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Masking and Certain Other COVID-19 Protocols

Background

TCNJ administration has continually tracked COVID-19 infection rates (in New Jersey, in the region, and on campus) and consulted with local and regional experts. The latest CDC guidance involves considering case counts as well as hospitalizations and hospital capacity, which have also seen significant improvements. The CDC reports that the COVID-19 Community Level for Mercer County is now low.

Therefore, TCNJ is pleased to announce that — subject to certain conditions explained below — the general indoor mask mandate will be rescinded beginning Saturday, March 12.

Protocols

It is important to recognize the following conditions:

  • “Local rules” — Despite the removal of the campuswide mask mandate, it may still be appropriate for a mask mandate to apply in certain circumstances (e.g., an identified tight space with crowded conditions for a prolonged time period). Therefore, individual faculty may choose to require masks in their classrooms, laboratories, and offices, and vice presidents may authorize supervisors to require masks in particular departments or spaces (e.g., Student Health Services). Any such mask requirement should be clearly communicated. Students and employees should continue to have a mask available if they plan to enter an identified space where local rules apply.
  • Those who have special circumstances (e.g., a heightened vulnerability due to a medical condition) may request an accommodation through the Accessibility Resource Center. Students in a class may also consult with their instructor.
  • The requirement that employees and students with a vaccine exemption be tested weekly remains in effect.
  • Anyone wishing to wear a mask may, of course, continue to do so. Recent studies suggest that higher quality masks, such as N95 respirators, offer significant protection. With the withdrawal of the universal mask mandate, the TCNJ campus will be mask-friendly: Everyone should respect the right of others to choose to wear a mask.
  • As was the case at the beginning of the spring semester, the college requests that everyone be tested on campus when returning from Spring Break. Schedule an appointment.
  • To reduce the spread of COVID-19 on campus, the TCNJ COVID Outreach Team continues to diligently perform contact tracing for the campus community. It is imperative to not only remain accessible and cooperate with that team but also follow all isolation and quarantine protocols.
  • Masks are still required indoors in the following situations:
    • For the full 10 days regardless of release from quarantine or isolation
    • For 10 days for close contacts who are not required to quarantine
    • In Student Health Services
    • In particular classes, laboratories, departments, or spaces where local rules prescribe masks
  • Statistically, when compared with individuals who have received the full vaccine series and a booster, those who remain unvaccinated and (to a lesser extent) those who received their primary series of vaccine, but have not yet received a booster, are more prone to infection, more likely to transmit the virus if infected, and more likely to suffer serious adverse health consequences from an infection. Therefore, we encourage those individuals in particular to consider continuing to wear a high-quality mask (such as an N95, KN95, or KF94).
  • While infection rates are improving, the pandemic is not over. Rates could go up again or we could experience another surge, particularly if a new, more transmissible or dangerous strain takes hold. If this happens, or if federal/state regulations or guidance so provide, the college may reimpose a mask mandate for the entire campus community or for some portion of it.

Questions about masking requirements or other COVID-19 protocols? Email covidcomply@tcnj.edu.