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Coronavirus Campus Communication 1/18/2022

Coronavirus Campus Communication 1/18/2022

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
Date: January 18, 2022
Re: Campus Communication on Coronavirus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We write to welcome new students and employees to Ramapo College and invite back our returning Roadrunners.  Ramapo’s Pandemic Assessment Team provides regular communications to you via Broadcast emails and through our College’s COVID-19 webpage. You can learn more about how the Pandemic Assessment Team continues to create a culture of preparedness in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 by reviewing the College’s Emergency Preparedness Plan.  The purpose of this email is to keep you informed about COVID-19, our expectations of you, and the College’s policies and procedures designed to slow the spread. The policies and procedures are captured in the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Operations Plan.

What is COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (hereafter CDC), COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2.  While most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, the virus may cause someone to become severely ill, which is especially possible for individuals with certain underlying medical conditions. Please be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 as well as emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Individuals who may need to consider extra precautions should be aware of the CDC guidance for at risk populations. Please call your medical provider for any symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.  We want you to make it your personal responsibility to remain aware of how COVID-19 impacts you, your loved ones, and your community.

Caring For Yourself and Others.

The health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff remain our top priority and why we require students to be aware of and sign the Student Code for Healthy Living and Learning. Faculty and staff are required to be aware of and sign the Ramapo College Employee Code for a Safe Working Environment. Students and employees are also required to participate in COVID-19 training, where the Codes are explained and your signature of agreement is required. We expect that you will be proactive and helpful toward minimizing the risk of COVID-19 spread on campus and anticipate your cooperation in abiding by preventative measures.  Returning students and employees do not need to re-submit the training or sign the Code, this is only required for new students and employees in Spring 2022.  Information for these individuals is forthcoming.  We encourage you to continue to partner with Health Services (for students) and Human Resources (for employees) by being honest and forthright in your COVID-19 health status, so that you can contribute toward safeguarding our community.

Variant Update

Viruses are known to change and mutate; therefore, variants are expected.  According to the CDC, the Omicron variant is causing the majority of the COVID-19 cases in the United States.  While the Omicron variant is causing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, including among those who are fully vaccinated, the College continues to rely upon mitigation strategies that have proven to keep our campus safe.  The Pandemic Assessment Team reviews campus and community statistics on a daily basis.   We are committed to introducing new safety measures, if the situation calls for it, that rest on data-driven decisions, prevailing health guidance, and through consultation with our local public health officials.

Vaccine, Booster, and Testing

Students: All students with an on-campus presence must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive approval through Health Services of a medical or religious exemption. Fully vaccinated students, who are eligible, must receive the booster dose by February 28, 2022 or they will not be eligible to enroll in future terms. The Student Immunization and Booster Requirement Policy and Procedure can be found here. Students should send evidence of their vaccine or booster to covidvaccine@ramapo.edu. Unvaccinated students, with a medical or religious exemption, are required to test through our  on-campus COVID-19 testing program. Unvaccinated residential students test 2x per week and unvaccinated commuter students test 1x per week.

Employees: Employees who are eligible for COVID-19 Boosters are required to provide Human Resources with certification of their booster to:  rcnjcovidvax@ramapo.edu.   Employees who do not provide proof of a booster by February 28, 2022, will be required to test on campus 1x per week which is consistent with our current vaccination protocol.

Employees who fail to complete weekly testing will be subject to progressive disciplinary action.

You are welcome to secure your own appointment for a vaccine/booster by exploring availability with providers who are local in your community.  Vaccine and Booster resources can be found here, by texting your zip code to 438829, or by calling 1-800-232-0233. The next on-campus vaccination/booster clinic date is February 9, 2022 and registration instructions are found here.

