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Rutgers mandates booster shots, temporarily moves classes online for start of spring 2022

The return to housing has also been delayed in light of classes taking place remotely.  – Photo by The Daily Targum

Rutgers will hold classes remotely from the start of the spring semester on Jan. 18 until Jan. 30, and all vaccinated students who are eligible for a booster shot must receive one by then in light of rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, according to a University-wide email sent today.

“The data and the science surrounding the surge in COVID-19 cases, and the dramatic spread of the omicron variant, require that we adapt to the evolving situation without sacrificing our goal of returning to a campus experience that is robust, rewarding and safe,” said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Antonio M. Calcado in the email.

Students are required to upload records of their booster shots to the Rutgers vaccine portal by Jan. 31, according to the email. People are eligible for a booster shot six months after their last Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or two months after the initial Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Rutgers employees will also be required to receive a booster shot by an unspecified date, with more information to come later this week, according to the email. They must upload proof of vaccination outside of a booster shot by Jan. 4.

Students and employees who are exempt from the vaccine for medical and religious reasons do not have to receive a booster shot.

Residence halls will reopen on Jan. 29 instead of Jan. 16, with the exception of full-year, Rutgers Biomedical Health Sciences and international student contracts, according to the email. University spokesperson Dory Devlin said the full-year contract applies to students who reside on-campus 12 months out of the year compared to a typical nine-and-a-half-month undergraduate contract.

Students living on-campus are strongly encouraged to provide proof of a booster shot by Jan. 15 and to get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their return.

“Students with extenuating circumstances should reach out to their respective campus Residence Life office for potential accommodations,” Calcado said. “Information on any financial credits or offsets will be forthcoming.”

Students in Rutgers housing who test positive for COVID-19 or are confirmed to be exposed may have to quarantine or isolate at home if deemed necessary by the University, according to the email. Employees are encouraged to quarantine and isolate in accordance with the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Rutgers dining facilities will provide carryout only until Jan. 31, according to the email. Devlin said this restriction does not apply to restaurants located within University student centers.

University clinics, libraries, computer labs and research operations remain open at this time, according to the email. Recreation, student and campus centers are open to RUID cardholders only. Masking is required indoors on-campus unless alone in an enclosed office or another kind of designated work station.

Athletics events remain open to spectators and require proof of full vaccination or a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of attendance and face coverings at all times, according to the email. Other in-person events will resume on Jan. 31 with similar protocols.

Devlin said the University does not expect to require booster shots for individuals attending athletic events at this time. She said the University will continue to follow scientific data, state and federal guidelines going forward.

Essential workers should follow their normal schedules unless told otherwise by supervisors and may receive free weekly testing at Rutgers through Jan. 31, according to the email. While Devlin said the University does not have any plans at this time to change its current COVID-19 testing protocols, free at-home testing is available through the state for employees and students who reside in New Jersey.

Additional information and clarification regarding the announcement will soon be released by chancellors, Devlin said. Students can expect to receive more details on topics such as academic plans and financial credits or offsets over the next week and a half.

Editor's Note: This article was updated with additional reporting.

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