All Rutgers students will be able to return to campus in the Fall 2021 semester provided they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to a University-wide email sent today.
Proof of vaccination by any authorized vaccine in the U.S. will be mandatory for students returning in the fall, with individuals being able to request an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Faculty and staff are "strongly urged," but not required, to get vaccinated.
“The anticipated additional availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is enabling Rutgers to take steps to protect the health of our academic community and to move toward a full return to our pre-pandemic normal as a vibrant institution in Fall 2021,” said University President Jonathan Holloway, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prabhas V. Moghe and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Antonio M. Calcado, according to the email.
The University initially said in January that vaccines would not be required, according to NJ Advance Media. Holloway, Moghe and Calcado said recent developments, including President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s expectations that all adults may have access to at least one vaccine dose by early summer, as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding fully vaccinated individuals, also helped them reach this decision.
Additionally, officials announced that the University has been approved by the state to set up COVID-19 vaccine administration clinics for Rutgers community members when supplies become available. Though, until that happens, the officials urged individuals who are eligible to register with the state for their vaccine, according to the email.
The University officials said immunization against COVID-19 will be critical in keeping the Rutgers community safe, according to the email. Specific benefits may include increased in-person classes and experiences, more opportunities for various events and activities, greater dining and recreation opportunities and increased options for interpersonal collaboration.
“The COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death,” said Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs, according to a press release. “Vaccination is key to stopping the current pandemic and to the return of campus instruction and activities closer to what we were accustomed to before the pandemic drastically changed life at Rutgers.”
Additional information regarding vaccine clinics, exemptions and fall planning will be released in the upcoming days, according to the email.
“From the onset of the pandemic, the safety of the broader Rutgers community has been our shared responsibility. This has never been more true,” Holloway, Moghe and Calcado said. “The importance of an effective vaccination program to make our community safer for all cannot be overstated.”
Editor's Note: This article has been updated with additional reporting.