By Elizabeth Scalzo
With Omicron variant coronavirus cases skyrocketing across the nation, is it safe to return to classes in person at the start of the semester?
While federal and state authorities are not advising another shutdown, coronavirus hospitalizations in N.J. have reached a peak of 6.000, the highest since April of 2020, according to NJ.com.
Judy Persichilli, N.J.’s health commissioner, said she expects hospitalizations to peak in early February. and for new case numbers to range from 20,000 to 30,000 daily. The peak of hospitalizations in the first week of February is expected to be around 8,000.
Earlier today, Dr. Robert Pignatello, senior vice president for university operations, emailed the community and urged students and faculty to get their booster shots. There are arrangements made by FDU to help people sign up for the vaccination.
“The University has arranged with Holy Name Medical Center to offer booster shots at University Plaza 3 in Hackensack from January 17 – February 4 (Monday-Friday) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. An appointment must be made using this link and community members must present their FDU ID,” the email stated.
Other schools in New Jersey have already announced a move to online learning for the beginning of the semester and are requiring booster shots for those eligible.
NJIT announced Jan. 6 that it will open with synchronous work and events through Jan. 30. The university is also requiring booster shots by Jan. 31.
Rutgers, William Paterson and Seton Hall also have adopted similar policies for their return to the spring semester.
However, some universities have announced segmented move-ins, much like FDU did in fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. These protocols to move residents in slowly is to help with getting everyone tested and keeping students quarantined until their results come back. Ramapo and Rowan are both planning to start in-person.
The Equinox chat polled our staff to see what way they would feel most comfortable for the semester. The options included fully in-person, fully online and starting online and then moving in person. 14 of the 15 votes chose to start online and then move to in-person. Only one vote voted for going fully online.
At this point, there has been no advisory to returning resident students from housing and residence life.
So, here we are with are a lot of questions as to how students will return to campus and do it safely. With a mixed perspective on returning to campuses across New Jersey, there are some things FDU needs to solifidy.
If doing a segmented move in, the resident students should know by Friday of this week Jan. 15. That way students can make travel arrangements, especially if coming from out of state.
If there is going to be a push to online for the start of the semester, this should be done by the end of this week as well so students can accommodate their preparation for returning to campus. Professors will also need time to adjust class plans for remote learning if necessary as well as student clubs and organizations who haven’t heard anything about spring programming and the plans for student-hosted events.
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FDU has yet to announce their plans for the start of the semester as date approaches.
Art by Elizabeth Scalzo