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Coronavirus Campus Communication 1/20/2021

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
Date: January 20, 2021
Re: Campus Communication on Coronavirus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We write to share information about the development of COVID-19 variants, the COVID-19 vaccine, and testing for Ramapo College residents and student athletes. The virus is continuing to spread in our community and beyond as summarized through the NJ Department of Health. According to the State Health Commissioner, 50% or more of the State’s recent infections may have been transmitted by people with no symptoms (a stark change from earlier reports of 30-40%). Please do not let your daily vigilance toward combatting COVID-19 weaken. We urge you to continue to take steps to slow the spread of COVID-19: wear a face covering, maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from others, frequently wash your hands, avoid crowds and large indoor gatherings, and stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to the virus.  Please remember to consult with the College’s Daily Symptom Self Screening.

New COVID-19 Variants
Viruses change and mutate, so we can expect for new variants of the virus to arise over time.  At present, multiple variants of COVID-19, are circulating around the world and have been detected in the United States.  While there are no known cases of variants in New Jersey, Governor Murphy has advised that we should assume the variants are present and continue to comply with the same safety measures to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Since the variants are significantly more contagious, we know that a higher rate of transmission will lead to increased cases and a strain on our public health systems.  You can track the transmission of COVID-19 variants state-by-state here.

COVID-19 Vaccine
Efforts to administer and expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine are underway with doses available for the general public predicted by April or May. The CDC has information available to explain the COVID-19 vaccine. New Jersey is rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine in a phased approach.   If you are interested in receiving the vaccine, please discuss with your medical provider and consult the NJ COVID-19 Information hub for eligibility within the phases.   You can be notified as to when you are eligible to receive the vaccine by pre-registering here.  Please remember that the State’s pre-registration site is not linked to the local health systems that are offering the vaccine.  As such, the vaccine is available at locations throughout the state including local health departments, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Appointments and supplies are limited, so if you are interested and eligible for the vaccine be sure to monitor the above website. NJ’s COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center, (855) 568-0545 is expected to be available 8am to 8pm starting the week of January 25. For residents outside of New Jersey, please check with your local Board of Health in your county.

COVID-19 Testing for Residents and Athletes
In order to advance the College’s plan to offer safer options for living and learning, Spring 2021 COVID-19 entry testing and weekly surveillance testing will be required for all residential students.  Baseline entry testing for residents adds an extra level of protection to our residential community and may assist in identifying COVID-19 activity before it becomes a cluster event in our residential areas.  As part of the testing program, 25% of resident students will participate in weekly surveillance testing to be administered by a third-party business partner, Visit Healthcare.  Beginning the week of January 25, a resident student will test once every 4 weeks. The College reserves the right to make changes to the testing program based upon prevailing public health conditions on campus and in the community at large.  FAQs about the resident testing program can be found here.

Reporting
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, have been told you most likely have COVID-19 by a medical provider, have been tested and are awaiting results for COVID-19, have a COVID-19 sick individual in your home, or have been identified as a close contact please immediately contact the below-mentioned College staff.  The College requires 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 with COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19, you may share this information with Debra Lukacsko (for students) or Jill Brown (for employees).

Additional Resources:
Call 211 for General COVID-19 Questions (24/7)
Call 1-800-962-1253 for Medical COVID-19 Questions (24/7)
Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive alerts
Download COVID Alert NJ app here
New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub has information about where you can get tested for COVID-19.

The Pandemic Assessment Team provides resource information on the Health Services website.  Please bookmark the Health Services website and continue to keep yourself informed of the COVID-19 positive cases we learn of that impact Ramapo College and to access a dashboard listing the on-campus self-isolation/quarantine beds in use.  We are very proud of the work you have all done to protect yourself and support each other during this pandemic and look ahead to continued safeguarding as we enter into the new semester.

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