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Coronavirus Campus Communication 12/21/2021 – Official Message from the Office of the President

Coronavirus Campus Communication 12/21/2021 – Official Message from the Office of the President

Dear Colleagues,

Today is the final day of our Fall 2021 semester and there are only 12 days until the new year. I write to share with you information about how we are planning to start the Spring 2022 semester.

In order to deliver over 90% of our courses in person or hybrid and welcome over 1,700 residential students come January, we continue to adhere to our 6 priorities. As such, we are paying very close attention to the presence of the COVID-19 virus and its variants and we remain guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regional health officials, and other expert resources.

An uptick of COVID-19 cases in our region, nation, and across the globe is expected. While this increase may be reminiscent of March 2020, this is not March 2020. As a community, throughout the past 21 months, we have endured a great deal and we have learned a great deal. I realize that everyone is working and living under extraordinary circumstances, and some members of our community have witnessed trauma or have experienced it themselves. So, while none of us wish to repeat the past 21 months, we may derive some comfort in knowing the following:

  • Vaccination. We now have the COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots and the majority of our students and colleagues are vaccinated.
  • Testing. The College now has a weekly, required COVID-19 surveillance testing program for unvaccinated students, employees with waivers, and student-athletes; and any member of our campus who wishes to voluntarily know their health status can participate in surveillance testing. Further, the results of surveillance testing are acted upon by relevant College staff the same day results are received.
  • Contact Tracing. In addition to assessing and reporting the testing data, our Contact Tracing Unit uses this data to identify and isolate cases as well as identify close contacts to COVID-19 transmissions. Our contact tracing operations have been essential toward slowing the spread and will continue.

The anticipated increase in cases can, in part, be attributed to the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant paired with the likelihood of super-spreader events. While the Delta variant continues to persist, the CDC reported yesterday that the main variant circulating in the United States is now the Omicronwhich appears to spread very easily. Also, holiday gatherings, coupled with global celebrations on New Year’s Eve, have the very real potential to be super-spreader events, and we are keen to mitigate any on-campus transmission that may follow from community members who participate in these events. For these reasons and, in keeping with our 6 priorities, the College will operate as follows:

As always, we will continue to monitor conditions and, should a shift to our operations be warranted, we will be well-prepared to communicate in advance and adapt.

In addition to being adaptable, in order to foster a healthy, well, and safe environment for work and study, we must also continue to be empathetic. Our ongoing compliance with health and safety protocols (face coverings, frequent handwashing, daily symptom self-screening, staying home if you are feeling ill, etc.) as well as securing a vaccine/booster are our best strategies to care for one another, to prevent transmission, and to mitigate serious illness. I am pleased to share that all of the appointments at our on-campus vaccine/booster clinic this week were booked and January clinic dates are being added, so continue to check the site for those updates.

Finally, continued compliance with our surveillance testing and contact tracing is so important. Please, adhere to your testing requirements on campus and remember that, if you test positive for COVID-19 or are identified as a close contact, your timely replies to related inquiries helps keep others safe. As a reminder, a close contact is defined as “someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. As per the local health department, the correct and consistent use of a proper face covering indoors may mean that a person is not considered a close contact to a case.” This helpful definition, in addition to a comprehensive FAQ, compilation of support resources, archive of related campus communications, and our COVID-19 Dashboard are all available at www.ramapo.edu/health/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Please heed these protocols and stay informed through these resources so we can continue to be bold, kind, and good teammates who truly take care of one another.

Cindy Jebb
President