In Search of Normalcy
“This is going to be the new normal!” How many times have you heard that declaration? It seems that we redefine the “new normal” every few weeks, or at least every couple of months. Throughout the COVID experience, we were redefining “normal.” Masks, social distancing, touchless transactions, vaccinations, boosters, virtual meetings, and a host of other protocols and precautions were introduced regularly as our “new normal.” Each one made sense at the time, and each one was targeted to “bend the curve” and eradicate COVID-19. Then we were hit with various strains of the virus, each one unique, and dangerous to the most vulnerable.
Going into this new academic year, we are operating under an even “newer” normal. With the benefit of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) analysis on a county-by-county basis, we have the ability to know more precisely the status of the virus. Over the last few months, Salem County has bounced between Red – High Risk of Contagion and Yellow – Moderate Risk of Contagion. There was one week where we were Green – Low Risk of Contagion, but that shifted rather abruptly.
So, what is our “new normal?” We are trying to make this as simple as possible. Each week, we review the CDC designation, and if it shifts, we announce the shift and the implications. Below are the simplified protocols we ask everyone to follow:
Red Zone Designation, High Risk of Contagion – mask for self-protection (preferably an N-95 mask) or to protect your household. Masking is not required, but strongly advised if this applies to you. Where possible, distance yourself from others. Remember, during much of the pandemic, we were masking to ensure we were not spreading the virus to others. Now we are looking for individuals to exercise self-protection. Most of all, if you are at all ill, stay home, test, and, if positive, contact your family physician. Additionally, call the College’s COVID hotline at 856.351.2840.
Yellow Zone Designation, Moderate Risk of Contagion – Mask as you deem appropriate for you and your household. Maintain social distance as practical. If you are not feeling well, stay home, test, and, if positive, reach out to your family physician as well as the College at 856.351.2840.
Green Zone Designation, Low Risk of Contagion - Mask as you deem appropriate for you and your household. No other measures are necessary. If you are not feeling well, stay home, test, and, if positive, reach out to your family physician as well as the College at 856.351.2840.
Someday, COVID-19 will be simply a memory. It is just not today.