On Aug. 4, an email was sent by NJIT’s Department of Residence Life to students planning to live on campus during the fall semester, informing them of changes to the guest policy. However, on Aug. 16, a follow-up email was sent informing students that “based on current recommendations from the CDC,” the guest policy had been updated.
The policy change described in the email outright disallowed non-resident visitors from entering the residence halls, superseding the previous policy which allowed visitation by commuter students. According to Karen Quackenbush, Director of Residence Life, this change was made in conjunction with NJIT’s Pandemic Recovery Steering Committee, a group of administrators and officials responsible for guiding campus policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quackenbush stated that the committee made the recommendation to change the guest policy based on guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That guidance, outlined in their document “Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs),” recommends that for institutes of higher education where not all students are vaccinated, “building access by non-residents” should be limited and that “groups of dorm rooms” should be established for non-vaccinated students to “minimize transmission” of COVID-19 and to “facilitate contact tracing.”
On Aug. 16, Dr. Joel S. Bloom, President of NJIT, announced that one measure the university was taking was to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated exempt students within the residence halls. This would be in accordance with the aforementioned guidelines by the CDC. In the same announcement, it was noted that 89% of NJIT students had been fully vaccinated, with 92% of students having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. At the time of publication of this piece, updated numbers had not been released.
Per NJIT’s policy on vaccination, students with “valid medical reasons” or “established and sincerely held religious beliefs” were eligible to receive an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccination requirements set forth by NJIT in April. Additionally, incoming international students were granted a temporary exemption from the vaccination requirements in order to facilitate the receipt of vaccinations within the United States. All NJIT students, regardless of vaccination status, are expected to wear masks indoors in public spaces.
Regarding the recent changes in policy, Quackenbush noted that Residence Life and the Steering Committee would continue to evaluate the policies and make changes where appropriate or necessary. “Our first priority for all students on campus is health and safety. We’re going to do what we can to make sure everybody’s healthy and safe.”