Rutgers will still require COVID-19 vaccine, masks

(NewsNation) — While nearly all universities and colleges across the country have dropped the strictest guidelines stemming from the pandemic, a few holdouts remain.

More than 100 schools still require students to be vaccinated in order to attend classes in person, according to No College Mandates, a group that tracks COVID-19 policies in higher education.

A smaller number of schools, including Rutgers and Georgetown, still require indoor masking.

As students are set to return to classes next month, many are wondering whether enrollment will be impacted.

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In terms of COVID guidelines, the distinction between public and private schools is important. While private universities have more flexibility, public schools typically have to adhere to state guidelines.

Rutgers said incoming students must abide by a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to the school website. The mandate says there will be no exceptions, though it also says evaluation of exception requests will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Even if students are hypothetically granted an exemption to the vaccination rule, on-campus attendance is not guaranteed, and students will be required to undergo testing.

“If their choice is that they cannot be here under these conditions, we understand that. We wanted to give them that … opportunity, though, to make that choice and not be rushed into that choice,” said Antonio Calcado, chief operating officer at Rutgers University.

New Jersey Sen. Declan O’Scanlon told NewsNation that he is ready to stand with any student who may be disenrolled from the university over their vaccination status, going so far as to call Rutgers administrators cowards.

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“For Rutgers, which should be the preeminent scientific institution, public institution in New Jersey, to be clinging to this now anti-science and punishing students — life-changing punishment, by the way — is outrageous. The administrators at Rutgers should be ashamed of themselves,” O’Scanlon said.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its most relaxed set of COVID guidelines since the pandemic began, reporting that the COVID-19 public health emergency is over. Across New Jersey, nearly all school districts have dropped all indoor mask requirements.

Nationally, the American College Health Association said 61% of all campuses recommend students receive a vaccine. Only about 18% of the 300 schools surveyed require students to be vaccinated.

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