states as New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It also provides the state’s most up-to-date information and allows you to track your symptoms. The app’s effectiveness to help everyone depends on collective participation — the more people who use it, the more effective it will be.”
COVID Cases in the State
According to Nj.com, as of January 7th, New Jersey has reported 5,028 new positive cases and 104 more deaths. As of January 6th, there are 504,647 confirmed cases and 17,464 confirmed deaths in New Jersey.
In the month of December, there were 1,225 deaths due to the virus. However, about 8,704 vaccine doses were distributed to healthcare workers in late December and early January.
As of August 1, the Department of Health reported that there have been 98 COVID outbreaks at NJ schools and 428 positive cases were linked to those outbreaks.
Plans to Reopen Campus
Despite the rising cases, NJCU will remain open. Through Ira Thor, Dr. Tamara Jhashi, the Provost and Senior Vice President said, “ The NJCU campus has never closed. We have remained open all throughout the pandemic and plan to be open unless notified otherwise by an executive order from the Governor.”
Hatchett, the honors student explained, “ In regards to the next semester, all classes should be online due to the rising numbers in COVID. I understand that online learning isn’t ideal for countless reasons, however for right now it is the best we can do.”
In regards to the mode of instruction for the upcoming semesters, Dr. Jhansi added, “Winter and spring will operate the same as the fall semester. There is no additional announcement regarding modes of instruction at this time. Classes are coded with the appropriate designation for mode of instructions.”
Check out the following link for more information about Covid cases at NJCU, https://www.njcu.edu/student-life/campus-services-resources/health-wellness-center/safe-campus/reported-covid-19-cases