As herd immunity to COVID-19 gets closer, NJ colleges prepare for return to in-person learning

It could soon be much easier for students to go back to school in New Jersey by September.

News 12 Staff

Mar 6, 2021, 3:55 AM

Updated 1,231 days ago

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The United States is on pace to vaccinate 2 million people a day against COVID-19 now that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in the fold. The country could reach herd immunity as early as Memorial Day, according to finding by a CNN analysis of the data.
If that holds, it could be much easier for students to go back to school in New Jersey by September. And more colleges in the state are already making the decision to return to campus for the fall semester.
The Livingston Campus at Rutgers University is mostly barren currently because of remote learning. But the university, along with Seton Hall, Montclair State, Kean and others have announced that in-person instruction will resume this fall.
Some of the students say that it is time to return.
“I like being able to do my schoolwork from everywhere, but I do miss going to in-person classes, seeing teachers and my classmates,” says Rutgers freshman Skylar Blau.
“I definitely think it's good to transition back to in-person classes. Because a lot of students learn better that way,” says freshman Samantha Stucchi.
But not every student is comfortable with in-person classes.
“It’ll be nice, but also makes me a little nervous because there is still a pandemic going on,” says freshman Erin Rose.
The Rutgers students attended remote classes, but were allowed to live on campus this semester.
Even if classes return, there will still be safety protocols that faculty and staff want to have worked out.
“There’s a concern about cleaning. We’ve heard some campuses say we will clean rooms twice a day,” says AFTNJ union president Donna Chiera. AFTNJ represents nine state colleges.
The union is calling for COVID testing, vaccination of faculty, capacity limits in libraries and mask enforcement on campuses. They also want to make sure that teaches are protected.
"At the institutions of higher-ed, we know the students are more likely to be the students going out and socializing all summer long,” Chiera says.
Union members say the vaccine may bring promise but that they want college presidents to start listening to their needs.


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