What to Do If You Are Sick

Follow these steps for non-emergencies:

  • Monitor your symptoms. COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms from mild to severe, which may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Monitor if you have a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • STAY HOME.  If you are an on-campus resident, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR RESIDENCE ROOM. If you are a commuter student with classes or events/activities on campus, DO NOT COME TO THE CAMPUS. Faculty and staff should stay home if they are sick.
  • Contact medical care. Students may call Health Services at 201-684-7536 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.  A member of the Health Services staff will consult with you about your symptoms and an appointment will be scheduled if needed.  Alternatively, you may call your own medical provider and report any changes in your health to Health Services.
  • For 24/7 assistance with medical information from healthcare professionals on symptoms, when to seek medical attention, and proper steps to take if exposed to COVID-19, call the 24-hour NJ Department of Health Hotline at 1-800-962-1253.

Follow these steps for emergencies:

  • Call 911 and notify the operator that you are seeking care for symptoms you suspect are COVID-19 related. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Emergency warning signs of COVID-19 are: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, grey, or blue colored skin, lips, or nail beds depending on skin tone (Note: This list does not include all possible symptoms, so please call your medical provider for any symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.)

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19

New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub includes information about where you can get tested for COVID-19. A listing of community medical providers conducting COVID-19 testing is found here. COVID-19 testing is offered in Health Services for symptomatic resident students and commuters who may already be on campus and experiencing illness Monday to Friday, 1pm to 4pm, by calling 201-684-7536.

The College offers surveillance testing for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff at the Overlook Hall.  Additional information and hours of operation can be found here. As long as you are not sick, you can drop in the Overlook for a test. Please bring a photo form of ID and insurance card. Testing plays a central role in our ability to manage the virus at Ramapo and beyond, so please consider taking control over your health and those around you by seeking a convenient COVID-19 test on campus.

The State of New Jersey and Vault Medical Services have partnered to offer at-home COVID-19 saliva testing for persons who believe they need to be tested, at no cost.  Ordering information can be found here.  The White House has also announced that every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. Additional information can be found here.   If you test positive on the at-home kit, please contact Health Services (for students) or Human Resources (for employees). You will be required to confirm the diagnosis through other testing, but we appreciate your consideration in letting us know your preliminary health status so we can provide you with College-specific guidance.

Reporting

If you are a student and have tested positive for COVID-19, are told by a medical provider you most likely have COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have a COVID-19 sick individual in your home, please follow these directions:

  • During Business Hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm), please contact Health Services at 201-684-7536 or email covidpositive@ramapo.edu.
  • After Business Hours: Please call Public Safety at 201-684-6666 so they may notify the on-call Health Services staff.

If you are a faculty or staff member and have tested positive for COVID-19, are told by a medical provider you most likely have COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have a COVID-19 sick individual in your home, please follow these directions:

  • Contact Jill Brown, Associate Director of Human Resources, at jcbrown@ramapo.edu, HR2020@ramapo.edu or 201-684-7507.

We ask you to come forward and talk with us, so that we can provide you with Ramapo-specific resources and guidance.  If any member of the community becomes aware of a student, faculty, or staff member with COVID-19 or who is under investigation for COVID-19, you may share this information with the above-named resources.

Daily Symptom Self-Screening

Symptom screening is a helpful way to self-identify if you may have an illness and should stay home and/or seek medical attention.  In order to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, we ask that you do your part and conduct a review every day of the Daily Symptom Self Screening for Students, Faculty, and Staff. Please follow the directions in the Self-Screening tool.

Isolation and Quarantine Guidelines

The College is following isolation and quarantine guidelines that were established by the NJ Department of Health on January 10, 2022.  You can find those guidelines here.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are required indoors. Please be sure to use face coverings that are well fitted and multi-layered (2 or more layers).  Everyone on campus, irrespective of vaccination status, must continue to wear a face covering indoors.

