July 22, 2021
Dear Georgian Court University Community,
The fall semester is fast approaching, and I am eager to see you back on campus. We are moving full steam ahead with preparations for classes and building improvements along with our ongoing concern for your health and safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic remains with us, and the spread of the virus is as serious as ever. The Delta variant is driving infection, hospitalizations, and increasing mortality rates in recent weeks. These disturbing trends, coupled with an urgent request from the New Jersey Department of Health, prompted university leadership to review and revise the policy on requiring student vaccinations. This is an ongoing public health crisis that requires our vigilance.
Updated Requirements for Fall 2021
To protect the progress we have made to date, and in keeping with guidance from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) and the CDC, we are expanding the COVID-19 vaccination requirement.
Resident students must still be fully vaccinated with vaccination records submitted to the Office of Health Services five days prior to check-in. Resident students who are not fully vaccinated will not be permitted to check-in. Commuter students must be fully vaccinated with vaccination records submitted to Health Services by October 1. Commuter students, both undergraduate and graduate, who do not comply by the October 1, 2021, deadline will be blocked from registering for Spring 2022 classes and will be subject to other sanctions.
Student Health records can be submitted electronically through Pyramed, the student health portal, or students can scan/photograph vaccination records and e-mail them to Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. (*The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two weeks after the final dose of the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, or Moderna vaccines. When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated | CDC.)
For Faculty and Staff
Faculty and staff are also strongly encouraged to be vaccinated by October 1. We still need to do all that we can to make our campus as safe and as healthy as possible. As leaders, we are examining the best ways to do this while balancing our commitment to public health and respect for all individuals in the Georgian Court community. More information for faculty and staff will be shared soon. Faculty and staff are urged to submit their vaccination records to the Office of Human Resources, where they will be kept in confidence. Having the records will help us assess the vaccination level on campus. If vaccination rates lag, a decision on mandating vaccinations will be revisited.
Religious and medical exemptions will still be permitted and will be processed through the Office of Health Services. Students should contact Health Services directly at email@example.com or 732-987-2756 with exemption questions and requests. Employees with exemption questions should contact the Office of Human Resources at 732-987-2215.
Face coverings will remain mandatory in all indoor locations (classrooms, offices, etc.) for the duration of the Fall 2021 semester regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings are not mandated in private offices and the residence halls.
As it has for the past 18 months, the COVID situation remains fluid. We are considering the possibility of going mask-optional after October 1. At the same time, events could always trigger other revisions.
The Continued Fight Against COVID-19
Vaccinations are proving effective at keeping people safe, even as aggressive COVID variants affect those who are not vaccinated. By being vaccinated, we can help protect other people from becoming infected and we can help reduce the chances of variants developing and spreading.
Our decision-making takes many factors into consideration—the expertise of CDC and state public health care professionals, as well as what is happening with other New Jersey colleges and others. For example, our longtime partner Hackensack Meridian Health recently required all employees, vendors, and volunteers to get the vaccine, unless they qualify for an exemption.
For GCU, vaccinations also help us get back to a more normal, in-person experience, including the optional use of face coverings. More than anything, I am eager to see you, our campus community, reconnect with colleagues and friends.
Details for submitting proof of vaccination, COVID-19 testing requirements, noncompliance issues, quarantine policies, and more will be shared via e-mail and on the GCU website (https://georgian.edu/health-services/coronavirus/). Watch your inbox for information from Student Affairs, Human Resources, and other campus offices for continued updates.
Ensuring the health of our campus community is a matter of caring for each other and serving the common good—an extension of who we are as a Catholic institution. Thank you for all you have done to help us get through the pandemic and emerge stronger in 2021. I look forward to our full and safe return to GCU very soon.
Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.