Administrator happy that COVID cases are ‘relatively low’

By Shaun Chornobroff

After seeing a growing number of positive COVID-19 cases over the first two weeks of having fully in-person classes, Rider saw a stunningly large drop in positive cases from Sept. 18-24, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

After seeing 10 cases between students and employees from Sept. 11-17, the university dashboard only recorded a single case in its most recent update released on Sept. 24.

“I don’t see great fluctuation; we’re still talking a relatively few number of cases and we’re going to have to expect fluctuations from week to week,” Rider’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board, Debbie Stasolla said.

Stasolla added, “When you think about it, we’re talking less than 20 cases, that’s a very low number of cases. And we’re going to have to expect that it will fluctuate.”

The positive case in the most recent update brings Rider up to 15 positive COVID-19 cases this semester, according to the dashboard. Nine cases have been on-campus students, one of the recorded cases is an off-campus student and five of the cases have been on-campus employees.

“I’m pleased to see that the numbers are still relatively low,” Stasolla said. “That said, I think that we all need to continue being knowledgeable about our on-campus requirements, and what we all need to be doing day-in and day-out to help mitigate the spread of COVID … I’m talking about things like masking. I’m talking about getting tested if you are required to be tested every week, getting tested if you are considered a close contact. If we all continue to do what we’re supposed to do, it should help, not a guarantee, but it should help keep the number of cases down so we can continue our more normal operations.”

The school administered 201 tests between Sept. 18-24, an 18 test decrease from the previous week. However, Stasolla did admit that Rider still has a number of students who are required to test regularly who are not and that said students are being referred for Code of Conduct violations.

The dashboard reported that 98% of full-time faculty and 91% of staff that have reported their vaccination status are vaccinated. Although, Stassola did say the university may not know what percentage of its faculty is truly vaccinated.

“Let’s say if I’m a faculty member and I did not report my status, then I’m not included in the 98% who’s vaccinated,” Stasolla said. “I’m now included in the 2%. Of the 2%, how many are truly unvaccinated? I can’ t tell you. Some of them might be, but they just refuse to report their status.”

Faculty members and employees who do not show proof of vaccination are “assumed to be unvaccinated and have to be tested weekly,” according to Stasolla.

Rider’s quarantine numbers saw a slight uptick in the most recent update, stating that three students are quarantining on the school’s campus, and one student is quarantining off campus.

The dashboard also reported that Rider had one student isolating off campus and one employee in isolation.

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