Monmouth keeps masks on for fall, mandates vaccines

The university says it will allow for petitions for students uncomfortable with emergency use authorization.

While institutions across the country are lifting mask mandates and other mitigation protocols as they look ahead to the fall, Monmouth University in New Jersey is preparing to do the opposite to reopen.

  • It will require masks for all individuals in classrooms, the library and instructional spaces for the fall semester.
  • It will enforce 3 feet of social distancing for any instructional space.
  • And it is requiring vaccination of all students, staff, faculty and guests.

After a rough year in which it had scores of COVID-19 positive cases and lost millions in revenue, according to the Asbury Park Press, Monmouth has chosen a conservative and safe path. The university’s announcement comes just two weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy lifted the last of the restrictions in place on New Jersey residents regarding indoor capacity.

“The University’s decision to require the vaccine, combined with these other health and safety measures, will help to ensure the continued protection of the community as the campus reopens this fall,” Dr. Patrick Leahy, Monmouth University President, said in a letter to the community. “After much consideration, these healthcare protocols emerged from this same spirit of caring for not only ourselves, but also for others, to help our university get back to normal operations as safely as possible.”

Monmouth is allowing petitions for those who are seeking medical and religious exemptions but also significantly for those who don’t feel comfortable with the vaccines under their emergency use authorization status. Monmouth will decide whether those exemptions will be granted, but few, if any, institutions are offering that option.

While that is designed to stem potential pushback, the letter directly challenges an executive order from Murphy’s decisions in several areas.

“The Governor recently relaxed the 6-feet social distancing requirement at all New Jersey institutions of higher education,” Leahy wrote. “However, out of an abundance of caution, the university will try, when possible, to establish 3-feet social distancing wherever any in-person instruction is taking place on campus (e.g., classroom, lab, teaching space, etc.). Individual faculty and support staff may also require students visiting their respective offices to adhere to the 3-feet social distance requirement.”

As for masks, Leahy said Monmouth is simply continuing the protocols from the 2020-21 year. It also will use the same sanitizing measures, “even though the CDC has stated that the risk for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects is very low.”

Editor’s note: This article incorrectly said that the governor of New Jersey is Chris Murphy. It has been corrected to Phil Murphy.

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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