September 4, 2020

Dear William Paterson Community:

As we approach the Labor Day weekend, it feels great to know that we have already successfully completed two weeks of the Fall semester. This is due to the great degree of cooperation and adherence to the guidelines on behalf of students, faculty, and staff. While some people still need to be reminded to wear masks, for example, I am pleased that the need for these reminders has decreased since the start of the semester.
The Memorial Day and Independence Day weekend celebrations created spikes in positive COVID-19 cases because too many people let their guards down and ignored social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. We can avoid these problems by being mindful of who we have been around over the past two weeks and who we will interact with over the holiday weekend, especially if they include members of vulnerable populations. 
Let’s commit to keeping our on-campus experience going by taking the good practices we have been following here at William Paterson with us wherever the holiday weekend takes us, whether that’s down the shore or home for time with family. More businesses are opening or expanding operations across the State, which is a sign of New Jersey’s success in getting the virus under control. The trend toward expanded reopening, including here on campus, can only proceed, however, if we all continue to maintain social distance from others not living in our immediate household, regularly wash hands, and wear a mask over mouth and nose. 
Please be mindful that, with your return to campus, you have interacted with a larger circle of people, which could impact compromised members of your family when you return home, if you don’t continue to follow the guidelines. Out of an abundance of care for your family and friends, especially the elderly or those with compromised health, wear a mask and maintain your social distance. Likewise, when you return to campus, especially if coming from the shore or a large gathering of family and friends, you create unnecessary risk, especially if you do not follow the guidance. Labor Day has the potential to be a super-spreader event, so let us all work hard to prevent that from happening.  
As we move into this Labor Day weekend, I hope we all take a moment to consider the holiday’s roots and reflect on the labor unions that have worked tirelessly to create better working conditions, livable wages, and stronger health and safety standards, among other advances for working people. Take some time to reach out and thank our local union leadership for their efforts on our behalf.  
Because Monday is, indeed, a holiday, my next communication update will be on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Until then, have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD