Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about returning to campus for the spring semester. More information about each of these topics can be found on the websites hyperlinked below.
COVID-19 Booster Requirement
Q: Am I required to get a COVID-19 booster?
A: All undergraduate students must receive a booster and update their vaccination information in MyUHS by Monday, January 31, or 30 days after they become eligible (see eligibility criteria below). Compliance with the vaccine policy is necessary to maintain prox access to campus facilities and to continue student progress to degree.
Q: When am I eligible for a booster?
A: Individuals are eligible for a booster:
- Five months after the second dose of an mRNA vaccine, including Pfizer and Moderna. Please note that at the time of the vaccine policy update to require boosters, individuals were not eligible until 6 months after the second dose. For the purpose of this policy, until further notice, we are expecting a booster after six months rather than five.
- Two months after the single dose of the J&J Janssen vaccine.
- Students who received a WHO-approved vaccine that is not Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J should follow the CDC guidelines for boosters.
- This timeline is regardless of a recent COVID diagnosis, as a review of scientific evidence indicates there is no reason to delay receiving a booster despite a recent COVID infection. This guidance replaces the previous guidance, in which individuals who tested positive had 90 days to receive their booster dose.
Please note: Anyone eligible for a booster may receive either the Moderna or Pfizer version, regardless of their original COVID-19 vaccine. “Third doses” of the vaccine (i.e. doses received in addition to the primary series but earlier than the booster eligibility) for immunocompromised people will count as a booster for the purpose of this policy.
Q: Why did the University decide to require COVID-19 boosters for all faculty, staff, and students?
A: Information from CDC and other public health resources suggested evidence of waning immunity from the primary COVID-19 vaccines, and indicated that boosters would bolster protection against infection and severe disease. With this in mind, as an extension of the University’s existing COVID-19 vaccination requirement, the University decided to mandate boosters to support continued in-person teaching, research, and campus operations in the spring.
Princeton University is required to follow all NJ Department of Health (NJ DOH) rules for COVID-19. The CDC and the NJ DOH have already created separate rules for individuals who are eligible for a booster and have not received one. Thus, any student or employee who has not received a booster dose (and is eligible for one) must quarantine for five days if they are identified as a close contact with a person who tested positive. In the fall 2021 semester, most students who tested positive identified multiple students as close contacts. A student could easily be identified as a close contact multiple times over the course of a semester, which could be disruptive to their own in-person learning experience.
While most of our students are not at great risk from infection with COVID-19, there are still vulnerable populations at risk at Princeton. The regional healthcare system is also still at risk of being overwhelmed. We cannot consider one subpopulation – healthy, vaccinated students – without taking into consideration other subpopulations. This is the unfortunate reality of a pandemic; no group is an island.
Q: Will the University share a student’s vaccination status with other students or student organizations?
A: Students’ vaccination status will generally not be shared with anyone unless appropriate. University officials determine if there is a compelling reason to do so. Of course, students may choose to share their vaccination status with others as they deem appropriate.
COVID-19 Asymptomatic Testing Program
Q: Will undergraduate students take part in the asymptomatic testing program?
A: Effective March 7, students who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters will be required to test monthly instead of weekly.
Students should follow the testing schedule below, which is based on last names:
- A – E – Test on Week 1 of the month
- F – K – Test on Week 2 of the month
- L – R – Test on Week 3 of the month
- S – Z – Test on Week 4 of the month
Individuals who are not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters must continue to test weekly. Unvaccinated people with accommodations will be required to test weekly. Anyone who elects to be tested weekly may do so.
To avoid delays in receiving test results, undergraduate students are encouraged to submit their tests later in the week (Wednesday, Thursday).
*Students who test positive, either through the asymptomatic testing program or by reporting an off-site positive to UHS, are exempt from the University's testing requirement for 90 days.
Q: Can you describe the process for students who test positive for COVID-19 and the process for students who are exposed to said student?
A: All students who test positive must go into isolation.
- University staff will inform students where they will be assigned to isolate. Students will not be able to isolate in a local hotel.
- All students required to isolate will receive an email with details about how to pick up their meals during isolation.
- In circumstances of a high number of positives, students who do not share a sleeping space may have to isolate in their room rather than moving into isolation housing.
Beginning Friday, January 14, if fully vaccinated, the duration of isolation may be short as 5 days (day 0 is the date the sample was collected).
- Release from isolation will occur on day 6 if the individual is asymptomatic, if symptoms are resolving, and if they are fever-free for at least 24 hours.
- On day 6 through 10, individuals released from isolation:
- Must wear a tight-fitting mask when around other people, including roommates. KN95 masks will be added to student isolation kits for use during days 6 through 10.
- May not dine with others or participate in activities that require masks to be removed. (Masks are not necessary when sleeping, showering, brushing teeth, etc.)
Vaccinated individuals experiencing persistent symptoms or fever will not be released on day 6. UHS will determine the date of release based on their condition. No matter when the individual is released, they must wear a tight-fitting mask when around other people, including roommates, through day 10.
Unvaccinated individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days.
It is each student’s personal responsibility to follow these rules for isolation. All individuals are expected to accurately report symptoms and to wear a mask after being released from isolation. Failure to do so is a serious violation of University policies, including Rights, Rules, Responsibilities Honesty and Cooperation Policy (1.1.5) and Public Health section (1.6.4).
A student in isolation housing will be offered meals three times a day. A designated staff member will regularly interact with students and work with them to meet other types of needs.
UHS contact tracers may work with the student who tests positive to identify individuals with whom they may have had close contact. Close contact means being within six feet for at least 15 minutes cumulative over 24 hours. Students are expected to cooperate fully with contact tracers.
Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated will need to quarantine for 5 days from the date of exposure. Close contacts who are fully vaccinated and boosted but do not test positive will not need to quarantine.
Q: How will COVID monitoring and isolation work for students off campus?
A: Students off campus will have the same testing requirements as students living on campus. Students off campus will need to isolate in their off-campus residence.
For more information about the mandatory asymptomatic testing program, please visit the Taking the Test page.
COVID-19 Policies/Face Coverings
Q: Will social distancing be required on campus?
A: Social distancing is currently not required on campus. Subject to public health guidance, we do not intend to have occupancy limits or requirements for social distancing in classrooms, laboratories, or other University common spaces.
Q: Will the University provide students with face coverings?
A: Yes. Undergraduate and graduate students may receive up to ten KN95 masks at a time, at no charge. Students must show valid student Princeton University ID and may not pick up for more than one person.
Q: Can students host visitors in their dormitory?
A: Effective, March 15, 2022, undergraduate and graduate students who reside in residential dormitories may sponsor visitors, including overnight guests who are up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination (primary and (if eligible) booster), in accordance with Rights, Rules, Responsibilities.
- Guest must be up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccination, with no exceptions.
- Sponsoring student must complete the Student Guest form, including verifying vaccination via attestation.
- Student guest attestation forms are available to Residential College staff and Directors of Student Life, but do not require approval by the College.
Q: Are there any restrictions on personal travel during the semester?
A: Undergraduate students are permitted to travel outside of Mercer County and Plainsboro Township for personal reasons without University approval. If you’ve been denied travel under the old policy, you’re now free to make your plans.
Policies for permissible University-sanctioned travel remain unchanged, but will update on April 4, 2022 to establish more permanent health and safety protocols for University-sanctioned travel. This includes significantly increased opportunities for student travel to some international destinations. Read the Associate Provost's Letter »
Student groups that currently have events planned outside Mercer or Plainsboro should contact their sponsoring office for guidance.
Q: Will students be allowed to travel to conduct approved senior thesis research during the term?
A: Funded senior thesis research and course-related trips are considered University-sponsored travel and may be permissible to certain destinations. For further information on permissible University-sanctioned travel, see the latest guidelines from Global Safety & Security.
For the most up-to-date information regarding dining, including questions about meal plans, please visit the Campus Dining FAQs page
Q: How will student groups be permitted to operate, and will there be any restrictions on their activities?
A: Student groups may function normally but must adhere to all relevant and current campus guidelines. For more information, reach out to Mitchel Charles, ODUS program coordinator, or the administrative office coordinating the activity.
Q: Will in-person musical and dance performances be permitted in Spring semester? Will masks be required for attendees?
A: In-person musical and dance performances will be permitted, and we will welcome audiences back. Members of the public may attend if they attest that they have been vaccinated and to adhere to campus public health requirements, including relevant and current face-covering requirements.
Q: What will athletics look like and how will club and varsity sports treat students from other schools in terms of COVID?
A: Participation in club and varsity sports will be permitted, subject to requirements for face coverings and asymptomatic testing. Student-athletes from other schools will be permitted on campus, following University and Ivy League requirements for testing, travel, face coverings, etc.
Q: Will the eating clubs be open? Will there be any restrictions in their operation?
A: The eating clubs will be open during the spring semester. Eating clubs must abide by the public health practices dictated by the State of New Jersey, and students participating in eating club events must abide by University rules.
Q: What will on-campus jobs look like this semester and when will students be able to apply for them?
A: We expect student employment will be normal and in-person for the spring semester. Some positions are already listed on the portal. The Office of Student Employment can provide additional details about how to apply for jobs and what documentation will be necessary.
Q: What if I have to isolate or quarantine due to COVID and cannot go to class?
A: Students who are required to isolate or quarantine will not be penalized for being absent from the classroom. Students should email their instructor as soon as possible, copying their residential college dean or director of studies, to let them know they are isolating.
Faculty will support students in isolation or quarantine through one or both of the following ways, depending on the size, format, and pedagogical goals of the course:
- Invite a remote student to “attend” via a Zoom link that they activate on their laptop
- Record their lecture or class and post it to Canvas
These arrangements are intended only for students who are required to be in isolation or quarantine due to COVID and should be used for the duration of their absence from class.
Q: How will I complete my work if I am too sick to engage with remote instruction?
A: Students who are too sick to engage with class work remotely during their period of isolation should inform their residential college dean or director studies, who, in keeping with our normal policies, will work with students and faculty to arrange a make-up schedule for classwork and homework assignments.
Q: Will face coverings be required in the classroom this spring?
As of March 14, face coverings are no longer required in classrooms, though faculty and staff as conveners of a class, lab, gathering, or meeting may require participants to wear a mask. See the updated guidance on face coverings.
Q: Can faculty require face coverings in their classroom, regardless of any changes in University policy?
A: Yes. Faculty may implement a face-covering requirement in their classroom that is more restrictive than the current policy, provided it is consistent with the pedagogical goals of the course. Students will be advised that eating in classrooms is prohibited. As always, students with disabilities may request accommodations through the Office of Disability Services, including modifications to University requirements.
Q: What will singing and other music classes look like this semester?
A: Classes involving music and performance will take place as usual, following the policy for face coverings and bell covers for instruments. Please visit the Guidelines for Aerosol-Generating Performing Arts Activities for more information.
Q: What are the grading policies for the spring term?
A: The University will maintain its regular grading policies as set forth in the Undergraduate Announcement.