Seton Hall will require masks in all indoor settings on its campuses for “at least the next two weeks,” according to an email sent by the Health Intervention Communication Team (HICT) on Friday morning.
The email cited increasing cases of the delta variant as the reason for the mandate, which will go into effect Aug. 2 and continue until Aug. 13 or later.
“All individuals (vaccinated and unvaccinated) are required to wear a mask at all indoor nonresidential, on-campus University settings, except when alone,” the email said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended last week that people in counties seeing significant increases in delta variant cases of COVID-19 resume wearing masks indoors.
Essex county, where Seton Hall is located, is currently rated by the CDC as having “substantial” transmission, with only 51.7% of the county’s population fully vaccinated.
A Setonian poll in April found that a majority of Seton Hall students had received their first dose of the vaccine, with about 12% of respondents saying they would probably or definitely not get the vaccine.
The same poll showed that a majority of students supported a vaccine mandate for the fall semester, which the University has since implemented. The mandate, however, allows students to opt-out of getting the vaccine for personal reasons. It is not clear what reasons will be accepted as valid, but HICT’s confidential vaccine declaration found in May that 12.1% of over 13,000 respondents would seek an exemption.
As of July 26, HICT said, 85% of students had reported that they were vaccinated.
The Seton Hall advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has called for a stricter vaccine mandate.
On July 24, Andy Slavitt, a former senior advisor to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator, tweeted, “your employer, college, school, or favorite venue can and should require vaccinations as a condition of entry.”
The Seton Hall AAUP quoted Slavitt’s tweet, saying, “Hey @SetonHall [sic] what about it?”
“‘Honor code’ policies won’t cut it,” the SHU AAUP said in the tweet. “Time to get serious about the fall semester and take steps to prevent a fall campus surge.”
The SHU AAUP then pointed towards Georgetown University’s vaccination policy, which requires everyone returning to campus to be vaccinated, or face being placed on leave of absence. Georgetown community members who do not seek a medical or religious exemption will be required to upload proof of vaccination. This information can be provided voluntarily at Seton Hall.
The HICT, however, said Seton Hall’s mandate is among the strictest in the nation.
“Seton Hall is among the 5% of colleges in the nation with such a comprehensive vaccination requirement,” Friday’s email said.
Daniel O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @itsDanOConnor.