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August 16, 2022

Rutgers Community Members:

As we return for the fall semester and a full repopulation of our campuses, we continue to monitor the effects of the COVID-19 and the monkeypox viruses. Each is different and unique, but both have tremendous potential to affect the health and well-being of our community.

With respect to COVID-19, the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron continues to spread throughout our population in New Jersey and across the country. The good news is that the spread does not correlate to hospitalizations, intensive care unit beds, or deaths. In fact, the increased hospitalizations being reported are primarily hospitalizations with COVID-19, rather than hospitalizations for COVID-19. At Rutgers, we attribute that to the communitywide mitigation efforts we put in place over the last two years, including, but not limited to, mandatory vaccination, testing, quarantine, and contact tracing.

Please review the following information about COVID-19 and monkeypox as you prepare for the new semester.

COVID-19 Protocols

It is clear that the COVID-19 virus, in some form, is now a permanent part of our daily lives. As the virus moves from pandemic to endemic, Rutgers continues to maintain its COVID-19 safety protocols on face coverings, vaccines and boosters, testing, and quarantining and isolation. As a reminder, I would direct you to the following protocols in particular:

Face coverings: Face coverings are required in all indoor teaching spaces, libraries, and clinical settings. Compliance is mandatory.

Vaccines and boosters: All students and employees are required to be fully vaccinated, obtain a booster when eligible, and upload records to the university vaccine portal.

Events: All indoor events require attendees to show proof of full vaccination or a COVID-19 negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to the event. Face coverings are no longer required at events. There are no restrictions imposed on outdoor events.

Vaccine requirements for contractors, volunteers, and others: Please review the current university policy that addresses vaccination requirements for volunteers, contractors, guest lecturers, and others. The FAQ about the policy is also helpful.

Monkeypox

The monkeypox virus is a significant new public health concern in the U.S. that should be taken seriously. It is very different from COVID-19. Unlike COVID-19, which is very contagious and is spread primarily via a respiratory route, monkeypox is much less contagious and is typically spread through close skin-to-skin contact with an infected person and not by casual exposure.

Commercial testing for those presenting symptoms and antiviral treatments are already available. Additionally, there is a safe and effective monkeypox vaccine, which can be given even in the first few days after exposure. However, both antiviral treatments and vaccine are still in short supply. Individuals should contact and consult with their physicians if they suspect that they may have contracted or been exposed to monkeypox. The university does not have access to monkeypox vaccine and will not be offering treatment.

Further information can be found in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom’s Monkeypox Advisory.

The university will continue to monitor both viruses and will update these important protocols throughout the fall semester.

Wishing you a very successful and safe semester.

Antonio M. Calcado
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer