Written by Aliza Brown for The Argo
According to Stockton University’s official daily confirmed COVID-19 cases web page, the school has reported 119 total coronavirus cases since September 1. Of those confirmed positive cases, 30 are from students who live off-campus, 83 are from residential students who live on Galloway’s campus, 2 are from students on Atlantic City’s campus and 4 are from Stockton employees.
Stockton has since cleared 90 of these cases and currently has 29 active cases. A cleared case means an individual has submitted medical authorization proving they are able to return back to work/school. An active case means an individual has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently in isolation.
Total cases since 9/1/20
|Galloway||Atlantic City||Off Campus||Total|
School has been in session for a little over two months now, and Stockton University has been able to keep the COVID-19 cases relatively contained. However, all of the positive coronavirus cases are just what have been reported to the school. There is still a possibility that some individuals have tested positive or have had symptoms of the coronavirus and have not told anyone, which is common in this day and age.
With no definite cure for this deadly disease, Stockton continues to stress to students that they must do their part to prevent spreading the virus as much as possible, which means alerting the school and those with whom they have been in contact if they feel like they might have it.
With a population of almost 9,000 students, it was practically inevitable for Coronavirus cases not to rise upon returning to campus. However, the university has much lower cases compared to other schools in New Jersey. The low number proves Stockton’s efforts to keep students safe is paying off. Students were not required to get tested before returning to campus, which might attest to some early cases.
Instead, students must take a “daily health pledge,” which is sent to their Stockton emails. The purpose of this daily pledge is to monitor the health of the community. It asks students to confirm that they have not tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, that they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and much more.
All members of the Stockton community are expected to agree to the terms of the pledge daily and are not permitted to log onto Stockton platforms without signing the pledge. Senior and residential student Lavinia Eugene says, “From my knowledge, many of the COVID-19 cases have been off campus cases, so I don’t think testing before coming to school was necessary as people would still be allowed to move into their off-campus apartments. I think the daily pledge is useful, but definitely not used to its full capability as I myself forget to do it some days.”
Students who test positive for COVID-19 are also not permitted on campus. Residential students who test positive for COVID-19 are required to quarantine at a safe campus location. The university also notifies all close contact individuals who may have had direct exposure to an infected individual.
Stockton University has implemented multiple safety guidelines and measurements to try to keep everyone safe this semester. This includes keeping a six-foot physically distanced campus with behavioral signage that gives students specific directions to follow such as certain ways to walk down hallways, increased sanitization throughout the campus, providing personal protective equipment and hygiene such as masks, consistent communication throughout the Stockton community, health monitoring and contract tracing.
Although most classes being offered this semester are virtual, certain classes are still in person. Masks are required for all students who enter the campus. For students who live in residential facilities, housing looks very different this year.
Guests are completely prohibited, and many of the housing assignments which originally fit multiple people, only hold two people now. Students are also prohibited from attending or hosting large gatherings, whether that be on-campus or off-campus. Many of the positive coronavirus cases from off-campus students can be traced to large crowds occurring throughout the semester.
Since these students live off-campus, it is harder for the university to regulate who is having parties and where they are located. The university encourages students to report those who host large gatherings to the Care and Community Standards Office as they pose a risk to the entire community.
A day before classes started for the semester, an email was sent out to all Stockton students by Christopher Catching, the Vice President for Student Affairs, which explained all of the consequences for breaking the rules set in place by the university, which range from losing house with no refund, interim suspension, suspension or expulsion. The email also explained that ten students had already been removed from University housing for having on-campus gatherings.
Eugene also explained how she feels about living and being on campus during COVID-19. “I think Stockton is doing a good job at keeping students safe. Living on campus, I can see just how many precautions they are taking with mandatory masks, social distancing, etc. Overall, I think the situation could’ve been handled much worse but Stockton is doing the best they can to keep us here and provide us with an exceptional education.”
The chart below shows Stockton University’s enrollment numbers from Fall 2016 to Fall 2020. The graph shows how every year, Stockton’s fall enrollment numbers have increased, until this current semester, where they decreased, which can be blamed on COVID-19. Despite all of Stockton’s efforts to keep students safe, their enrollment numbers seem to be the ones suffering.
With most classes held virtually and the usual college activities like parties and social events restricted, some students do not see the purpose of paying regular tuition when they do not get the traditional college experience. Instead, many students have taken a gap semester/year or are taking classes at community colleges to save money.
Some students, like Eugene, also fear that their semester might end up getting cut short. “I’ve heard so many colleges say that they plan on sending students home after Thanksgiving which scares me because I live on campus and I would probably have to move out of my dorm if they do that like last spring. I live almost two hours away so I will be really disappointed if that ends up happening, especially because living on campus is so expensive already.” Eugene explained.
With much still in the air about the spring semester and it will operate, all that the Stockton community can do right now is remain optimistic.
Stockton University requests that all faculty, staff, and students tested for COVID-19, even if they do not have the results back yet, contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. This will help the university do contact tracing. Students should contact the Student Health Services at email@example.com if they are feeling sick. Students, faculty and staff should to download COVID Alert NJ App, which can be found at https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/app. This free and safe app alerts New Jersey residents if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Find more about Stockton University’s Coronavirus confirmed cases, FAQ’s, and resources: https://stockton.edu/emergency-management/coronavirus.html.