With gratitude to the campus community, I am pleased to report a meaningful decline in the then-increasing number of positive virus cases that I addressed in my campus message of February 28, 2021. In the past 14 days, we recorded 30 positive on-campus cases and 22 off-campus cases, with generally declining positivity rates, indicators more encouraging than we have seen since early in the semester. Thank you for doing your part to keep these numbers in check.
As a consequence of the promising metrics, and with thanks to those involved, we are making several adjustments to campus protocol or practice.
- As indicated in a detailed message to residential students, effective Monday, March 15, 2021 students may have up to one masked resident from their building or townhouse in their room (up to two guests in apartments that house two or more residents).
- We have expanded Brower Student Center hours as follows: Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.. The Food Court will now open at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, with OBC and Pizza open until 9 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Food Court closes on Fridays at 4 p.m.
- In response to student requests for more places to study in the evening, the R. Barbara Gitenstein Library will open the Extended Study Area (first floor area of the library adjacent to the Alumni Grove) and Labs 2 and 5 on the lower level from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. Extended hours will go into effect in coming weeks as we procure student workers.
While we are encouraged by these new flexibilities, we emphasize the continued importance of following Roscoe’s Pledge and remaining vigilant about personal and group health and safety. A concerning rise in positive cases or behavioral violations will require us to reverse these adjustments.
On the testing front, I am pleased to report that all faculty, staff, and students on campus are participating in mandatory weekly COVID testing. Those new to the testing protocol will soon receive additional guidance from campus officials and our testing partner, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. Residential students will continue to be tested for the virus two times per week.
Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 230, announced yesterday, provides new indoor and outdoor gathering limits in New Jersey. We are reviewing the executive order in anticipation of receiving modified guidance from the state for higher education institutions.
Many of you have asked about Commencement 2021. Let me confirm that we anticipate a series of in-person outdoor ceremonies organized by academic school. The commencement committee, which is working closely with Senior Class officers, will provide more detail in coming weeks. You may follow progress at commencement.tcnj.edu.
Finally, please be reminded that Thursday, March 18, 2021 is a spring break day with no classes held. We will have a second spring break day on Tuesday, March 30.
Repeatedly over this week’s beautiful spring days I thought to myself, “we needed this.” Winter can be long and dark in the best of times, but it is particularly challenging in our physically distanced, isolating pandemic times. I hope you had a chance to enjoy the mid-semester thaw and look with enthusiasm to the second half of this memorable semester and time.
With optimism and appreciation,
Kathryn A. Foster