As spring approaches, faculty and staff are preparing as much as they can to make Montclair State University the best and safest possible learning environment for students.
On the morning of January 14, faculty met to discuss any questions or concerns submitted about the upcoming semester and what plans are to stay safe from the omicron coronavirus (COVID-19) variant that is spreading in New Jersey.
Montclair President Jonathan Koppel spoke about the decision to start the semester in person.
“Being a leader is listening to advice,” Koppel said. “We don’t make decisions based on what the other institutes in New Jersey will do. We base our response to COVID-19. We have a highly vaccinated campus and our response is robust.”
Several faculty members were at a loss as to why the enhanced mandate had been postponed to March. This was for students who got vaccinated late, explained Dr. Don Souffleris, vice president of student development and campus life.
She added that the campus wants to make sure everyone has enough time to be eligible for the booster and that students who can get it before March are strongly encouraged to do so.
Sean Connolly, vice president of university facilities, helped calm several faculty members’ nerves about airflow.
“Maximizing ventilation in buildings with airflow is a big priority,” Connolly said. “Classrooms will be stocked with the supplies they need to fight the virus, and places like dancing and exercise will get more air than usual.”
Along with more airflow, tents will again be pitched outside starting April 1 for classes that prefer outdoor learning.
The mental health of the students was a major concern for most staff. Souffleris addressed these concerns during the meeting.
“Peer interactions are very important for students’ mental health,” Soufleris said. “We need to keep that in mind for them to be successful.”
Dean of Students Margaery Coleman-Carter also told faculty that there is now a 24-hour service through the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) if students need it along with virtual and in-person counseling services.