By Sean Leonard
With 120 cases of Covid-19 in students this semester, including 67 cases over the past 10 days, President Foster expressed frustration in a Feb. 28 email reminding students to practice safe health protocols.
“I had hoped that one month into the semester we would have settled into a new normal where everyone was following the public health protocols that were put in place to ensure the well-being of our community,” Foster wrote. “Instead, we’ve seen sustained and frustrating non-compliance, on and off campus, resulting in a concerning number of COVID-19 cases, close contacts in quarantine, and student conduct cases.”
Along with the 67 new positive Covid-19 cases, 200 close contacts were identified over the last ten days. According to the Covid-19 Dashboard, the month of February brought 122 total positive cases consisting of 79 on-campus students, 41 off-campus students and 2 employees.
Foster said this is the result of non-compliance among the student population both on and off campus, and that the College community needs to take personal responsibility to decrease the recent spike in cases.
“While we know Covid-19 can spread even among those who are taking precautions, our contact tracing reveals that this spike in cases is directly linked to students gathering in large numbers, not wearing masks, and ignoring social distance protocols,” Foster said.
Per Foster’s email, on-campus students will now be tested twice-weekly instead of once per week, and the College will be issuing serious consequences for not complying with safety protocols. It is unclear if the testing center will expand hours or increase employees to reach the new demand.
Foster also said that if a decrease in cases does not occur within the next two weeks, a campus shelter-in-place order will be implemented.
Shelter-in-place would include:
- All flex classes being taught remotely
- On-campus students being required to remain in their dorms except for essential activities
- Off-campus students being prohibited from coming to campus unless it is for work or research.
- Restricted access to the Brower Student Center, library and fitness center
“We worked diligently to provide a spring flex semester that allowed in-person learning and on-campus living because we heard from you, our TCNJ students, that this option was an important one. Now I ask you in return to do your part to follow public health protocols and campus guidelines,” Foster said.
Even though this has been a difficult obstacle for the spring semester, Foster said she is looking forward to allowing on-campus students to have guests from their residence hall floors in their rooms, as long as the spread of the virus slows down with better safety compliance.
“By taking important steps now to improve compliance — especially limiting gatherings and participating in testing — we can slow the spread of the virus,” she said. “Should this happen, I look forward to the possibility of making encouraging changes, beginning with widening the guest policy to allow on-campus students to welcome another student from the same residence hall floor.”