There have been 468 reported cases of COVID-19 at 22 of New Jersey’s major institutions of higher education. While the number of infections is far lower than many other states, the spread of the virus on college campuses remains a concern.
“One of our best defenses against COVID-19 is frequent and accessible testing. This is especially important in congregate living settings like college dorms,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. “Large-scale testing will help colleges trace clusters of cases and take necessary precautions to contain the spread.”
Assemblywoman Jasey, along with Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, sponsor legislation (A-4411) that would allow higher education institutions in New Jersey to expand their testing capabilities by purchasing COVID-19 testing kits, including nasal swabs and antibody tests, through contracts from the Division of Purchase and Property in the Department of Treasury. Colleges would also be able to purchase large quantities of personal protective equipment.
The measure was approved Thursday by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
“Even with social distancing, mandatory face coverings and more hybrid classes, there are bound to be COVID-19 cases on college campuses. The key to keeping colleges open will be to find and contain these cases when they arise,” said Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington). “After a chaotic spring semester, we must do all we can to safely return students to a normal education setting while keeping their health a top priority.”
The bill now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.