By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez
After a year of coronavirus lockdowns and needed protocols, FDU President Christopher Capuano sees the comforting prospect that COVID-19 vaccines offer, he says in an interview with The Equinox.
“I strongly encourage everyone to get a vaccination,” Capuano said in a video interview. “If everyone is vaccinated, when we come back in the fall, we’ll be in much better shape and we’ll be able to do much more on campus.”
Capuano cited concern for the existence of positive cases on both New Jersey campuses and said the university is determined to lower the university’s infection rate that it has logged consistently to below the 1.1% mark.
“The virus is still out there, we have variants now in our region, but the good news is: We have vaccines,” he said.
While Capuano encourages vaccination, there is no vaccine mandate for FDU — yet. Rutgers University announced March 25 that its student body must show proof of vaccination in order to return to campus in the fall.
Reflecting on a Year Like No Other
Capuano recalled the anxiety surrounding the virus in February 2020, especially with the travel restrictions affecting all students at the Wroxton (U.K.) campus.
While some schools had spring break earlier, he says the timing of FDU’s spring break last year and the shift to remote learning was a benefit to prevent unnecessary travel.
In the 2020 fall semester, FDU’s plans to reopen the N.J. campuses were shelved pending a go-ahead from N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy. That OK never came.
“Our plans were all predicated on getting to Stage 3, but we never got there. We still haven’t officially gotten to Stage 3 in New Jersey,” Capuano said.
Eventually, universities were allowed to proceed after modifying their plans; yet FDU stayed mostly remote in order to mitigate the risk level, Capuano said.
Overall, Capuano said that the past year’s shifts in procedures yielded some benefits such as an uptake in winter-session enrollments and the adoption of a remote approach for future university operations.
“A lot of lessons came out of this, you know, with every crisis comes an opportunity,” he said. “So I think that we are going to do things differently because of what we learned.”
Watch the full interview with President Capuano here.
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Art by Amaya Morales