To the Campus Community,
I write to announce temporary changes to our COVID-19 on-campus protocol.
In the last two weeks, led by the Delta variant, the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has nearly doubled to over 118,000 a day. Although the sharp spike was at first confined to states in which vaccination rates were low, now all states are experiencing significant increases in cases and hospitalizations. Data compiled by the New York Times show New Jersey with a daily average of 1,320 new cases as of Wednesday, August 11, an 80% increase over the past two weeks.
Given these levels and trends, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends that everyone, vaccinated or not, wear masks indoors in places where case transmission is high or substantial, a classification that now fits 100 percent of New Jersey’s counties.
Accordingly, effective Monday, August 16, 2021, TCNJ requires all persons on campus, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors. This does not include employee use of private offices or students in their residence hall. In addition, any in-person mandates for one-on-one or small-group meetings, such as counseling, advising, office hours, or mentoring sessions, are hereby relaxed to allow such meetings to occur via Zoom or other medium when requested by a participant.
Classes will continue to be held in person. The Academic Affairs Readiness Task Force will provide guidance to faculty for navigating in-person instruction with masking requirements.
The higher transmission and quicker build-up of the Delta variant also prompts a change to our testing frequency. Effective Monday, August 30, 2021, students with an exemption and unvaccinated employees with or without an exemption who come to campus must get tested two times per week for Covid-19. Those individuals should continue their current testing frequency until August 30. You may schedule Covid-19 testing appointments with our partner, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, which administers tests in the Decker Hall Social Space on campus. Hours for the fall semester will be announced soon.
Let me emphasize that the enhanced masking requirement and other measures are temporary. We will continually monitor case metrics and will amend these new restrictions once case numbers and transmissibility fall to safer levels. We are heartened by data from Europe and other U.S. states that show rapid declines in case rates after a spike. We hope that this is our experience as well and that the campus community will live, work, and learn on campus this fall semester as originally planned.
With thanks for your continued cooperation,
Kathryn A. Foster