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Coronavirus Campus Communication 3/3/2022

Coronavirus Campus Communication 3/3/2022

To: Students, Faculty and Staff
Date: March 3, 2022
Re: Campus Communication on Coronavirus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

The purpose of this message is to provide an update on the College’s indoor face covering requirement.

While Governor Murphy has lifted the State-imposed face covering requirement for K-12 schools and child care settings effective March 7th and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued revised guidance as of February 25th, Colleges and Universities have the responsibility and authority to implement their own health and safety measures to best slow the spread of COVID-19 based on their context.

At this time, the indoor face covering requirement remains in effect for Ramapo College. We anticipate transitioning to be “face covering friendly” in certain areas on March 28. We believe this date provides us an opportunity to ensure that we are accounting for the potential impact of COVID-19 as a result of travel during Spring Break.  March 28 also provides transition time to prepare for our community’s face-covering friendly stance. However, we will continue to consider context and monitor conditions as that date nears. More information about the date and the transition will be forthcoming.

The College is committed to the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions in a manner that allows us to monitor data and conditions related to the transmission of COVID-19 in our community and make thoughtful, deliberate, and data-driven decisions.  At present, the community transmission levels of COVID-19 are the lowest they have been in the Northeast region of NJ since September 2020, and the College’s COVID-19 reported cases are also minimal, as reported on the public-facing dashboard.  The CDC’s revised guidance as of February 25th measures community levels of COVID-19 transmission whereby Bergen County and surrounding areas are designated as low.  While these metrics indicate that the transmission of COVID-19 and its impact on our community members is subsiding, we must also be mindful of Ramapo-specific scenarios that help inform our decisions, such as Spring Break Week (March 14 – March 18) representing a time when many students, staff, and faculty may travel.

Should we become “face covering friendly” on March 28, what does that mean?

  • Any person who wishes to continue to wear a face covering after March 28, may do so free from judgment. A face covering friendly campus recognizes that all persons determine what is best for them while being empathetic to the vulnerability and risk that those in our diverse community may be managing.
  • The transition to “face covering friendly” will come with conditions because it may still be appropriate for a face covering to be worn in certain areas and under certain circumstances. Students, faculty, and staff will be expected to have a face covering available for use in spaces where certain circumstances may apply. More information on this front will be communicated later this month.
  • Students, faculty, and staff who are at high-risk or immunocompromised should consult with their medical provider for individualized guidance.
  • Face coverings will be required to be worn by any student, faculty, or staff who test positive for COVID-19, is identified as a close contact, or is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.  All are required to report these conditions. Information for reporting is found here.
  • Face coverings are required to be worn by those who have left self-isolation/quarantine and those individuals should follow the directions from Health Services or Human Resources regarding the required number of days to wear a face covering.

Optimal Face Covering Protection
On January 14, 2022, the CDC provided updated guidance about the types of face coverings that offer the best protection, which include N95 or KN95 respirators.  It is recommended that you wear the most protective face covering or respirator, make sure it fits well, and wear it consistently and correctly. 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 College offers N95 respirators for sale at the Bookstore.

Face Coverings and Travel
As per Federal mandates, face coverings continue to be required on all forms of public transportation and at transportation hubs. Face coverings are required of all travelers on College vans, buses (College-operated and other), and any College-sponsored trips via air or train.  The College is aware that the mandate expires on March 18, 2022 and will be actively monitoring virus transmission data and expert guidance in the upcoming weeks.

What is Next?
The Pandemic Assessment Team will continue to evaluate conditions to identify opportunities where restrictions, specifically the use of face coverings indoors, can safely be relaxed. We are cautious about the potential for transmission of the virus after Spring Break and intend to closely monitor campus conditions.  The Team is committed to advancing fact based recommendations that loosen restrictions when it is reasonable to do so. We look forward to a post-Spring Break community with COVID-19 data that shows evidence of a healthy community that can live, learn, and work together.

Sincerely,

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