By Lara Becker
As the virtual fall semester comes to a close, students are left wondering what the future holds for them on the College campus. A start to the Spring Flex plan was outlined in October, but an email from President Foster yesterday aimed to clarify outstanding questions.
“I cannot emphasize enough how critical it will be to follow community standards and meet expectations for keeping one another safe when we return to campus in 2021,” Foster wrote. “Our actions at the start of the semester will determine how successfully we navigate the weeks that follow.”
The spring semester is still set to begin on Feb. 1, with 75% remote-only classes and 25% flex mode classes, which will offer both online and in-person options.
Weekly testing will be mandatory for all students living on campus, as well required testing for in-season athletes three times a week, regardless of sport.
Foster announced that Bergen New Bridge will be providing testing for students in Decker Hall social space. Specific details about appointments will be released in January, according to Foster. This will be prevalent for the over 1,700 students signed up to live in single-occupancy rooms, but Foster said that all people visiting campus will need to be tested as well.
If students on campus do test positive, they will be housed in Townhouses West as an isolation unit. New Residence Hall will be reserved as a quarantine unit for students who come in close contact with positive cases or have traveled out of state. These students will take classes remotely and will have meals delivered.
Victoria Addonizio, a junior early childhood special education and history dual major, is happy to see that the College is implementing Covid-safe practices. Where her and other students are worried, however, is in between the lines of the changes to student life, alongside holding people accountable.
“I was equally pleased to see that they are considering suspension and removal from housing for students who aren't compliant with guidelines,” Addonizio said. “I hope that they do actually follow through with that, so TCNJ students don't put other people at risk by throwing wild parties.”
In the same vein, many students expressed concerns about the College's planned “Recharge Week” from March 29 to Apr. 2, which Foster described as not a spring break, but a “relaxed week [that] is intended to relieve the stresses of a long semester.”
Addonizio and senior communications major Eunice Olugbile are hoping for a further description of “Recharge Week,” and are wondering if it is an under-the-radar version of spring break.
“It just seems like more unanswered questions,” Olugbile said.
Some students are not convinced that the campus should be opening at all after data has shown a recent surge in Covid-19 cases despite new restrictions.
“It would only take one outbreak on campus for it to spread to the outside community, and I personally see that as reckless and dangerous even with the consistent testing and isolation/quarantine rooms,” said sophomore psychology major Kristin Sandel.
On the other hand, sophomore communications major Christopher Jacob is ready for an end to “Zoom university” entirely.
“This isn’t college,” he said. “This isn’t what we paid for. I don’t feel like a student. I feel as if they’re not even trying to restore the college experience.”
Either way, students agree that a further update on specific plans may be beneficial for a more complete understanding.