A Path Forward

A look into the series of events that went over the procedures and safety of Kean's and New Jersey's return to in-person

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A Path Forward
Kean University plans to return to on campus learning in Fall 2021.
Brandon Gervais, Editor

A year into the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kean University community now looks toward their path back to campus and coming together again safely and effectively. With the numbers of vaccinated persons rising and the knowledge of the virus increasing, the university is looking towards returning to in-person classes in the coming Fall 2021 semester.

Kean University, in collaboration with the State of New Jersey, held a series of discussions with government, health and policy leaders that discussed critical issues and solutions surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

The first of these events was a kick off event on Feb. 5 that provided an overview of the roundtable series as well as a discussion about the importance of vaccine advocacy, especially among communities of color. Kean University President, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. was joined by community and state leaders in health care to go over many topics including the hesitancy of receiving vaccinations as well as pointing out and highlighting the importance of using the facts and science to guide our decisions and not myths. Event speakers included: President Repollet, U.S. Representative, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Senior Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy, Rev. Derrick Green, and New Jersey Commissioner of Health, Judith Persichilli.

For students interested in the COVID 19 Vaccinations and NJ Path Forward Kickoff Event, it can be watched on the Kean University Youtube page.

While the kick off event was a precursor for what was to come, the events that comprised the month long Path Forward Series were each in depth roundtable discussions on important topics that are in relations to Kean's move towards an on-campus return.

The next event on Feb. 12 was the Vaccine and Safety and Efficiency. The event centered around debunking myths and going over the facts available about the COVID-19 vaccines. This panel included health experts to discuss the stigma that surrounds this new technoolgy. The event included panelists: President Repollet, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Rev. Derrick Green, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Phil Murphy, former Deputy Commissioner and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, N.J. Department of Health North Brunswick Council woman Claribel Cortes, Governor Murphy's nominee for Middlesex County Surrogate Reva Foster, Chairwoman of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention and President of the Hillside Board of Education, Kimberly Cook.

For students interested in the Vaccine and Safety and Efficiency discussion panel, it can be found on the Kean University Youtube page.

On Feb. 19, the next panel event, Next Steps for our Urban Communities, discussed moving forward with vaccine information in urban communities and getting all the information out to those who may not have full access to it. Part of the stigma and hesitancy for receiving the vaccine is from minority groups and urban communities. This likely stems from the long history of mistreatment of vaccines and minority communities.

Panelists included:

President of Kean University Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, (D-N.J., 8th District)
Chief Strategic Integration and Health Equity Officer, University Hospital, Newark, Dr. Chris T. Pernell, MPH, FACPM
Executive Director, Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, NJ Department of Health, Amanda Medina-Forrester
Union County Manager and member of Kean University Board of Trustees, Edward T. Oatman
Mayor of Elizabeth, Chris Bollwage,
Mayor of Atlantic City, Marty Small Sr.
Mayor of Hillside, Dahlia Vertreese
Chairman of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Carlos Medina

For students interested in the Next Steps for Our Urban Communities discussion panel, it can be found on the Kean University Youtube page.

The next event took place on Feb. 26 and discussed the return to play for New Jersey student athletes. The Returning to Play for New Jersey’s Student Athletes panel discussed the impact the pandemic has had on students and especially how it has affected the lives of student athletes who have lost their outlet. The panel discussed the procedures for the return to the field and courts of student sports teams.

Panelists for the the New Jersey's Student Athletes panel included:

President of Kean University, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D.
Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. 35th Legislative District of New Jersey
Pediatric infectious disease consultant and advisor to NJDOH Commissioner, Dr. Margaret Fisher
Athletic Director of Kean University, Kelly Williams
Chief Operating Officer at NJSIAA, Colleen Maguire
Director of Sports Medicine/SWA at Kean University, Denise Wujciak
Head Football Coach in Hillside, N.J., Barris Grant

For students interested in the Returning to Play for New Jersey's Student Athletes discussion panel, it can be found on Kean University Youtube page.

The final event in the roundtable series took place on March 5 and covered Supporting Women at Work and at Home. This event, in conjunction of the celebration of Women's History Month, looked into the impact the global pandemic has had on women specifically both personally and professionally. The panel included policy and advocacy experts to discuss ways to help women through this unprecedented time.

Panelists for the Supporting Women at Work and at Home panel included:

President of Kean University, Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D. 
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-N.J.,12th District)
President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten
State Senator M. Teresa Ruiz
Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter
Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach, Office of the Governor, Deborah Cornavaca

For students interested in the Supporting Women at Work and at Home panel, it can be found on the Kean University Youtube page.

All in all, each of these events were educational and thought provoking. They brought up in-depth discussions on the situations in the world today and how we move forward through the on-going global pandemic. Students looking for more information on these events can look at the Kean University Path Forward page on the Kean University website.

For more information and announcements on this upcoming Fall semester, be sure to keep an eye on the Kean President's announcements and the Cougar Restart Guide.

about the author
Brandon Gervais - web

Brandon Gervais, Editor

Brandon Gervais is a junior English education double major. Brandon works as an Editor for The Cougar’s Byte and originally joined the staff as a Staff Writer in November 2017. He is a part of the Leadership Institute as a Gold leader and has worked as a New Student Orientation Leader. In his free time, he is a performer for a world class independent competitive color guard team and coaches the Union High School Color Guard.