Uptick in on-campus COVID cases raises alarms about student safety

By Stephen Neukam

A cluster of on-campus coronavirus cases has popped up at Rider, raising alarms about campus health and bringing into stark focus the dangers as the university enters the winter, according to statistics released Nov. 2 by the school.

A total of seven on-campus student cases have been discovered in the past two weeks. The recent uptick represents the largest amount of cases reported during the fall semester — only one student case was reported prior.

Four cases have been reported in Hill Hall alone — a concerning cluster that the university is monitoring. Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla said that the cases were unrelated but were encouraging students to stay in their rooms as much as possible and volunteer for the surveillance testing program.

Hill Hall is the most populated residence building on campus, with 107 residents, according to Stasolla.

The university has administered 135 tests through the beginning stages of its surveillance testing program on Oct. 16, 90 of which are student-athletes that are being tested weekly to adhere to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference protocols. None of the positive tests have come from the random testing program, according to Stasolla.

The first positive test from the student-athlete testing emerged this week, with a women’s basketball player testing positive. The entire team, including coaches, has entered into quarantine.

Stasolla said the university is taking the threat of the cases seriously and that university contact tracers, who are headed by Associate Dean of Students for Westminster Choir College Christopher Botti, meet with the Lawrence Health Department and the New Jersey Department of Health weekly.

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