While most of New Jersey's public and private four-year colleges and universities imposed COVID vaccine mandates on students to begin the current school year, most of our state's community colleges did not.

That will change for most students in the new year.

Mercer County Community College is the latest community college to announce a vaccine requirement for all students attending any in-person classes.

In an email, college president Jianping Wang announced all students must either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Jan. 3 or show proof of a negative test to attend in-person or hybrid classes, or participate in athletics, theater or other in-person activities. Testing would be done weekly.

Students who are enrolled in fully-remote classes are not subject to the vaccine mandate.

MCCC says masks will be required at all times on campus regardless of vaccination status.

Vaccinations have been proven to be safe and effective at preventing infection, serious illness or death from COVID-19. They remain the best method of stemming the spread of the virus and allowing us all to return to normal activities such as attending classes in person. - Dr. Jianping Wang, President

Wang says, "These requirements were developed in consultation with faculty, staff and students, who debated over several months with guidance from the CDC in mind."

Ocean County College, Brookdale College and Middlesex College announced earlier in the fall they will also require students to be vaccinated for the spring semester as soon as Jan. 3.

The notification from Middlesex College also came with a warning: "Students who provide falsified documentation to establish compliance with the vaccine mandate, including falsified support for exemption requests, will be subject to penalties under the College’s Code of Student Conduct, up to and including suspension from the College for the remainder of the academic year and subsequent semesters."

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