Ocean County College announced its plan to reopen for the fall 2021 semester this week, including a mask mandate and a recommendation that students vaccinate themselves against the Covid-19 virus.
“OCC’s campus will reopen this fall for all members of our community to work and learn full time and in person once again,” an announcement from the college said. “The health and safety of our employees and students is of paramount importance and our decisions are informed by guidance issued from local, state, and federal public health authorities.”
Fall semester classes begin Sept. 7, the school said, and all fall classes’ capacity will be at pre-pandemic levels. The college is offering face-to-face, online, remote, and hybrid classes. The Southern Education Center will remain closed for the fall semester and will reopen in spring of 2022.
Vaccination “is strongly recommended but not required,” the school announced, with the exception of students and faculty in the Nursing and Allied Health programs. Students and faculty in those programs must be vaccinated in order to comply with the vaccine mandate adopted by clinical sites.
The most controversial policy will likely come in the form of the college’s comprehensive mask mandate.
Masks will be required indoors for all persons – vaccinated or unvaccinated.
Masks must be worn:
- Indoors in classrooms, lecture halls, etc.
- Indoors in shared spaces (the library, conference rooms, studios, technology and science labs, computer labs, etc.).
- Indoors in the Larson Center except when eating and drinking while seated.
- Indoors in private spaces with more than one occupant (shared offices).
- Indoors in public spaces (hallways, restrooms, stairs, elevators, lounges, etc.).
Masks are not required:
- When outdoors.
- When seated in a private office occupied by one person. Masks are not required indoors when seated at a workstation, provided there is six-foot separation from other seated people.
- When an individual is engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as eating and drinking or playing an instrument that would be obstructed by the face covering.
- When a student is participating in high-intensity physical activities during a class in a well-ventilated location and able to maintain a physical distance of six feet from all other individuals.
- When student athletes are participating in high-intensity physical activities in a well-ventilated location and team members are tested for COVID regularly.
- When wearing a face covering creates an unsafe condition in which to operate equipment or execute a task.
- When a person cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability or condition as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The announcement said the school custodial staff will adhere to cleaning protocols adopted by the CDC, and will provide students with hand cleaner and disinfectant wipes for facilities such as computer rooms. “Touch areas” will be wiped down throughout each day.