I hope your first weeks of 2022 are off to a healthy start. As promised in my email on January 7, I am writing with additional details on our updated plans for the spring semester.
As students and faculty prepare to return to campus, we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Our high vaccination rates, coupled with our indoor masking, surveillance testing, and social distance requirements, have enabled our community to arrive safely at this point in the academic year. Our goal through these updated plans is to limit the spread of the virus early in the semester in order to preserve an in-person experience throughout the remainder of the academic year.
The senior leadership team and I have been following closely the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation, including frequent conversations with the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission. In consultation with our faculty, staff, and student leadership groups, we feel confident that we have developed reasonable plans, as noted in further detail below, to ensure a safe start to the spring semester and to protect the overall health of the University community.
Remote Learning Status: For an emergency period of Tuesday, January 18 through Monday, January 24, all classes will migrate to an online format. Public health officials have indicated that the Omicron variant will likely peak sometime in mid-January, followed by a decline in positive cases and transmission rate. By shifting to emergency remote learning for this discrete period, we hope to mitigate the risk of exposure among our community. It is our intent to return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 25, subject to a variety of circumstances.
Boosters: Because of waning immunity considerations for individuals who were fully vaccinated more than five months ago with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or more than two months ago with the J&J vaccine, the University is requiring every member of the Monmouth community (i.e., students, faculty, staff) to get the appropriate booster dose for their initial vaccination series.
To help make the vaccine and booster readily available to our community, we will be hosting our next on-campus clinic on Thursday, January 27, and the Monmouth County Health Department will be offering walk-in clinics throughout the county during the month of January.
All employees must provide up-to-date information on their vaccination status (with available booster) through the Employee Health Portal by March 1. Any unvaccinated member of our community, including those who do not receive the appropriate booster dose for their initial vaccination series by March 1, will be required to comply with the heightened health and safety protocols put into place last semester, including weekly surveillance testing.
Exemption Policy: The University will continue to allow petitions for a vaccine or booster exemption on medical or religious grounds but has decided to phase out the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, effective March 1. Employees who had previously been granted an EUA exemption must comply with the vaccination requirement and demonstrate either proof of vaccination or petition for an alternate exemption on medical or religious grounds.
Health and Safety Protocols
Masking: The University’s indoor masking requirement remains in place until further notice. Under this requirement, all members of the Monmouth University community and guests to our campus – regardless of vaccination status – are required to wear masks indoors, except when actively eating or drinking and when in their private office or residence hall room. Masks must be worn properly – with mouth and nose fully covered – at all other times indoors.
Social Distancing: The University will continue, when possible, to establish and enforce a social distancing requirement of three feet wherever any in-person instruction is taking place on campus (e.g., classroom, lab, teaching space, etc.). Individual faculty and staff members may also require visitors to their respective offices to adhere to the 3-foot social distance requirement.
Isolation/Quarantine: Members of the Monmouth University community who test positive or qualify as close contacts necessitating an isolation or quarantine period must follow the prevailing NJDOH guidelines on isolation and quarantine periods. More detailed information on these guidelines is forthcoming from Health Services and the Office of Human Resources.
I look forward to discussing these updates in greater detail on my open call with faculty and staff tomorrow (Friday, January 14) at 9 a.m. If you have questions regarding use of paid time off (sick/vacation/personal) or other employment benefits, please contact Robyn Salvo in the Office of Human Resources at 732-263-5228 or email@example.com. For questions related to testing and healthcare protocols, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As has been the case since March 2020, this is a very fluid situation. We will continue to monitor public health guidance and watch for updates from the State which might affect our plans. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation, and for your continued efforts to preserve the good health of our community.