Ramapo responds to pandemic with social distancing

Photo courtesy of Ramapo College, Flickr

Ramapo College will transition to online courses for two weeks after spring break, and effective immediately, the college will limit large gatherings and events until the end of the semester. This is in response to preventing an outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on campus.

In a statement sent from the Office of the President to all students and faculty on Tuesday night, President Mercer announced that “from March 23 to April 3, Ramapo College will deliver the vast majority of its coursework remotely.” 

At the time of publication, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Ramapo, nor have we been informed of any cases under investigation.

Last week on March 4, Ramapo took the first steps in preventing a coronavirus outbreak on campus by cancelling all international spring break trips. Following this, all study abroad students studying in countries with a CDC travel advisory of three or higher were forced to depart the country and begin a self-isolation process of 14 days. Since then, Ramapo has also cancelled all supported trips of domestic travels for students and staff over Spring break. Whether this will extend after the return from the remote weeks is unclear.

Hours later, Governor Murphy’s staff released news that the first presumptive case of the coronavirus has been found in New Jersey, specifically Bergen County.

The next day, Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wall sent out a message regarding the positive cases in the area. She also noted that Ramapo’s men’s volleyball team has interacted with Yeshiva University students, and the University has recently declared to have a student test positive for the virus on their campus. The person, however, was not in contact with Ramapo’s team.

“We learned that the Ramapo College volleyball players, coaches and spectators at the March 1 game are at no risk since they never came in contact with the patient from Yeshiva University,” Van Der Wall stated in Thursday’s message.

While there are no cases on campus that have affected Ramapo students, there are cases off campus that are currently impacting students that are abroad right now.

Griffyn Leeds, a sophomore literature major, is currently studying abroad in Athens, Greece. Early Tuesday morning around 3:30 a.m., his apartment of eight people received a call that one of their roommates had tested positive for the coronavirus, and they must pack their necessary things to leave immediately.

“People shoved us out the door wearing hazmat suits,” Leeds said. “We were led to a white van with tinted windows to move to an undisclosed destination.”

Leeds is currently staying in a quarantine hotel in Greece and has been placed in his own room. He has interacted with three of his roommates since his placement there in the hotel, but they are not allowed to leave their rooms.

To prevent the spread of the virus on Ramapo’s campus, sanitation practices have been increased even before COVID-19 was announced to be a pandemic, according to Dean Van Der Wall.

“The staff have installed new soap dispensers in all restrooms in order to encourage hand washing,” Van Der Wall said in an email to the Ramapo News. “There have been a number of hallway hand sanitizers that are installed and regularly monitored to make sure that they are filled.”

Students can find the most up to date information pertaining to the coronavirus at Ramapo on the Coronavirus Updates and Information page on Ramapo’s website.



With additional reporting by Kim Bongard