Policies and protocols for unvaccinated students on campus this fall seem to be muddled and inconsistent, according to interviews and a review of official campus documents.
About 50 students have been given religious and medical exemptions. According to The Interim Immunization Requirement document issued on July 27 by Erin McCann, Vice President of Student Life and Development; Travis Whisler, Dean of Students and Anna Stacey, RN, Director of Health Services, unvaccinated students are only permitted to attend classes and cannot live on campus; attendance at other on-campus activities including events and athletic games is prohibited.
But some students who weren’t fully vaccinated were allowed to enter events, most recently the Michaelmas Convocation on Sept. 29. where there didn’t appear to be an attempt to distinguish which students were vaccinated and which weren’t.
According to McCann, the Michaelmas Convocation, an event without screening, was organized by the Office of the Provost, which does not fall under the Dean’s Office. However, the rest of the university administration promotes these events as well, creating confusion about which events students are allowed to attend and not attend.
The same university-issued document stated that students need to have undergone a “complete series” of COVID immunizations before being allowed to come to campus, but according to interviews, students have been attending classes having received only a single shot.
“I was required just to get my first dose at least, to be able to come on campus,” said Oswaldo Sanchez, a junior at Saint Peter’s University. “The school let me get my second dose while attending in-person classes.”
Five students, who spoke directly to university officials, stated that the instructions they received were different from what is stated in the Interim Immunization Requirement document.
Senior Conor Farley said “It was made clear to me that with at least the first shot I would be able to come to [in-person] classes.”
“As of right now, the only students that should be on campus are students that either have one dose or are fully vaccinated or students that have approved medical [or] religious exemptions,” said McCann.
However, the policy in the email sent by the Office of the President on May 11 states that a complete series of COVID vaccinations are required. This has created confusion amongst the community.
“I was genuinely surprised,” said Joey Caruso, a senior.. “It seemed like there [were] not going to be any unvaccinated people on campus. There was definitely some sort of miscommunication that still seems like it needs to be resolved.”
Based on the policy, unvaccinated students were given the option to attend in-person classes or be accommodated in order to take them online.
“No vaccination is required if the exemption form is approved,” said Brittney Maria, a senior with an approved religious exemption.
There does not seem to be a standardized protocol at campus events to distinguish between vaccinated or unvaccinated members of the community in-accordance with the university’s own policy.
According to the document, the interim policy is subject to change based on factors such as the progress of the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance from governmental authorities.