Taking note of President Biden’s vow to make every adult eligible for a vaccine by early summer, Rutgers University, in New Jersey, announced Thursday that all students would need to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before they would be allowed to return to campus in the fall.
“Adding COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students,” said Jonathan Holloway, the president of Rutgers University, in a statement. The university, one of the largest in the country, is thought to be among the first to require students to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
That requirement will apply to Rutgers’ three main campuses, in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden. Beginning in the fall, students will have to show “proof of vaccination” before moving into their dorm or attending in-person classes.
According to the university, students may file for an exemption for medical or religious reasons. Those attending fully online or off-campus programs will also be exempt. The university has more than 70,000 students, 81 percent of whom are New Jersey residents.
Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state would have enough vaccine supply “for almost everyone” by May. He has set a goal of insuring that 70 percent of the state’s adult population is inoculated in the next six months.
Rutgers plans to open a vaccine center once more doses become available. Dory Devlin, a university spokeswoman, said the college was still developing plans for how vaccinated and non-vaccinated students will interact.
Even with the new requirement, students on the Rutgers campuses will be required to practice social distancing and use face coverings, the university said. All faculty, staff and students on campus will be required to participate in the university’s testing program. And the university anticipates continuing to offer some hybrid courses to prevent crowding in classrooms next school year, Ms. Devlin said.
So far, university leaders have not made it mandatory for faculty and staff to be vaccinated but “strongly urge” its employees to do so before the fall.