Dear Monmouth University Community:
As we prepare to enter the second half of the two-week remote instruction period, I am writing to you with important updates. All along, I have directed you to the COVID-19 campus dashboard for the latest reporting on cases in our campus community, as well as the number of individuals in isolation or quarantine on and off campus. We have recently updated the dashboard to reflect the total number of active cases as well as the total number of recovered cases.
The distinction between active and recovered cases is an important one. Active cases reflect individuals who have tested positive for the virus, and are required to isolate for a 10-day period. Recovered cases represent individuals who have completed and been released from the mandatory 10-day isolation period, freeing up capacity on campus to manage future cases. While we are still seeing new cases, almost exclusively among our undergraduate students, the dashboard suggests that the positivity rate is slowing. Since August 24, 2020, we have reported 291 cumulative cases. Of these, 166 are active cases, and another 125 are recently recovered cases. In addition, there are 206 students who – through contact tracing – have been deemed at high-risk for the virus, and are required to quarantine, as a precaution, for a 14-day period. Fortunately, symptoms have been mild, but we continue to closely monitor our students in isolation and quarantine.
Since we first reported a notable increase in COVID-19 cases on campus, we have learned – through extensive contact tracing efforts – additional details about the likely origin. It appears that this increase in cases among students was tied to an off-campus event hosted two weeks ago. An overwhelming majority of the recent cases we have seen can be traced back to this isolated super-spreader event. Moving forward, we will need 100% cooperation from our campus community in order to resume our fall semester as planned. I cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of compliance with Monmouth University COVID-19 protocols and State of New Jersey health and safety measures to effectively protect the Monmouth community. The future of our fall semester will rest, in large part, on the ability of everyone to follow these necessary protocols.
Beyond the recent changes to our operations and health and safety protocols, we will be increasing our testing efforts on campus. With support from the State of New Jersey Department of Health, the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission and the Monmouth County Health Department, we are increasing our testing capacity and are now able to provide free testing to students and employees. Members of the Monmouth University community can be tested Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with no appointment needed. All specimens are being sent to the state lab, which reports a 24-48 hour test turnaround time. We have also increased staff support to communicate test results in an expeditious manner, as well as to enhance our contact tracing efforts within the community.
We intend to make a decision next week, before the end of the two-week remote instruction period, about plans for the second half of the fall semester. Expect to hear from me in the coming days with more information, but, as always, feel free to email FallRestart@monmouth.edu with any questions. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we work through this challenging period together.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy