Concerns remain after Ramapo declares online instruction

By LINNEA GILLIGAN
On March 11, 2020

Photo courtesy of Phil Murphy, Flickr

Gov. Phil Murphy announced a state of emergency for New Jersey and Ramapo College has now taken preventative measures to ensure the safety of students on campus due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

As of Wednesday, there are more than 1,000 people affected in 38 states and in Washington D.C. There are 36 cases in New York City and 142 in New York state. In New Rochelle, a suburb on the outskirts of the city, the coronavirus cases increased from one to more than 100 in less than 10 days.

“I’m declaring a State of Emergency for New Jersey amid an outbreak of #COVID19,” Murphy tweeted on Monday. “We’ve been ahead of the curve in terms of our preparations, and this declaration will help keep us there.”

What used to be treated more as a joke is now becoming a serious worry. One week ago, there were about 200 people in the United States affected by the virus. 

New Jersey has 23 cases and there has been one death of an older man in Bergen county. 

Since the state of emergency was declared, many state colleges have been informing their students of measures they plan to take, many of which include transitioning to online instruction for the two weeks that follow spring break, until approximately April 5. 

Ramapo College was one of the last to take action. As news of other New Jersey colleges’ emails were being shared, Ramapo students were constantly checking their emails and worrying about what action Ramapo was going to take. 

Many took to College App, a mobile app that allows students to anonymously voice their concerns to each other all day. Some complained about the slow response while others worried about their housing status.

President Peter Mercer issued a statement via email shortly before 8 p.m. on Tuesday informing students that the college will remain open until spring break begins and that “classes will continue to be held this week as scheduled.”

“Students who must remain in residence will be accommodated,” Mercer’s email continued. 

Dean of Students Melissa Van Der Wall sent out a follow-up email that asked students who needed to stay on campus to “e-mail the Office of Residence Life at reslife@ramapo.edu by 4:30 pm on Thursday, March 12, 2020, if you need to register for on-campus housing.”

Rutgers University and Seton Hall University are two colleges that have closed down for the rest of the week leading to spring break. Other colleges such as Rowan University, are extending spring break a week so that professors can prepare to move to online classes. 

There are also still in-season sports that have practices and games during the two-week break. Some schools announced they are canceling any sports while the college is closed. Baseball, softball and tennis have trips to Florida scheduled this week.

Most students were hoping for school to be canceled for the rest of the week. The email stated the school will remain open due to no current cases on campus. 

I do not believe this is a logical argument. The school should try to prevent a case from coming, not wait for one to arrive. It is midterms week, which means people are still going to show up to class if they feel sick so that they don’t fail their exams. 

This will just make matters worse. There are also a lot of commuters at this college coming from towns where the virus is. 

The coronavirus is causing a lot of students and staff to wonder what will happen next after they are set to return in April, which no one seems to know. 

 

lgilliga@ramapo.edu

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