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Coronavirus Campus Communication 12/22/2020

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
Date: December 22, 2020
Re: Campus Communication on Coronavirus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

We write to share this final Fall 2020 semester update with you about the historic administering of the first COVID-19 vaccine and to outline prevention and resources around winter gatherings, travel, and stress and coping.

In February 2020, the Pandemic Assessment Team sent a community-wide message to students, faculty, and staff to provide information about intensifying reports of the coronavirus.  In early March, the first presumptive COVID-19 case was identified in New Jersey.  Since then, New Jersey has reported over 400,000 cumulative total cases and over 16,000 COVID-19-related deaths. We mourn those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 or have complications from the virus, feel for those who have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive and recovered, and remain empathetic to those who have experienced other consequences caused by the pandemic.  We recognize that the virus continues to impinge upon people’s livelihoods, routines, health, food systems, the public health infrastructure and affect individuals who must take extra precautions to prevent infection.

On December 15, a momentous step was taken in New Jersey toward fighting the pandemic.  A health care worker from University Hospital in Newark was administered the COVID-19 vaccine. At present, the plan, is to administer the vaccine first to health care workers and long-term care residents, as they are deemed to be the most vulnerable.  The Pandemic Assessment Team will continue to communicate as more information becomes available about access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising, so please continue to take steps to slow the spread: wear a face covering, maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from others, frequently wash your hands, avoid crowds, and stay home if you are sick or have been exposed to the virus.

Winter Gatherings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the safest way to gather is at home with people who live with you.  The CDC offers guidance about Winter Holidays and Small Gatherings.  Please consult with the guidance document to decide the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones. Governor Murphy has issued Executive Order 196, which states that the number of individuals at indoor gatherings is limited to no more than 10 persons. As a reminder to resident students, the guest and visitation and social gathering policies remain suspended.

The State of New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub provides further guidance on safe practices for gatherings and has emphasized that extra precautions should be taken for gatherings. The NJ Department of Health has also issued guidance related to gatherings. If you choose to gather, please do so in a safe and responsible way and review these guidance documents to help you make decisions that are best for you and your loved ones.

Travel

Due to the rising level of COVID-19 cases across all states, the State of New Jersey continues to strongly discourage all non-essential interstate travel at this time. Students (commuter and resident) and employees are reminded that if you must engage in personal, international travel (to any country) or domestic travel to any state or territory except NY, CT, PA, and DE, you are required to submit the College’s travel registry questionnaire. Students and employees will be required to self-quarantine, off campus and be cleared for return to campus by Debra Lukacsko, Associate Director of Health Services (students) or Jill Brown, Associate Director of Human Resources (employees).

If you must travel, consider getting tested for COVID-19 with a viral test 1 to 3 days before the trip and again 3 to 5 days after your trip. Additional information can be found on the COVID-19 Information and Updates page.

Stress and Coping

Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for many people.  You may feel sad and anxious especially because the pandemic has changed the way you typically spend time with others particularly during the holiday season. As stated by the CDC, fear and anxiety about the virus and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.  We encourage you to find healthy ways to cope with the pandemic and, if you are struggling, please connect with the below resources:

  • Students may call Counseling Services at 201-684-7522 for 24/7 support.
  • Faculty and staff may contact the Human Resources Department. There are a number of resources available to you that can be found on the HR website and on the HR wellness website
  • Crisis Text Line:  Text “NJ” 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
  • CDC’s Coping with Stress Guidance

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19

New Jersey’s COVID-19 Information Hub, has information about where you can get tested for COVID-19. Below, are local community providers who have COVID-19 testing capabilities.

City MD, Ramsey 551-497-5679
City MD, Paramus 551-222-0800
Doctor’s Inn, Ramsey 201-785-0011
The Doctor’s Office, Midland Park 201-857-8400
Rite Aid, Waldwick, 201-670-1022
Synergy Health, Montvale 201-677-8680
Valley Health Urgent Care, Mahwah  1-800-Valley1
CVS, Mahwah 201-529-5930

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

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.

The administering of the first vaccine in New Jersey makes us feel optimistic, but we cannot let our guard down.  Please stay vigilant in your efforts to stay safe against the virus.  The virus has made friendship, kindness, and compassion even more important during this time as we find our way through.  We know our Roadrunner spirit is strong and that the core values of friendship provide care, trust, and empathy in the midst of the disruptions to daily life we have come to endure. Thank you for all that you do to support and understand one another, #weareRCNJ.

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