PARAMUS, N.J. — In advance of the resumption of in-person instruction for selected classes Monday, Sept. 21, the Bergen Community College board of trustees has approved the institution’s reopening plan guiding fall semester protocols, practices and procedures for students, faculty, staff and community members. The board action follows an August announcement that froze tuition rates at last year’s levels and transitioned most classes to remote learning, As required, the College also submitted a version of the reopening plan to the state’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, which approved the institution’s approach.

The plan outlines the College’s tactics in areas outlined by the state’s higher education secretary, including proactive campus safeguards, academic instruction and student services, while also discussing contact tracing, COVID-19 screening and testing protocols. A taskforce of faculty, staff and students divided into working groups for academic continuity, medical response, business continuity and communication crafted the plan. To inform their work, the taskforce surveyed students, faculty and staff, conducted an assessment of course offerings, consulted with public health officials and also reviewed the best practices of peers before releasing the final plan now available on the College’s website. To review the entire 32-page plan, visit https://bergen.edu/reopening-plan-pdf/.
 
Among the most important considerations, Bergen will:
-- Require face coverings, thermal temperature screenings and social distancing for all who enter main campus facilities;

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-- Practice enhanced cleaning and sanitizing of all campus common areas, while maintaining appropriate supplies of personal protection equipment, purchasing MERV-13 air filters for heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment and limiting the flow of pedestrian traffic in hallways and entrance/exits;

-- Position student services such as the Cerullo Learning Assistance Center, registration, admissions, bursar and financial aid to provide their complete complement of services online;

-- Suspend the intercampus shuttle between Paramus and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands, the athletics program and on-campus dining;

-- Establish mandatory requirements for students, faculty and staff returning to campus — including by providing COVID-19 awareness training;

-- Limit those on campus to students taking classes, faculty or staff conducting official College business or invited guests;

-- Develop a mobile app-based two-step screening process for those entering a campus facility;

-- Close access to the Sidney Silverman Library - though it will offer remote services and curbside pickup of materials — STEM Student Research Center and computer labs; and

-- Appoint a “reopening coordinator” to monitor real-time compliance of the College’s plan and respond to inquiries, comments and concerns.
 
As previously announced, the institution will offer a limited number of practice-based classes, such as those in health professions and manufacturing, in person. No classes will take place at the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and only paramedic science program practicals will take place at Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. In addition to the resumption of in-person instruction for fall classes that have already begun, an additional slate of fall semester classes will begin Sept. 23. Students can register for these new classes at Bergen.edu or email regoffice@bergen.edu for assistance.
 
For families and students unsure of their plans for higher education this fall due to the pandemic, Bergen’s affordable tuition and renowned faculty complement general education classes such as English Composition, General Biology and Statistics that remain ideal for transfer to many four-year colleges. Bergen offers more than 130 degree and certificate programs in areas such as aviation, criminal justice, dental hygiene, fashion design and hospitality. Students considering enrolling at the College should first file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing a FAFSA can help students become eligible for programs such as the state’s tuition-free Community College Opportunity Grant, which has now expanded to include households making up to $65,000 per year, and other tuition assistance programs. The College ranks No. 1 in New Jersey for associate degree graduates.
 
Fall schedule:
*Fall 1 – Sept. 2-Dec. 21
*Fall 2 – Sept. 23-Dec. 21
*Flex 1 – Sept. 2-Oct. 26
*Flex 2 – Oct. 27-Dec. 21
 
Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.