Monday, Jan 24, 2022
We are writing to update you on some important information regarding our COVID-19 implementation this semester. This communication serves to outline our process for contact tracing, isolation and quarantine as well as to share information with you regarding exempted, unvaccinated students.
It is very important that you understand and follow our process. Your timely response, if contacted, is critical to prevent any further spread arising from a COVID-19 positive case.
Contact tracing identifies close contacts, as defined by the CDC, as a means of mitigating spread and providing information on next steps for those who are affected. Just because one student in a class, choir, production or meeting is COVID positive does not mean that the entire class, choir, production or organization will have to quarantine or be tested. Only close contacts will be contacted and need to abide by the instructions provided.
Chris Botti, COVID-19 Case Manager, remains our lead contact tracer. You can reach Chris at 609-895-5589 or at [email protected] with any questions or concerns. We have also added 2 student contact tracers, Angela Mulcahy-Hachicha and Marge Raynor, and may utilize others if needed.
Please make sure that any student who indicates that they are COVID-19 positive has contacted the Student Health Center (SHC) at 609-896-5060 or at [email protected]. That allows us to keep track of cases and students and begin the contact tracing process. Students don’t always contact the SHC so it is important that you help make sure they do.
When a student tests positive, the following steps will be taken:
- The Student Health Center reports a positive case to one of our contact tracers.
- The contact tracer reaches out to the COVID-19 positive student to share information and make any necessary accommodations for them so they can isolate for at least 5 full days as per CDC and NJDOH guidance (moving to a different residence hall, returning home, sending class absence emails to faculty, etc.). Positive students must wear a mask when around others through day 10 following completion of isolation. Students will be cleared by the Student Health Center to end isolation as long as they are fever-free for 24 hours and other symptoms are improving.
- As part of this process, the COVID-19 positive student is asked about potential close contacts. Close contacts are identified as follows:
- Anyone within 6 feet of the person for 15+ minutes, masked or unmasked
- Anyone who has had physical contact with the person
- Anyone who has had contact with any bodily fluids of that person
- Anyone that lives with the person
- The COVID-19 positive student is asked about anyone who was within 6 feet of them in classes, rehearsals, meetings, etc. This might require help from the faculty member to help identify who those close contacts are. In this case, the contact tracer will reach out to the faculty member via email ([email protected]) asking about where students are seated or arranged. A timely response (ideally, same day) is key to the contact tracing process to prevent further spread of COVID among close contacts. During this time, assigned seating and/or seating charts may greatly assist in this process and faculty are encouraged to consider this approach for the semester’s classes.
- Once the list of contacts has been developed, the contact tracer will call or email each individual to let them know that they are identified as a close contact as well as next steps based on their vaccination status.
- Vaccinated and boosted individuals
- Do not have to quarantine. They can attend classes and do all other regular activities.
- Must mask for 10 days when around others.
- Get tested, where possible, 5 days after exposure. Testing is available for students via the Student Health Center.
- Unvaccinated or unboosted individuals
- Quarantine for 5 full days (class absence email will be sent to faculty)
- Must mask for another 5 days when around others.
- Testing is not mandatory to be cleared from quarantine.
- Vaccinated and boosted individuals
- Students can end quarantine or isolation only when cleared to do so by the Student Health Center.
Exempted, unvaccinated students
We are working to complete the confidential list of students this spring semester who are taking in-person classes/living on campus who received an approved medical or religious exemption from the COVID vaccination requirement. They are required to comply with our masking and testing protocols for the duration of the semester. The rest of our students who are taking in-person classes/living on campus are vaccinated - a total of 96%. This list will be sent to department chairs on or by January 26; faculty who wish to review this information should contact their chair beginning Thursday, January 27. As a reminder, information about a student’s vaccination status should not be disclosed to anyone or discussed with any student.
Rider’s indoor mask requirement remains in place for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. When local transmission and infection rates improve, we hope that this universal masking requirement will be revisited for fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff. Those who have received an approved exemption from vaccination and remain unvaccinated will continue to be required to wear masks indoors throughout the semester and are tested weekly.
Student requests for exemptions were evaluated through a formal application, review, and approval process managed by the Student Health Center. Approximately 130 students have been approved for a vaccine exemption this semester.
Students not yet fully vaccinated
A small number of new students will begin the semester partially vaccinated (with one of two shots) and will complete their vaccine sequence after a short period of time. These students will also be tested weekly until such time as they are considered fully vaccinated (2 weeks after final dose).
A few final points
Faculty should ensure the safety of their classrooms by enforcing masking by all students in their classes and requiring that they complete Campus Clear on a daily basis. If and when the masking requirement for vaccinated students is lifted, please ensure those unvaccinated students on your list remain compliant with masking. At no point should faculty confront or identify unvaccinated students.
Faculty who encounter resistance by any student, vaccinated or unvaccinated, who refuses to adhere to masking should ask the student to leave class and then report the event to the Dean of Students office. If a situation becomes confrontational, please call Public Safety immediately at 609-896-5029.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please reach out if you have any questions at [email protected].
The COVID-19 Implementation Team