Dear Montclair State University Community:
The past year has been a difficult one, and we have all had to adjust to the many changes forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been amazed – though not surprised – by how well this community has responded. Your resiliency, determination, and ability to innovate new ways of teaching, learning, and providing important services has enabled the University to remain strong and carry on through this complicated and stressful time.
In recent days, I have been heartened by signs that the State is making progress against the virus. New cases are trending downward, and although the pandemic is far from over, we can envision being in a very different place four months from now, when the fall semester begins.
One of the most important reasons for my optimism is the increasing availability – and adoption – of vaccines that protect against COVID-19. Already, nearly 4,000 of you have reported on Hawk Check that you have received at least one dose. On Monday, everyone aged 16 and over became eligible for vaccination in New Jersey, and yesterday, our shuttle buses began carrying hundreds of residential students to the Livingston Mall to receive their first shot.
Vaccination offers the best path forward for us to return safely to the vibrant, fully accessible campus community we all love. Therefore, the University will add the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of immunizations it already requires, and students will need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus this fall.
The requirement will apply to every student, undergraduate and graduate, commuter and residential, except (1) those who are enrolled in fully online degree programs that offer no on-campus instruction, activities, or services and (2) those who qualify under New Jersey law for medical or religious exemptions. Visit the Vaccine FAQs web page for additional information.
The University cannot at this time mandate that employees get vaccinated. However, we continue to strongly urge every faculty and staff member to do so, and a large number of our employees have already done so. Now that vaccinations are widely available, we expect that most, if not all, employees will be fully vaccinated by the time the fall semester begins.
Tomorrow, Friday, shuttle buses will again be carrying students to the Livingston Mall for vaccinations, and, as the result of the great work of a team of people, the University has at last been approved to host a vaccination clinic on campus. The first on-campus vaccination opportunity will be next Tuesday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will be provided by Walmart and open to all students and employees. Watch for more information soon.
In the weeks to come, the University will provide more details about the vaccine requirement, including how and when students can submit their proof.
For now, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you are able.