NEWTON — Sussex County Community College will hold classes remotely for the first two weeks of the spring semester due to an increase in COVID-19 cases within the past month.
The college announced Tuesday afternoon that while classes will start on Monday as previously scheduled, "a change in the course delivery is necessary due to the rise in COVID cases in the county and the state of New Jersey." SCCC's plan is to resume in-person classes Monday, Feb. 7.
Under the college's COVID policy, all students and staff members must wear a face covering when in buildings on campus unless "engaged in an activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask" such as eating or drinking. Masks are recommended but not required outdoors.
Student-athletes do not have to wear a mask when taking part in physical activities in a well-ventilated area. However, the college will not allow spectators for its indoor sports teams — wrestling and men's and women's basketball — for the rest of their seasons.
SCCC's announcement comes as COVID case totals in the area appear to be on the decline following record-high figures earlier in the month.
The Sussex County Division of Health reported 218 cases on Jan. 14, the fewest in a single report since Dec. 23. The county saw its highest one-day total of 610 new cases on Jan. 4, followed by 555 on Jan. 5, 476 on Jan. 6 and 499 on Jan. 7.
After reporting 1,220 cases from Jan. 8 to Jan. 10, the case numbers dropped to 368 on Jan. 11, 359 on Jan. 12 and 371 on Jan. 13.
The state Health Department's COVID website reported 5,251 patients hospitalized due to the virus on Monday, the sixth consecutive day of declining numbers. Gov. Phil Murphy reported Wednesday that the number of hospitalizations had dropped again to 5,204.
The two-year college, established in 1981, is located in Newton and attended by slightly fewer than 3,000 students.
This article originally appeared on New Jersey Herald: Sussex County college to start spring semester with virtual classes