Two more Montclair State University employees and a Renaissance School teacher have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Wednesday, March 18.

Montclair School District officials announced today that a Renaissance teacher, present on March 13 during Professional Development, has tested positive. The last day of school for students was Thursday, March 12.

People who have been identified as a close contact with the Renaissance teacher (within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more) will be contacted directly by the Health Department where the staff member resides to be told to self-isolate for 14 days. The teacher's home town was not released.

"We cannot share any further details in order to protect the privacy of individuals. However, please know that unless you take the responsibility for physical distancing, community spread will escalate," said Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker in a letter sent home to parents.

In the two new cases at MSU, the first person identified worked in an office at 855 Valley Road. The employee was last in the office on Thursday, March 12. She or he was not hospitalized and is recovering at home, according to university officials.

The second reported case is an employee who was last on campus on Friday, March 6. That person is a resident of New York City and is recovering at home.

Staff who work in the offices of the employees who have tested positive were notified today. They are being placed on quarantine until Monday March 30.

"These employees are not ill and will be working remotely. They will be eligible to return to work in the office on Tuesday, March 31, as long as they are not symptomatic," according to university officials.

Both university offices are closed and will be deep cleaned and disinfected following CDC and OSHA guidelines. Public bathrooms in the Valley Road building, used by other work groups, have already been disinfected, said officials. The university is on spring break until March 23, but dorms, libraries and cafeterias remain open. Classes will be online when the semester begins.

On March 12, Montclair's first COVID-19 case was a 66-year-old MSU employee who was last on campus on Feb. 28. She did not have symptoms  when she left the office. She was hospitalized at Mountainside Hospital.

The university has implemented social distancing strategies to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, and it strongly encourages all faculty, staff, students and visitors to take precautions to protect their health and the health of others, a statement read.

According to the CDC, the novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person to person in the following ways:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another, which the CDC defines as:
  • being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time;
  • having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 patient (e.g., being coughed on);
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes and you inhale the droplet; or
  • By shaking hands or touching a surface recently touched by an infected person.

Those who were in contact with any of the MSU employees or the Renaissance teacher will be told to self-isolate for 14 days. Self-isolation is a public health strategy where individuals who are sick and exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case are separated from well persons. People who are asked to self-isolate should stay in a separate bedroom and, if possible, use a separate bathroom and have minimal contact with other persons and pets in the home. Anyone who is in self-isolation should monitor symptoms in case they worsen. It is recommended that people take their temperature with a thermometer at least twice per day. Symptoms may occur within two to 14 days, according to the CDC.