Thursday, August 19, 2021
Murphy: No Public Vaccine or Mask Mandate but "All Options are on the Table"
While masks are required for K-12 schools, Governor Murphy made clear that “all options are on the table” as he considers additional requirements to combat the spread of COVID-19. New Jersey has not followed New York City in instituting a proof of vaccination requirement for indoor public activities. Murphy also noted that of 378 COVID-19 patients recently admitted to hospitals, 97% were not fully vaccinated.
The HICT continues to closely monitor government guidance and public statistics, refining safety protocols to address the changing health environment.
Response Rate to Confidential Vaccine Declaration at 97% Across Entire University
- 99.6% of full-time faculty have declared their vaccination status.
- 97.3% of staff and administrators have declared their vaccination status.
- 97.3% of current and incoming students have declared their vaccination status.
- 93.6% of adjunct faculty who have fall 2021 semester assignments have declared their vaccination status.
University Vaccination Levels Exceed Revised State of New Jersey Goal Levels
Through the Confidential Vaccine Declaration (CVD), current Seton Hall data are indicating that fall 2021 vaccination rates remain near 86% for students (92.6% of those are fully vaccinated), 91% for staff and administrators (97.3% of those are fully vaccinated), 95% for faculty (99% of those are fully vaccinated), and 89.2% for adjunct faculty (96.3% of those are fully vaccinated). These percentages are well above the NJ and national rates.
We repeat what we have said before: There are numerous benefits to getting vaccinated. Vaccines are free, widely available, and effective. Additionally, vaccinated individuals appear to have an extremely low probability of becoming seriously ill or worse.
Follow Up to Non-Responders and Those Who Declared an Exemption
The Confidential Vaccine Declaration is confidential but not anonymous, and we are following up with those who have not completed their Declaration to remind them to complete this required health and safety protocol. Individuals who do not complete the Declaration will be blocked from PirateNet, email, and related access and unable to complete their tasks.
Last Friday, individuals declaring an exemption were prompted to specify which exemption they are claiming: (1) religious beliefs, (2) a pre-existing health condition or (3) for personal reasons while the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized on an emergency-use basis.
Sixty-two percent of those originally declaring an exemption have responded. Of those, 27% have declared they are now vaccinated or planning to be vaccinated, 34% have declared a personal exemption, 29% have declared a religious exemption, and 10% have declared a medical exemption.
Sources indicate that at least one COVID-19 vaccine will receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this fall. Upon full approval, individuals declaring an exemption for personal reasons will be expected to achieve full vaccination status within 40 days after any vaccine’s full approval by the FDA.
We continue to follow up with those who have not responded.
Independent Study Confirms Declaration Data Highly Reliable
As reported in last week’s HICT message an independent study of the Confidential Vaccine Declaration data confirmed that at least 95% of students accurately declared they are vaccinated. The data continues to be monitored for validity and in compliance with local, State and Federal guidance. Thank you for doing your part to keep our community safe and healthy.
Updated, Interim Guidance Released by the NJ Department of Health
The NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) recently released interim guidance for local health departments for institutions of higher education (IHE). The NJDOH defines a “fully vaccinated campus” as IHEs where all students, faculty, and staff have completed their vaccination series to protect against COVID-19 prior to returning to campus except those people who are unable to get the COVID-19 vaccine due to medical or other reasons.
Aided by your compliance with the requirements of the Confidential Vaccine Declaration, we continue to implement numerous health and safety protocols that align with or exceed the guidelines for a fully vaccinated campus, including:
- Implementing an indoor mask requirement.
- Plastic shields remain in place in the classrooms for faculty to use at their discretion.
- The Facilities team will continue its work, as it did last summer as well, to optimize an increase in outside airflow, intake, and circulation in buildings, and refit ventilation systems to higher grade filters wherever possible.
- A substantial amount of testing and PPE supplies have been secured and we continue to work with our COVID-19 testing partners. Members of our community with exemptions are subject to mandatory testing and expanded surveillance testing protocols.
- The University continues to conduct comprehensive contact tracing in coordination with local health officials. Contacts will need to provide additional verification of vaccination. Per the CDC, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms, but they will need to get tested 3-5 days after exposure. Unvaccinated close contacts will be required to quarantine and subject to additional testing. It's another reason to get vaccinated.
- Housing and Residence Life has identified and prepared quarantine and isolation space, consistent with CDC and State of New Jersey guidance.
- The Provost is working with the Deans and faculty to update and prepare instructional pivot plans should the need arise.
- Signage throughout campus is being regularly updated to reflect the latest health and safety protocols.
- Outdoor dining options have expanded through the placement of additional tables on the South Orange campus, along with a large tent which may be reserved through the 25Live scheduling system.
- We regularly update information on COVID-19 cases through the University dashboard on the web site and this weekly communication.
- Students: remember that Health Services offers a wide array of testing and other health and safety services. They are here to help you. Students may request to be tested as frequently as once per week.
- We will once again offer on-campus flu vaccination clinics. We are working with potential healthcare partners to again provide on-campus COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Indoor Mask Requirement
All individuals (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are required to wear a mask at all indoor, nonresidential, on-campus University settings, except when alone or dining.
For any indoor, on-campus gatherings where food and drink is served, we will provide “grab and go,” outdoor seating, and other alternative options whenever possible.
Recent Public Health Developments
- U.S. Health Officials Announce Plans for Booster Shots This Fall
- Track COVID-19 in New Jersey: Maps, graphics, regular updates
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People
- Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People
August 26 Move In
We eagerly anticipate the arrival of most resident students on August 26. We remind students and families to check their email for important Move In protocols.
Copying and Uploading Vaccine Information
All members of the community should carry their vaccination card and/or take a picture of it with their mobile phone.
Students should upload their vaccination cards on the student Health Portal.
New Jersey residents can download and use the State-supported Docket app which provides digital access to COVID-19 immunization records. It is primarily for those who received their doses in New Jersey, but the State is working with other jurisdictions to expand its access to include those vaccinated elsewhere.
Remaining Vigilant and Prepared
While we do not know what circumstances the virus will throw at us next, we remain prepared. Our environmental health and safety protocols – created in consultation with numerous health and higher education experts – enables us to adapt to the rapidly changing situation. We remain in contact with local, state, and national health officials.
Your health and safety remain paramount in Seton Hall’s planning and actions. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the HICT here.
Vice President of University Relations
Co-chair, Health Intervention and Communication Team
Monica N. Burnette, Ph.D.
Interim Vice President, Division of Student Services
Co-chair, Health Intervention and Communication Team
Categories: Campus Life