By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
Montclair State University has announced it will bring students back for in-person learning this fall.
The news was shared with students on Wednesday, March 24, in a message to the school community that said the university plans to provide a “new normal” experience in the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
“We will be working to make your fall 2021 semester very different from what we have experienced over the past year,” the message said. “We want you to be able to enjoy the rich and vibrant campus life that has been the hallmark of Montclair State University.”
In July, Montclair State announced its “Red Hawk Restart,” a plan that provides general safeguards for students, faculty, staff and visitors that aligned with Gov. Phil Murphy’s phased approach to recovery amid the pandemic.
According to the plan, the university’s reopening goals included providing students with a “rigorous and meaningful education” and opportunity to make progress toward their degrees, continuing research and scholarly work, and being “sensitive to the health and safety of every member of the campus community.”
For this upcoming semester, the university said safety will be the main priority, and the school will follow all applicable state and federal guidelines. It will also rely on recommendations of its on-campus experts, the announcement said.
Rutgers University announced March 25 it would require students who are enrolled for the fall semester to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, saying the “widespread vaccination will accelerate the return to a pre-pandemic normal on the university’s campuses.” The school said that would enable increased in-person classes, more on-campus events and activities and collaboration in research projects. Rutgers is among the first U.S. universities to have such a mandate, as schools begin preparing for a return to campus life after a year of remote or hybrid learning.
MSU said last week it’s encouraging members of its campus community to be vaccinated, but hasn’t yet made a decision whether to require vaccination.
Murphy announced March 26 that college staff and faculty would become eligible for vaccinations on April 5.
Jessica S. Henry, a professor of legal studies, told Montclair Local she’s happy vaccines will be available.
“I would prefer that students are vaccinated to better protect everyone around them — and to protect themselves,” she said.
In its announcement, the university said it would continue to provide some on-campus classes and allow some students to live in its residence halls.
According to the university, its rates of infection remain much lower than in the surrounding communities, and it has not documented cases being transmitted in classrooms or laboratory settings.
MSU said it will continue to follow state and federal guidelines, continue enforcing face covering on campus, require students and employees who live on campus to take the school’s self-assessment daily before leaving their rooms and require visitors and contractors to do the same self-assessment six to 14 hours before coming to campus.