Recently, the role of government in public health has increasingly become one of the country’s most polarizing issues. Nowhere is this debate more evident than in our nation’s schools, where tens of millions of students, spend their days in close contact with one another. This could potentially lead to an explosion in cases. School districts and universities have implemented mask and vaccine mandates.
Here at Rowan University, which has the third-highest number of enrolled students in the state, the administration has instituted a policy mandating masks in classrooms and other indoor spaces. More controversially, Rowan has also enacted a vaccine mandate, requiring students to get vaccinated or face expulsion from the university.
Vaccine mandates are nothing new. Rowan students are already required to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Meningitis. In every state, a polio vaccine is required for children to attend public schools.
Some students are hesitant to receive the vaccine and claim that it has been developed too quickly and that not enough research or testing has occurred.
“Scientists have been working for many years to develop vaccines against coronaviruses, such as those that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS),” the CDC said in a post detailing the vaccine development process. “Past research on coronavirus vaccines [have] helped speed up the initial development of the current COVID-19 vaccines.”
Political figures from both sides have been extremely outspoken about vaccine requirements.
Last month, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought by opponents of Indiana University’s vaccine mandate. This established a legal precedent which allows other universities to require the COVID-19 vaccine as well.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy and his administration have been proactive in their fight to restore the community since the pandemic.
“As the fall semester gets underway, the state will continue to work in close partnership with institutional leaders as we continue to navigate this evolving pandemic,” Christine Lee, the deputy press secretary for the governor, said in an email. “Institutional plans must continue balancing the public health and safety of campus communities, including students, faculty, and staff, with being responsive to changes in public health guidance or mandates.”
This was clearly evident when Rowan adjusted its university-wide mask mandate from only two weeks long, at the beginning of the school year, to running for the entire month of September due to the increased prevalence of the more transmissible Delta variant.
The Murphy administration has begun to issue vaccination mandates for a number of important industries, such as child care, health care and K-12 public schools. Along with this, Lee detailed how the administration supports universities instituting mask and vaccine mandates for students and faculty.
“In conjunction with the guidance for institutions of higher education from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education provided updated COVID-19 recommendations and best practices for higher education institutions, which includes mask and vaccine mandates.”
The New Jersey Republican State Committee and Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for Governor, were not available for comment.
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