COVID-19 cases stay low as semester nears halfway point

By Shaun Chornobroff

As midterms become an obstacle for students at Rider, the reality is that the fall semester is already nearing its halfway point for the university community. 

With the Lawrenceville campus booming in population this fall after being somewhat desolate due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, worries about containing the virus and student safety are natural. However, Rider has only seen a total of 24 cases since Sept. 6, according to the university dashboard which was last updated on Oct. 15. 

Rider has only seen double-digit cases one week this semester and recorded five positive cases from Oct. 9 to 15, the second highest single week total of the semester. 

“I still feel pretty good about that because the highest we’ve been in any week is 10 [positive cases] and our numbers are still relatively low,” said Rider’s Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board, Debbie Stasolla.

  The 24 positive cases have come over a six week span along with 1,143 tests administered over the semester. Stasolla said that there are a “little under 30 students” that are consistently not getting tested that are required to. 

She recently felt a personal validation for the hours of work that went into the COVID-19 policies that the university put into place for Westminster’s production of “Pippin” that ran at the university from Oct. 15 to 17.

All members of “Pippin” were required to test for  COVID-19  prior to opening night of the performance  at the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. Photo by Peter Borg/Rider University.

“The fact that the cast and crew, the majority, followed our testing protocols that then allowed vaccinated performers to perform without masks, seeing that production this weekend makes all the hard work and energy that goes into testing protocol incredibly worthwhile,” Stasolla said. 

In its most recent update the dashboard reported five students in quarantine and a total of two students in isolation. 

Even with numbers staying low, there is still a second half of the semester for the Rider community to navigate and Stasolla encourages everyone to remain committed to limiting the spread of COVID-19. 

“I think for the most part, we are all in compliance, but we need to continue keeping that in mind, for the safety and well being of our entire campus community,” Stasolla said. “Nobody likes wearing masks for the most part. But we gotta keep that up, particularly as we head into the second half of the semester when people get more stressed with exams… So we just got to keep doing the things we’re supposed to be doing.” 

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