The outside of Blanton Hall on a sunny day with students walking around.

Weekly COVID Newsletter: October 9, 2020

Posted in: Coronavirus

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October 9, 2020

The Weekly COVID Newsletter provides the latest information about COVID-19 for the University community. It will be published on Fridays throughout the semester.

COVID Testing
The University has been routinely testing students and employees in high contact programs since the start of the semester. Performing arts students and faculty are divided into two cohorts, who are not on campus at the same time. Each cohort is tested every 14 days. Student-athletes and the employees who work closely with them are tested before each team begins its group practices. Routine random testing was recently expanded to the residence halls, including both students and staff.

The University’s testing program uses PCR nasal swab tests, which are considered highly reliable. As of October 6, the University has administered 2,007 tests since the beginning of the semester (1,944 to students and 63 to employees). Those tests have detected 11 cases among students, and no cases among employees, a positivity rate of 0.55%. A new website will soon be created that will allow interested individuals to view weekly updates of the numbers of tests administered and the positivity rate.

“Regular surveillance testing serves as an important early warning system. It allows us to move quickly to reduce the risk of spreading the virus if someone is found to be infected,” says Patricia Ruiz, Director of the University Health Center. “However, testing by itself is not enough. All of us must continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing, do Hawk Check every time before coming to campus, keep our hands clean and stay home whenever we are sick. The University has made these precautions mandatory because they are our best defense against COVID-19.”

Did You Do Hawk Check Today?
Every time you come to campus, do Hawk Check 6 to 14 hours before you plan to arrive. It only takes a minute, and you can do it from your home computer or smartphone. If you receive the message to stay home, please do so and expect a call from Occupational Health to discuss your symptoms. Hawk Check helps to keep the virus off campus, and its use is mandatory. If you come to campus and realize that you forgot to do it, simply do it then and there, and if the app advises you to stay home, then avoid others and go home as soon as possible.

Get the new Statewide COVID-19 App
Some 140,000 people are already using the new smartphone app from the NJ Department of Health, which can alert you if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Consider adding this app to your phone, and please tell your friends and family about it. The more people who have it, the better it will work.

Question of the Week

Q. How well are the University’s buildings ventilated?

“All of our buildings have good ventilation, thanks to the high proportion of outside air we can use and the frequent turnover rates. We are bringing in a minimum of 33% outside air, and the entire air supply in every building is turned over at least 6 times per hour. In addition, we have upgraded the air filters to MERV-13,” says Shawn Connolly, Vice President for University Facilities.

The air handling systems in CELS, as well as in the labs and classrooms in Science Hall, were constructed to bring in 100% outside air. And, Connolly points out, our HVAC systems were designed to serve a much larger number of people than are currently using our buildings, meaning there’s an ample supply of fresh, clean, filtered air. For more information about building ventilation and air filtration, please visit the Facilities FAQ page.

For More Information
For more detailed information about Montclair State’s response to the pandemic, please visit the Red Hawk Restart website, which has links to our 70-page restart plan, to Hawk Check, and many other resources. The Restart FAQs site has answers to frequently asked questions about health, technology, facilities and human resources topics, and the University Health Center’s COVID-19 site offers resources for health and wellness, a weekly report of known cases on campus, and information about how you can get tested.

You can also email restart-related questions to or health-related questions to

Good News – ICYMI
Students are grateful for the efforts faculty and staff are making to provide them with the best experience possible under the circumstances. Student journalist Anton Specht penned an appreciative column in The Montclarion recently. “Montclair State did not have to give us the opportunity to remain on campus and feel like real college students again,” Specht wrote. “The university understands the majority of its students want to be here and want that college experience. They’ve done a tremendous job accommodating all of us through a myriad of ways.” Check it out. You’ll enjoy the accompanying illustration by Danielle DeRosa, too.

Thank you for reading the Weekly COVID Newsletter, a production of the Office of University Communications & Marketing. Comments and suggestions may be sent to Vice President Joseph Brennan,