By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
About 1 in 10 Montclair State University students planning to return for on-campus classes this fall still hadn’t been vaccinated against coronavirus at the start of this week — with about 480 at risk of being disenrolled.
But that number could shrink over the next few days, with the Sept. 2 start of classes approaching fast.
The school first announced in April it would require students coming back to campus to be vaccinated. It hadn’t put such a requirement in place for staff at the time, but Gov. Phil Murphy Monday ordered full vaccination for all state employees, including those of public colleges, by Oct. 18.
As of Monday morning, 90.6% of the 18,461 students who’d registered for on-campus classes were either fully vaccinated or had received at least one shot of a vaccine, MSU spokesman Andrew Mees said. Another 6.9% had received approved exemptions.
The remaining 2.6% — about 480 students — will be deregistered from classes if they don’t have at least one dose of vaccine by Friday, Mees said.
“We have heard from many of them that they intend to do so,” he said.
Students have until Sept. 30 to be fully immunized, or be withdrawn from their classes. Students who aren’t yet fully immunized won’t be allowed to move into campus housing, must be tested regularly for coronavirus, must wear masks and must follow other safety precautions shared by unvaccinated students who have exemptions.
Students who have fully online schedules — 1,723 this fall — can’t come to campus under any circumstances until they’re fully vaccinated unless they have exemptions, Mees said.
The policies “are designed to help keep non-compliant students on track toward graduation while managing the risk of COVID,” Mees said.
Of the fully online students, 1,168 are fully vaccinated, Mees said. Another 81 students had received one dose by Monday, and 65 had received exemptions. As of Monday, 409 hadn’t submitted any proof of vaccination or received exemptions, meaning they wouldn’t be allowed to set foot at MSU.
Montclair State University is also requiring all people on campus wear masks indoors except when in private spaces, under policies last updated earlier this month. It says people can remove their masks briefly when eating and drinking, but only when they’re able to keep at least six feet of distance from others. Masks are required whenever in school vehicles, including buses and shuttles. Masks are only required outdoors when in crowded settings or participating in activities that involve close contact with others. Exemptions are available for those with health conditions that prevent wearing face coverings.
The school has been holding free vaccination clinics throughout the month of August, open to the general public. The next will be held Aug. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside of the Panzer Athletic Center on campus. Walk-ins are permitted, but registration at Montclair.edu is preferred.
Mees said the school is reviewing the language of the governor’s order requiring state employees to be vaccinated, and will develop implementation strategies.