Montclair State University has updated its vaccine requirement for employees, now requiring that all new full-time, part-time and temporary employees receive a complete coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination.
By Sept. 10 at 5 p.m., all campus employees are required to complete an initial submission, whether partially-vaccinated, fully-vaccinated or unvaccinated, to Vax Check, which is a reporting mechanism created by the university where employees can submit their vaccination status. The portal also allows employees to request medical or religious exemptions.
According to Andrew Mees, Montclair State’s media relations director, more vaccinated individuals are a step toward a return to normalcy for the campus community.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 is an important strategy for keeping our campus community safe and providing our students with a vibrant in-person educational experience,” Mees said.
As for why the university waited to mandate vaccines for its employees after announcing on April 22 that it would be required for students to return to campus this fall, Mees said the school followed the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the guidance of state officials.
“Initially, the State of New Jersey took the position of strongly encouraging, but not requiring, state employees to get vaccinated,” Mees said. “On Aug. 23, Gov. [Phil] Murphy announced a mandate for state workers to be vaccinated or get regularly tested.”
According to Montclair State’s website, managers and temporary employees must submit proof of complete vaccination or a receipt of the first dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson no later than Friday, Oct. 1 and the second dose no later than Nov. 1.
Managers and temporary employees who do not submit proof of complete vaccination, a receipt of the first dose or an approved religious or medical exemption by Oct. 1 will receive a written warning from human resources stating that the university does not have record that they are fully vaccinated.
Should the employee not submit proof after two business days, they will be placed on a five-day unpaid leave of absence beginning Monday, Oct. 6. Once the vaccination status is updated in Vax Check and approved, the employee will return to pay status the next business day.
The policy further states that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Unit 1904, which consists of faculty, librarians and professional staff, must report that they are completely vaccinated by Dec. 15.
If anyone in AFT Unit 1904 has not submitted their complete vaccine documentation by Dec. 15, they will be given five business days to submit it. If they fail to comply with the extended deadline, they will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence until proof is submitted and approved. Medical and religious exemptions must be submitted and approved by Oct. 1.
Rich Wolfson, the president of the AFT Local 1904, said they worked closely with the university during the process of vaccine negotiations.
“Local 1904 worked closely with the administration negotiating the impacts of the university policy on our members and hopes that everyone who is eligible is vaccinated,” Wolfson said. “And those with waivers or for whatever reason cannot be vaccinated, are subject to a stringent testing regimen until this pandemic is behind us.”
New hires must be vaccinated upon hiring.
According to Mees, 67% of Montclair State employees have voluntarily submitted their proof of vaccination to Vax Check as of Sept. 7.