By Shaun Chornobroff
In the first week of students being fully on-campus, Rider had four COVID-19 cases among its student body and faculty, according to the COVID-19 dashboard that is updated every Friday on the university’s website.
The dashboard, which tracks COVID-19 cases, tests, as well as quarantined and isolated students, showed that the four positive cases were split evenly between on-campus faculty and staff from Sept. 6-10.
“The cases that we got are not unexpected. We’ve all been hearing about the prevalence of the Delta variant, so what we experienced was not unexpected,” said Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla.
Stassola said she also expects the number of tests to rise, because Rider is having more people on campus.
In the initial dashboard, Rider had only administered 39 COVID-19 tests. However, Stassola expects to see a bigger increase in the testing numbers around the university.
“I do expect the number of tests to increase because the dashboard numbers on Friday do not reflect, obviously, the weekly testing that began just this week for unvaccinated students and faculty,” Stassola said.
Rider currently has 96% of its students and 87% of its faculty vaccinated, according to the dashboard.
Stassola said that she expects the employee vaccination number to increase to as much as 90% when the dashboard updates again on Sept. 17.
Rider had two students quarantining at the time of the dashboard’s release. While Stassola is expecting a jump in quarantined students, she isn’t expecting it to be anything in comparison to the past.
“They won’t rise as much as last year because a lot of quarantine last year had to do with close contacts before we had the benefit of the vaccine,” Stassola said. “This year, now that most people on campus are vaccinated, that means they do not necessarily need to quarantine just because they are identified as close contacts.”
With that said, Stassola acknowledged that there could be a jump in the future.
“What it’s really going to depend on is how the cold and flu season goes this fall,” Stassola said. “Because so many of the symptoms of COVID overlap with the flu, and it’s hard for us to tell whether someone has COVID or not, and therefore, if they’re symptomatic with those kinds of symptoms, we will likely put them in quarantine until we get their COVID test results.”