Rowan University is tightening its student vaccination policy, and eliminating a big exemption.

Rowan is among about a dozen New Jersey colleges and university's that required students to be vaccinated by the start of the Fall semester. They included exemptions for medical and religious reasons, but they also included a "personal choice" exemption.

Following the full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the FDA, Rowan informed students this week that the "personal choice" exemption was being eliminated.

As of today, Aug. 23, Rowan University will no longer accept personal declinations. Students who chose the personal declination option have until Sept. 1 to submit a declination form demonstrating a valid religious or medical exemption or until Sept. 7 to submit proof of their first dose. Students who receive the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines must show proof of their second dose by Oct. 7. - notice posted to

Students now have the option of submitting a valid medical or religious exemption, or getting vaccinated. Students who do not do so, face the risk of being kicked out of the dorms, off campus and possibly de-enrolled.

Dozens of Rowan professors and faculty members had signed a petition asking the school to eliminate the "personal choice" exemption.  They were wary of the prospect of being in classrooms and lecture halls without knowing the vaccine status of students.

Rowan officials have also announced an extension of an incentive program designed to boost the student vaccination rate. Students have until September 1 to prove vaccination status to receive up to a $1000 credit to their account.

At the same time, the University also announced an expanded mask policy. Masks are required for all indoor settings, although small groups of students can meet without a mask if they are all vaccinated. School officials warned students to keep a mask with them at all times. "Please remember, some people might feel uncomfortable being around unmasked individuals," the notice reads, "If you are asked to wear a mask, please do so."

Rowan says they will review infection rates among the student body and the community two weeks into the Fall semester, and may modify the mask mandate.

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