For many students returning this fall, it will be their first time on campus since March of 2020. Stockton University’s decision to implement mandatory vaccines has caused a stir on campus. In addition, the university has rolled out predominantly face-to-face courses as well full capacity settings. For students who are unvaccinated, coming to campus means reporting to a COVID-19 screening twice a week while unvaccinated faculty will be required to report daily.
Alex Rivera, a Junior Sociology Major, skipped the 2020 Fall semester after struggling to adapt to online learning. Rivera believes vaccines shouldn’t be mandatory but those who are unvaccinated should have consideration for those around them.
“I understand that everybody may not be ready to be vaccinated,” said Rivera. “People should be allowed to be in control of what goes in their own body. At the same time if you are unvaccinated you should continue to wear a mask.” Rivera expressed his anticipation for the return of in-person learning. “I chose some really great classes. I can’t wait to see my favorite professor again.”
Alec Christenson, a junior Marine Science major, was waiting for the vaccine to be FDA approved but caught COVID-19 unexpectedly over the summer. “I’m allergic to most foods so I have to be cautious about what I put into my body, especially because I am also taking a cocktail of medications on top of that,” explained Christenson.
As the university sent emails out regarding proof of vaccination, Christenson became anxious about not receiving his jab on time. Now that Pfizer is approved by the FDA, Christenson has received his first dose.
“I can’t wait to start all in-person classes and to start my new major!” Christenson added.
Jonathan Franchetti, a senior majoring in Information Technology, expressed his disappointment in Stockton’s decision to mandate masks despite one’s vaccination status.
“If COVID-19 was still such a concern for our community we shouldn’t be packing students and staff into small classrooms even if they are wearing masks,” said Franchetti. With such a vast majority of the Stockton community vaccinated, Franchetti believes that students should be able to learn mask-free this semester.
A handful of students agree that online learning is their last option for an academic experience. Professor and Chair of Africana Studies, Dr. Donnetrice Allison, is looking forward to returning to campus and seeing her students.
“I know some students really need a more hands-on interaction with professors to perform at their best,” said Allison, “I will make sure we are safe and taking every precaution in the classroom”