Office of the President

March 18, 2020

To the William Paterson Community:

William Paterson University learned today that a member of our staff, who was last on campus Friday, March 6, has since tested positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus). This is the first confirmed case on our campus.  Following the guidance of public health officials, effective immediately, except for essential personnel, we are closing the campus until Monday, March 23   at 8:30 a.m. This will include the Cheng Library.  Students in our residence halls will be allowed to remain.  

This move is being taken under the guidance of public health officials to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the entire community, particularly the essential employees who remain on campus while most of our staff, along with faculty and students, operate remotely. Right now, the plan is to reopen the campus on March 23, and we will provide any operational changes via email, Rave Guardian alert, and social media.  Otherwise, all on-site personnel should report on Monday, March 23 at 8:30 a.m.  

The staff member is now self-quarantined at home in accordance with CDC protocols and is doing well. We wish them a speedy and full recovery. I know this may alarm many of you and make you anxious for more information, but federal health privacy rules prohibit us from sharing any additional details about this case. Based on our established protocols and guidance from the CDC and NJ Department of Public Health, publichealth authorities are reaching out to any persons who may have had direct contact with this individual and giving them additional guidance.  The University will undertake appropriate cleaning and sanitation protocols based on the outcomes of the investigation. I will alert the campus when that investigation is complete.   

University actions to combat COVID-19
This closure is the latest action by William Paterson in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier actions include:
  • Moved all but those employees essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the University community to a fully remote work schedule starting Wednesday, March 18.
  • Extended Spring Break through Tuesday, March 24, after which courses are scheduled to resume remotely on Wednesday, March 25 through at least Tuesday, April 14.
  • Implemented additional social-distancing policies, including cancelation or suspension of campus activities and meetings.
  • Suspended all University-sponsored travel, domestic and international.
  • Established a travel registry and implemented mandatory self-quarantine for any member of the William Paterson community traveling to CDC Level 2 & 3 countries or on any cruise. Anyone meeting these criteria will need to be cleared by the University before being allowed to return to campus.

Precautionary Measures
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, specifically between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. As the virus spreads, there may potentially be other cases in our community. Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk to yourself, your family, and our campus:

  • Wash your hands well and frequently, substitute a smile for a handshake, don’t share eating implements or cups.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes, stay home if you are sick, and seek medical treatment if you are experiencing symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing.
  • Take care of your emotional health: get sleep, unplug from the news, meditate, exercise, and eat well – these all support your body’s immune system.

While this news is troubling, especially for our affected colleague, it was perhaps inevitable given the size of our community, the spread of the disease, and expanded testing. It makes even more clear the need to adhere to the social-distancing protocols that we have put in place at William Paterson and which Governor Murphy and various local officials have implemented throughout New Jersey. It is important that we all do everything we can to take care of ourselves and our communities. 

I want to thank all of the faculty and staff who have worked quickly and under great pressure to adapt in the face of difficult and unpredictable circumstances. Amid the constant news of this deepening health crisis, their dedication to William Paterson and their support for one another have been reassuring.

Please continue to check your William Paterson email and the special website at  for updates and additional information.

Richard J. Helldobler, PhD
Office of the President | 973.720.2222 |