Rider hesitant to mandate vaccine after Rutgers faces legal pushback

By Austin Ferguson and Stephen Neukam

Rider does not plan to mandate that students, staff and faculty receive the COVID-19 vaccine to be on campus next fall, said school administrators, a week after Rutgers University announced its plan to require shots for its community.

The Rutgers decision was met with criticism from various angles, the consequence of being one of the first universities to decide on vaccine enforcement. The move has faced political scrutiny so far, with a state GOP lawmaker planning to introduce a bill to prevent Rutgers’ plan. Gov. Phil Murphy signaled support for the school’s initiative.

Rider Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Planning and Secretary to the Board Debbie Stasolla said that it was unlikely that the university would change course in the future but said she was watching the Rutgers case closely.

“It’s unlikely that we would mandate the vaccine,” said Stasolla. “I’ll be curious to see what happens with the Rutgers case because I think there are some questions about whether or not you can mandate it when it is still under emergency authorization use.”

However, Stasolla admitted that the school’s stance might change and that the administration would “like to wait and see.”

As vaccine availability continues to open to more groups in the state of New Jersey, Rider’s COVID-19 positive cases, quarantine and isolation numbers all declined in the week from March 22 to 28 after multiple weeks of new semester-highs in those categories, the university’s online dashboard reported on March 30.

Before March 28, the university reported a new semester-high in single-week positive cases in three of the four previous weeks, reporting 17, 19 and 21 new cases in weeks from Feb. 22 to March 21. As of March 30,

Rider reported 17 positive COVID-19 cases from March 22 to 28 and one positive case between March 29 and 30.

The university reported a new semester-high in quarantined students,with 41 students in quarantine on March 28. Of the 41 students quarantined, 29 were doing so off campus, according to the university’s dashboard.

The new high in quarantine numbers was an increase from 29 quarantined students the prior week, though numbers decreased to 33 as of March 30.

Stasolla said the decline in positive COVID-19 cases coupled with increases in quarantine numbers pointed toward “continuing to identify close contacts of positive cases.”

According to Rider’s dashboard, isolation numbers decreased from 16 students to 12 students as of March 30. The semester’s highest isolation numbers occurred when 23 students were in isolation on March 19.

Between March 29 and March 30, no employees have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine, while two employees are in isolation as of March 30, the university’s dashboard reported.

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