Dear TCNJ Students,
Over 10 recent days of testing on campus, the college saw 67 positive student cases of COVID-19, yielding over 200 close contacts. I had hoped that one month into the semester we would have settled into a new normal where everyone was following the public health protocols that were put in place to ensure the well-being of our community. Instead, we’ve seen sustained and frustrating non-compliance, on and off-campus, resulting in a concerning number of COVID-19 cases, close contacts in quarantine, and student conduct cases.
My message is a simple but critical one: We need your help to bring down the number of cases immediately, as this testing high positivity rate will not allow us to sustain the flexible learning environment currently offered. I ask you to take personal responsibility. While we know COVID-19 can spread even among those who are taking precautions, our contact tracing reveals that this spike in cases is directly linked to students gathering in large numbers, not wearing masks, and ignoring social distance protocols.
In an effort to lower transmission, the college will be implementing twice-weekly testing for all students living in campus residence halls. In addition, we will strictly enforce health and safety protocols (e.g., masking, testing, and social distancing requirements) with serious consequences for noncompliance.
We will continue to monitor our numbers carefully. If within the next two weeks we do not see a decrease or if the numbers continue to increase, we will have no choice but to implement within this period a campus shelter-in-place directive. This would involve the following:
All flex classes would temporarily be offered in remote-only mode.
On-campus students would be required to remain in residence halls for all but essential activities.
Off-campus students would be prohibited from coming onto campus except for research and work responsibilities.
Access to Brower Student Center, R. Barbara Gitenstein Library, and the fitness center as well as other privileges would be restricted.
We would not take these potential next steps lightly; rather, we would have determined that such action is necessary to protect the health and safety of the larger TCNJ community. We worked diligently to provide a spring flex semester that allowed in-person learning and on-campus living because we heard from you, our TCNJ students, that this option was an important one. Now I ask you in return to do your part to follow public health protocols and campus guidelines. These are in place to ensure your health and that of fellow students, the broader Ewing community, as well as the faculty and staff you interact with on campus.
By taking important steps now to improve compliance—especially limiting gatherings and participating in testing—we can slow the spread of the virus. Should this happen, I look forward to the possibility of making encouraging changes, beginning with widening the guest policy to allow on-campus students to welcome another student from the same residence hall floor. Thank you for working with me and each other to turn around the current trend of positive cases and have a successful and safe rest of the semester.