TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer is calling on Rutgers University officials to revise its fall Covid-19 masking and testing requirements to align with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that relaxes or eliminates many of those rules. The state’s flagship university will continue to mandate testing for unvaccinated staff and students and require masks in classrooms and other indoor settings.
“It’s embarrassing that our state university, which operates a respected medical school, can be controlled by such an uneducated agenda. It seems like they are bending to the wishes of one particular group, despite the science,” Sawyer (R-Gloucester) said. “The CDC says discriminating between the vaccinated and unvaccinated is illogical because of breakthrough infections and the high level of Covid immunity acquired from past infections, but Rutgers is doubling down and continues to fly in the face of common sense and our new reality.”
This fall, Rutgers University is requiring face coverings in all indoor teaching spaces, libraries, and clinical settings, but not at indoor or outdoor events. However, attendees at indoor events must show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours. Additionally, all students and employees are required to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing if they received a medical or religious exemption.
Meanwhile, the CDC’s updated guidelines, which estimates around 95% of the population has some protection against Covid-19, removes routine testing in lower risk settings like schools. They also lift the requirement to quarantine if exposed to the virus, even if you are unvaccinated. The emphasis is on an individual’s personal decision regarding their level of risk and how they want to mitigate that risk. If you are exposed or infected with Covid-19, then the CDC recommends you wear a mask, but it is unnecessary in otherwise healthy individuals.
“Subjecting healthy people to mandatory testing and masking only hinders learning and adds an unnecessary barrier to accessing higher education,” Sawyer argued. “Even double-masked Governor Phil Murphy was forced to abandon Covid-19 testing and face coverings in schools.”
On Aug. 15, Gov. Murphy lifted routine testing for teachers, school staff and state workers following the updated CDC guidance. The Murphy administration’s mask mandate for all students, teachers, and school staff expired on March 7, about a week after the CDC removed its indoor masking recommendation.
“I want our taxpayer-supported postsecondary institutions to be open, accessible and encourage achievement for all students, no matter their medical history,” Sawyer added. “But, that’s simply not possible when a school discriminates based on vaccination status and it’s proven that masking can hurt one’s ability to successfully and fully participate in school.”