Montclair University will require vaccinations for returning students
By TALIA WIENER
Montclair State University will require all students returning to campus in the fall to be vaccinated against coronavirus.
“Vaccination offers the best path forward for us to return safely to the vibrant, fully accessible campus community we all love,” Montclair State University President Susan Cole said in a Thursday, April 22 message on the school’s website. “Therefore, the university will add the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of immunizations it already requires.”
Cole said that beginning April 23, there will be shuttle buses for students to an Essex County-run vaccine site at the former Livingston Mall Sears. Starting April 27, on-campus vaccinations will be available, provided by Walmart.
Vaccine exemptions will be granted only to students enrolled in fully online degree programs and those who qualify under state law for medical or religious exemptions.
Cole said MSU couldn’t "currently" require its staff to be vaccinated, but “we continue strongly to urge every faculty and staff member to do so, and a large number of our employees have already done so.” A university spokesperson said the school is seeking guidance from the state on whether it can require vaccination for employees.
However, Stevens Institute of Technology — which also announced April 22 it would require vaccination for students returning in the fall — has already extended that requirement to staff.
Rutgers, Princeton and Farleigh Dickinson Universities had all previously announced returning students would have to be vaccinated.
According to MSU data, 2,260 students had reported receiving at least one dose of vaccine by April 16, and 1,583 employees had done so by April 15 — the latest figures available. About 21,000 students are enrolled at the university.
On March 24, MSU announced students would be welcomed back in the fall for in-person classes. The university’s “Red Hawk Restart” plan has been providing guidance to students since July, aligning with Gov. Phil Murphy’s “Road Back” approach to recovery.
The latest COVID-19 data from MSU showed 47 active Covid cases as of April 15, with 45 students and two employees infected.
Montclair Township, as of April 21, reported it had seen 2,566 cases since the pandemic began, and 72 deaths.
Details about the university’s vaccine requirement, including how and when students can submit proof of their vaccinations, will be coming in the following weeks, Cole said.
The university had been the site of Montclair Township’s first presumed coronavirus case, in early March 2020.