On May 5, 2021, Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman announced that all students would need proof of vaccination or a vetted exemption to attend classes in the fall, but faculty did not.
As of September 2021, 88.16% of students are vaccinated and 11.84% are exempt.
In contrast, 91.75% of faculty are vaccinated, 1.24% are exempt, and the rest are unaccounted for. The gap between the roughly 1% of employees who are exempt versus the estimated 12% of students is notable.
Exemptions fall under two categories: religious and medical. According to Stockton’s COVID-19 Immunization Exemption Request Form, religious exemptions are different from “philosophical, moral or conscientious” exemptions.
Stockton’s Director of News and Media Relations Diane D’Amico could not comment on the exemption gap because of the private nature of religious and medical information.
“Students must submit an official request form to be considered for an exemption. Requests are reviewed for compliance following N.J. guidelines,” D’Amico said.
Additional safety protocols have been implemented for unvaccinated students with exemptions. These include bi-weekly COVID-19 screenings for exempted students on campus Monday through Friday, random testing, and single/private rooms for residential students.
D’Amico emphasized that even with these precautions, the exemption status of students should not impact their campus experience.
“Unvaccinated students should still have the same campus experience as all students. They may use all facilities and attend all events following the precautions in place for all faculty, staff and students.”
D’Amico said that being vaccinated and wearing masks indoors is considered the best preventive measure against COVID-19. However, hand washing, using hand sanitizer, covering one’s mouth or nose when sneezing/coughing, and using disinfectant wipes on frequently touched surfaces are also considered to be important preventive strategies.
If there is one thing D’Amico wants students to know, it is that the protocols are in place to protect everyone involved.
“The protocols in place are designed to protect everyone on campus,” said D’Amico. “Wearing a mask may be inconvenient, but it helps protect the entire campus community and increases the likelihood that we can continue to have a traditional semester of classes, activities and events.”
For updates regarding Stockton’s protocols and COVID-19 data, please visit Stockton’s coronavirus information page on the University’s website.