Rutgers says booster shots will be required amid COVID spike

Published: Jan. 04, 2022

Rutgers University students must have a booster shot for the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 31, school officials announced Tuesday.

The announcement by New Jersey’s largest university comes on the heels of similar decisions made throughout the country and amid a significant rise in coronavirus cases throughout the state, in large part attributed to the omicron variant.

“(The) proof of the booster must be uploaded to the vaccine portal by (Jan. 31). Students residing on campus are strongly encouraged to upload their status by Jan. 15,” Tony Calcado, executive vice president and CEO said in a letter to the campus community Tuesday morning.

Remote learning, which the school previously announced, will remain in place through at least Jan. 30, school officials said.

“By extending instruction online until the end of the month and extending our telecommuting for employees, we will keep more people off of campus … Many people may contract COVID, but not be symptomatic. From home, they can continue to do their daily work, (without potentially exposing others),” Calcado told NJ Advance Media.

Rutgers campuses, which are made up of about 100,000 students and staff members across three campuses in Newark, New Brunswick and Camden, anticipate a predominantly in-person spring semester. Still, university officials have said that that is subject to change as COVID cases increase nationwide.

The university said Tuesday that all employees, who are currently encouraged to work remotely “when possible” until Jan. 31, will also be required to have a booster shot. A deadline for the requirement is expected later this week.

The university’s winter session, which shifted to remote in early October, lasts until mid-January. The spring semester starts Jan. 18 and lasts until mid-May.

About 98% of school staff are currently fully vaccinated according to data from earlier this week, Calcado said. He said all Rutgers students are either fully vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption.

Calcado said he doesn’t anticipate classes remaining remote for the spring semester.

“When we look at the data, we see what’s happened for instance in South Africa, the first (country) to really be hit hard with omicron. We see that not only has it plateaued, but the cases are dropping precipitously,” he said. “Part of requiring boosters now is to add additional layers of protection, so we really do expect to be back in person on Jan. 31.”

Officials also said Tuesday that the date for students planning to return to housing on campus has been moved from Jan. 16 and 17 to Jan. 29 and 30.

Anyone attending on-campus events, which are currently scheduled to return Jan. 31, must have vaccine proof or a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the in-person gathering. University dining halls will continue to serve to-go until the end of the month.

As of now, face masks are required while indoors on campus and most of the facilities, including libraries and computer labs, are only open to RUID card holders.

Princeton University officials also recently announced booster shot requirements, restrictions on gatherings in dorms and off-campus housing, as well as limits on parties and other events through at least mid-February.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-05 03:20:26 -0800