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Rutgers Announces Sweeping COVID Policy Changes to Start Semester as Omicron Surges

The university is adding vaccine booster requirements, leveraging remote instruction early where possible and changing its return-to-housing dates as part of a sweeping COVID protocol enhancement

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What to Know

  • Remote instruction will continue through Jan. 31 where possible; all students and employees who are eligible for boosters must get them
  • Students have seen their move-in dates pushed to the end of the month; the dining halls will offer to-go meals only until then as well
  • Vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours is required to attend any on-campus event or in-person activities, which are expected to resume on Jan. 31

New Jersey's Rutgers University became the latest college to debut revamped COVID-19 protocol for the upcoming semester amid an omicron-fueled viral surge shattering daily case records on a regular basis as hospitalizations soar.

The changes announced Tuesday apply to the start of the spring semester, which is slated to begin on Jan. 18. The university has shifted its return-to-housing date, added new vaccine requirements and will leverage early remote instruction where possible across its three campuses in New Brunswick, Newark and Camden.

These are the major changes university officials revealed Tuesday:

  • Booster shots for all eligible students and employees are required
  • In-person classes will temporarily move remote where possible through Sunday, Jan. 30; there was no immediate indication given as to how many classes this would effect
  • Employees should work remotely until Jan. 31 if possible
  • Vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours is required to attend any on-campus event or in-person activities, which are expected to resume on Jan. 31
  • Quarantine time for COVID-exposed or COVID-positive employees has been modified to five days to fit the CDC's recently changed recommendation
  • Student on-campus move-in dates have been postponed from Jan. 16-17 to Jan. 29-30
  • Dining halls will serve meals only on a to-go basis until Jan. 31

"The data and the science surrounding the surge in COVID-19 cases, and the dramatic spread of the omicron variant, require that we adapt to the evolving situation without sacrificing our goal of returning to a campus experience that is robust, rewarding, and safe," Antonio Calcado, executive vice president and chief operating officer with Rutgers, wrote in a message to the university community.

"To do so, we are implementing appropriate contingency plans that rely on today’s best available information and expertise so that we may continue to manage the impact of this virus at the university," Calcado continued.

Rutgers was the first university in the country to require COVID vaccinations for students returning to campus last fall and joins a growing list of campuses to implement booster and other protective measures, like temporary remote instruction. The list includes Cornell and Princeton universities, which both shifted finals remote the last week of the fall 2021 semester amid high viral rates.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has also mandated boosters for the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) school systems.

Copyright NBC New York
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