Office of the President

March 5, 2020

To the William Paterson Community:

As a follow-up to the February 28 email regarding the COVID-19 virus, I want to assure everyone that our senior administrators are monitoring the situation daily and planning accordingly. 

As of today, there are no changes to University operations, including classes, sporting events, and other activities. However, with the first presumed case of COVID-19 in the state being reported out of Bergen County this morning, that could change. We are getting guidance from, and coordinating with, state and federal officials, and we will continue to update the community, particularly in the event of any changes to operations.  If you have not yet downloaded the Rave Guardian app – our campus emergency notification system – on your smartphone, now would be a good time to do so in the event of changes in University operations.   

Please know the University has in place a detailed response plan that adheres to industry best practices, and we are following guidance from the State of New Jersey Department of Health, as well as being in close contact with local health agencies and response units.  In accordance with our plan, I have appointed Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling, Health and Wellness Center, as our Incident Commander. Dr. Guzman will guide us moving forward and be responsible for escalating our responses, as warranted.  I have complete confidence in her ability to lead our response and implement our plan.  We have assembled both an Incident Control Unit and a Pandemic Assessment Team to review plans so we can move into action quickly, should the need arise.  We will be meeting regularly on this issue and are also prepared to call emergency meetings as necessary.  Our top priority is the health and safety of the William Paterson community.     

As the February 28 message mentioned, plans are being readied for the possibility that all classes would have to move online, should circumstances warrant. I know there are a lot of questions around this important issue, especially with spring break travel occurring within a few weeks. Answers to many of them can be found on the  FAQ page   that has been posted, along with other related information, on our Counseling, Health & Wellness Center website. If you have additional questions, faculty and staff should contact Vice President for Human Resources Allison Boucher-Jarvis at , and students should contact Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling, Health & Wellness Center at .

In the meantime, please continue to take the normal precautions detailed in the February 28 email (and posted  here ), including regularly washing your hands and staying home if you are sick.  We are monitoring campus restrooms and hand sanitization stations closely to ensure sanitary supplies are available. If you encounter a restroom or station not stocked with these supplies, please call Physical Plant Operations at x. 2142, and we will work as quickly as possible to address the issue.  

I know many of the reports on COVID-19 are worrisome and scary.  I am urging us all to remain calm and go on with our normal professional and personal lives unless otherwise notified.  Please remember that I know that William Paterson’s most precious asset is our people, and we will do everything we can to keep our community healthy and safe.   

If you have additional concerns, you can call the New Jersey Department of Health hotline at 800-222-1222.

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