PARAMUS, N.J. – After more than a year of operating via a mostly remote instructional and professional environment, Bergen Community College President Eric M. Friedman, Ph.D., has outlined the institution’s plans for fully reopening its campus facilities.
The plan includes offering courses both in-person and online during the upcoming summer and fall semesters, reopening campus resources and allowing faculty and staff to return to their offices. The Bergen Board of Trustees will formally adopt a revised reopening plan at the governing body’s July 6 meeting.
With the College fully reopening its campus facilities, students can now enroll in summer classes beginning Aug. 9 and fall classes beginning Sept. 1 as well. Bergen will offer students assistance through federal emergency aid, while the Bergen Community College Foundation will sponsor $5,000 in tuition relief for students who receive a COVID-19 vaccination. For more information, or to register, visit Bergen.edu or attend a Tuesday, July 13 open house from 5 to 7 p.m. at the main campus, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus.
“With vaccination rates increasing, infection rates decreasing and health officials beginning to significantly loosen restrictions, I say with great enthusiasm that it’s time to come back to Bergen,” President Friedman said. “We look forward to providing students with the opportunity to return to an on-campus environment where they can learn, socialize and enjoy a comprehensive collegiate experience. Additionally, we will continue to follow the best practices recommended by health officials in order to safely reopen our campus.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bergen moved all of its classes and professional operations into a remote environment in March 2020 before reintegrating some on-campus staff and classes thereafter. The College’s on-campus protocols such as requiring face masks, the installation of MERV-rated air filters, providing COVID-19 awareness training for students, faculty and staff and limiting on-campus access helped maintain a secure environment that prevented any cases of community spread occurring among those who took classes or worked on campus.
The College’s pandemic response, directed by President Friedman, Reopening Coordinator Larry Hlavenka, Ed.D., and supported by a reopening taskforce, taskforce subcommittees, the executive team, leadership, collective bargaining unit heads and students, will now feature an updated set of protocols and practices that take effect July 6. Among the considerations, the College will:
· Offer classes across all academic disciplines in its on-campus facilities, though it will also offer a robust online course schedule as well. Previously during the pandemic, only practice-based courses and labs took place on campus;
· Officially open its renovated one-stop student service center at the main campus for the first time. Construction on the reimagined space for admissions, registration and other essential student functions concluded during the pandemic;
· Reopen all campus facilities, offices and resources for faculty and staff in preparation for the fall semester while maintaining some high-performing virtual/online/remote functions;
· Reinstitute on-campus activities, events and gatherings sponsored by groups such as the Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre, STEM Student Research Center and student life; and
· Continue to rely on guidance from federal, state and county health officials regarding best practices for health and safety - including face mask usage for the unvaccinated and thorough contact tracing protocols.
For families and students unsure of their plans for higher education 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.
The College has also frozen tuition rates at last year’s levels and offered students the opportunity to apply for stimulus funds awarded through the institution and federal government. Students interested in receiving more information on Bergen can visit the College’s website at Bergen.edu or attend the July 13 open house.
The foundation’s $5,000 initiative – the Bergen VIP (Vaccine Incentive Program) – will encourage students to not only register at the College, but become vaccinated. Similar incentive programs in New York, West Virginia and Ohio have proven effective at increasing vaccination rates and lowering community risk to COVID-19. Under Bergen VIP, the foundation will offer five $1,000 awards for use at the institution by vaccinated students. Students who provide proof of registration and vaccination through a secure web portal will be entered into a scholarship lottery that will take place Aug. 27 via live YouTube stream for four of the $1,000 awards. Additionally, all new students attending the College’s upcoming July 13 open house at the main campus who either get vaccinated that day on-site (courtesy of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center) or show proof of previous vaccination will enter a lottery held that day to receive one of the $1,000 tuition assistance awards. RSVP for the open house at openhouse.bergen.edu.
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.