With nearly three months to go before the beginning of the fall semester, I write to you with information on our plans for our full reopening in the fall. Following Governor Murphy’s recent announcement lifting many current COVID-19 restrictions throughout New Jersey, and pursuant to prevailing public health guidance from the CDC, Monmouth University is prepared to adopt and enforce the protocols below for the 2021-2022 academic year. If these entities change position on any of the areas below, then the University will reassess these protocols and communicate any updates accordingly.
The University has carefully considered the role that COVID-19 vaccinations will play in safeguarding the overall health and safety of the University community. We acknowledge that reaching a high vaccination level among our community is the most important factor in resuming in-person activities across campus this fall. Accordingly, the University is requiring every member of the Monmouth community (i.e., students, faculty, staff) to be fully vaccinated* OR have an approved exemption prior to returning to campus for work or school in preparation for the start of the fall 2021 semester.
To help facilitate a high vaccination level, we will continue to inform our community of vaccine clinics on and around campus, the next of which will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23 in Anacon B at the Stafford Student Center. This clinic is sponsored by the VNA of Central Jersey, and both the Moderna and the J&J/Janssen vaccines will be available – at no cost – to Monmouth students, employees, and adult (18+ years) family members and friends. Please continue to monitor your Monmouth email over the coming days for additional details. In order to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the community, including, but not limited to our ongoing contact tracing efforts, we must also have up-to-date vaccination statuses on file for all of our members.
*A fully vaccinated individual has received the recommended dosage (including any booster shot) and completed the recommended waiting period (including the waiting period for any booster shot).
- Exemption Policy: The benefits of individual and widespread COVID-19 vaccination are well-documented. However, the University will allow individuals to petition for a vaccination exemption on medical or religious grounds, or on the basis of the COVID-19 vaccine’s current emergency use authorization (EUA) status.
In each of these instances, students must file for an exemption through the Student Health Portal. Specific information about the exemption process will be available through Health Services. Medical exemption requests must be supported by documentation from a health care provider. If you have any trouble accessing a healthcare provider, please contact the Office of Health Services at 732-571-3464 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Religious exemption requests may only be established consistent with State law upon the grounds that the immunization interferes with the free exercise of the individual’s religious rights. EUA exemption requests will provide for a temporary exemption until such time as the FDA has effectively lifted the EUA for all current COVID-19 vaccines. The University reserves the right to request further documentation if needed to assess the request. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
- Documentation Requirement: To safeguard the health and well-being of our community, we are requiring every individual to provide up-to-date information on vaccination status (i.e., vaccination record or required exemption documentation) through the Health Portal by August 1. We encourage you to enter your vaccination information into the system as soon as possible to avoid any problems that may be caused by waiting until the last minute, particularly if an exemption is being sought.
- Impact on Unvaccinated Individuals: Those individuals who petition for exemptions will be subject to heightened health and safety protocols, in ongoing efforts to protect the community from the risk of COVID-19. The ability to attend Monmouth University this fall will be contingent upon compliance with these expectations. Examples of such increased health and safety measures include:
- All residential students must provide evidence of a negative COVID test – completed no more than 72 hours in advance of move-in – prior to the designated move-in date.
- Mask requirement indoors at all times.
- Weekly surveillance testing requirement through Health Services.
- Use of Campus Clear symptom tracking app whenever reporting to campus.
- Unvaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for the duration of the isolation period – consistent with CDC and University guidelines – and class attendance policies will continue to apply to the required absences.
- Unvaccinated individuals who come in close physical contact with someone who has COVID-19 must first report the exposure to Health Services, and then quarantine pursuant to local public health guidelines (7-10 days depending on evidence of negative test results), with no guarantee of remote learning availability during the quarantine, and class attendance policies will continue to apply to the required absences. Unvaccinated residential students will be required to quarantine in a designated facility on campus.
- In the event of an outbreak among our campus community, unvaccinated students may be sent home. At such time of an outbreak, the University will need to revisit this policy and consider adjustments to current course modalities.
- Consequence for Noncompliance: Unvaccinated students who do not comply with the additional protocols outlined will face disciplinary action. Over time, recurrent failure to comply may lead to suspension of attendance and activities at the University.
According to the CDC, universal vaccination appears to be the most effective path forward to resuming pre-pandemic levels of normal activity. In addition to the vaccination mandate for all students, faculty, and staff, the University will continue to require masks in all classroom, lab, and teaching spaces, as well as the library, for everyone in attendance, regardless of vaccination status. Individual faculty and support staff may also require students visiting their respective offices to be masked before meeting. Masks will not be required outdoors or in other communal spaces on campus (e.g., dining hall, student center, fitness center, etc.), unless an individual is unvaccinated and/or exhibiting one or more COVID symptoms.
Under Executive Order No. 242, the Governor recently relaxed the 6-feet social distancing requirement at all New Jersey institutions of higher education. However, out of an abundance of caution, the University will try, when possible, to establish 3-feet social distancing wherever any in-person instruction is taking place on campus (e.g., classroom, lab, teaching space, etc.). Individual faculty and support staff may also require students visiting their respective offices to adhere to the 3-feet social distance requirement.
Other Health and Safety Measures
Even though the CDC has stated that the risk for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects is very low, the University will continue to carry out enhanced cleaning and sanitizing efforts throughout all areas of campus.
Each of these protocols is subject to change based on any modifications to the prevailing public health guidance from the CDC, OSHE, and our local governing public health authorities. The University’s decision to require the vaccine, combined with these other health and safety measures, will help to ensure the continued protection of the community as the campus reopens this fall. Since its beginnings on our campus, this pandemic has required the will, understanding, and participation of each of us to protect all of us. After much consideration, these healthcare protocols emerged from this same spirit of caring for not only ourselves, but also for others, to help our University get back to normal operations as safely as possible.
We understand that you may have questions, and we plan to host informational Zoom sessions in the near future to address them. Please continue to monitor your student email account for additional details. Until then, feel free to direct any questions regarding our fall protocols and plans to Fall2021@monmouth.edu. Our staff is standing by to help you. As always, thank you for your caring commitment to our University community. We look forward to seeing you on campus soon.
Dr. Patrick F. Leahy