On January 14, 2022, the CDC provided updated guidance about the types of face coverings that offer the best protection, such as N95 or KN95 respirators.  It is recommended that you wear the most protective face covering or respirator, it should be well-fitted, and worn consistently and correctly.  When choosing a face covering, look at how well it fits. A face covering or respirator will be less effective if it fits poorly, if you wear it improperly, or if you remove it frequently.  The Face Covering Policy for Students and the Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy for Employees are evidence driven practices that help keep our community safe.   Face coverings are not required outdoors.  The College may require face coverings outdoors on campus, as may be necessary due to changing conditions or if an event has the potential to involve sustained close contact with others.

As you use the College’s dining facilities, please be sure to correctly and consistently wear a face covering, except when you are actively eating or drinking.  Everyone should wear their face covering when no longer eating or drinking.  You may also wish to use Sodexo’s Bite app for ordering food from our dining facilities in advance.

Travel Registry (International and Domestic)

If you are unvaccinated and must engage in international travel or domestic travel or are vaccinated and engaging in international travel, you are required to complete the College’s travel registry questionnaire found here. By completing the questionnaire, you enable the College to support you with the most current resources and College-specific directions for post-travel self-quarantining and COVID-19 testing. The global situation is continuously evolving. Please factor in current guidance from the CDC with respect to Domestic Travel and International Travel.

Prevention Information

Make it a point to review prevention information from the CDC on a daily basis.  The guidance may change, so we encourage you to take responsibility for your health and stay informed. Below is a summary of prevention steps, but please access the CDC site for more comprehensive information about prevention.

  • Get vaccinated and boosted. Authorized COVID-19 vaccines/boosters can help protect you against COVID-19.
  • Wear a well-fitted face covering.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Unvaccinated individuals are required to maintain 6 feet of social distance from others, when practical.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  If soap and water are not available, you can use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • In Residence Life, the Guest Policy (including overnight guests) and Social Gathering Policy are suspended for the Spring 2022 semester until further notice. Outside guests (including commuter students, non-students, family members, etc.) will not be permitted to enter the residence halls/apartments. Residents will be permitted to visit each other’s living units in the building/area in which they live.  More information is available here.
  • Stay home if you are sick (except to get medical care). Do not, under any circumstances, come to the campus if you are sick.
  • Always cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue (and throw it away) or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.  Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol immediately afterward.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces.
  • Always monitor your daily health and be alert for symptoms of COVID-19.

Mental Health Resources

If you are in need of assistance from a mental health professional, students may call Counseling Services at 201-684-7522 for 24/7 support.  For faculty and staff, the Human Resources Department has a number of resources available to you that can be found on the HR website.

Additional Resources:

  • Crisis Text Line:  Text HOME to 741741
  • Family Helpline (for stressed parents): Call 1-800-843-5437
  • Trevor Lifeline: Call 1-866-488-7386 (suicide prevention services to the LGBTQ community under 25 years old)
  • Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline: Call 1-877-330-6366
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-572-7233
  • Suicide Prevention Hopeline: Call 1-855-654-6735
  • Veterans in NJ Crisis line: Call 1-800-273-8255, Press 1
  • NJ Mental Health Cares Helpline: Call 1-866-202-4357

State of New Jersey General Resources

Ramapo Specific Resources

  • Health Services: 201-684-7536
  • Counseling Services: 201-684-7522 (24/7; including emergencies)
  • Human Resources: 201-684-7507
  • Roukema Center for International Education (for international students): 201-684-7533

We will continue to provide resource information on the Health Services website.  The College maintains a variety of COVID-19 dashboards.  Please review the dashboards to keep yourself informed of the COVID-19 positive cases we learn of that impact Ramapo College, as well as metrics involving the on-campus testing program, isolation/quarantine beds in use, and to view an anticipated new dashboard reflecting COVID-19 vaccination and booster statistics.

We ask that you reflect on the fundamentals of personal responsibility and take what has been asked of you seriously. Working together to stay safe is how we maintain the vibrancy of our campus.

Sincerely,

Melissa Van Der Wall
Dean of Students
Pandemic Assessment Team, chair

Debra Lukacsko, MSN, BA, RN, APN, C
Associate Director of Health Services
Pandemic Assessment Team, member