Rowan, Glassboro have united front dealing with COVID-19 cases
Rowan University and Glassboro borough officials held a town hall meeting Wednesday to address concerns about the large number of positive COVID-19 cases in students on and off campus.
While most New Jersey colleges went with mostly remote learning plans, Rowan is offering 20% of its class with in person instruction and over 4,800 students living on campus.
The school reported on its website that 266 cases involving students on and off campus since classes started on August 25 have been counted through September 12. The number of new cases have dropped significantly this week with just 13 as of Thursday afternoon.
By comparison, Rutgers have had 28 positive cases for the same period, Monmouth University has six while Stockton University and Rider University each counted three.
Director for Student Health Services Scott Woodside said students who have reported symptoms have had mild head or body aches with an average duration of illness being three days. None of the cases have resulted in hospitalization.
Glassboro Councilman Ed Malandro, who moderated the meeting, said that communication in recent weeks between the borough and the college has been better than he's seen in his 21 years in office.
“Rowan is part of Glassboro and Glassboro is our home. We want to be a good neighbor," university Provost Tony Lowman said during the meeting held on Zoom.
Rowan Director for Student Health Services Kevin Koett said said the school has taken a number of steps to make students aware that their actions of gathering in large groups has potential consequences and added social distancing protocols to its conduct code.
"Students have been held accountable. We have changed student statuses, we have suspended student organizations, we are taking concerns very seriously and holding them accountable to the best of our abilities," he said.
Malandro said a common question was whether or not there was a certain number of cases that would trigger the closing of the campus.
"We're looking at all the data. Hospitalizations, access to supplies, access to our quarantine dorm," said Lowman, adding that the school's plan is flexible enough to change if public health guides them in that direction.
Koett said that while the school will investigate every concern brought to its attention, students that violate coronavirus policy off campus will get "due process" and not automatically be expelled.
Lowman said Rowan was "very comfortable" bringing 20% of its student population back to campus.
"I personally stand behind the decision we made with students here and students in the dorm. I have a daughter who's a sophomore living in one of our housing locations on Rowan Boulevard. If I weren't comfortable with this plan I would in no way put someone in my family at risk of COVID," Lowman said. "If that's not an endorsement of how I believe in how much I believe in our plan then I don't know what is."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