Morgan allows students without a full vaccination on campus

Some students live in residence halls with one dose

Students+in+University+Student+Center+dining.

CharNae Brown

Students in University Student Center dining.

Cayla Cade, Staff Writer

Morgan State University requires all students and staff to be fully vaccinated unless they provided proof of exemption. However, there are some students residing on campus that only fulfilled half of that condition. 

There are a number of students who only have one dose of the vaccination on this campus. “We’ve been flexible with working with students because we want them to get their education and we also have the mask mandate,” said Kevin Banks, vice president for student affairs. 

These one-dosers are required to test twice a week along with the exempt students. This could be from extenuating circumstances or from having to get revaccinated due to improper cards. Regardless, the university continues to push the mask mandate and vaccination agenda. 

“We encourage every student to be vaccinated and we do check on their results through the health department to make sure they’re valid,” said Pia James, residence life administrative assistant.

Morgan accepts AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm, and Sinovac, according to Coronavirus Information & Resources- FAQs

International students may be required to test and quarantine upon arrival to campus if they are vaccinated with an unauthorized vaccine. They may also be re-vaccinated with a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-authorized vaccine. If vaccines were not available in the areas they are coming from, vaccination will be offered upon arrival. 

Associate Medical Director, Patience Ekeocha, explained how staff members such as Judith McLean Perkins review the submissions to make sure they meet the criteria of the vaccinations before approving them.

One way to verify the vaccination cards is through an official record on ImmunNET kept for those who are vaccinated in the state of Maryland. The alternative option is to follow up with CRISP, the State Designated Health Information Exchange (HIE) for Maryland. It is a non-profit organization that enables the electronic transfer of clinical information between different health information systems. 

The health staff members are still verifying vaccinations and exempt forms to allow students the opportunity to come on campus and live in the residence halls. If the vaccination card is legible, it can be verified within two hours. The verification process is still ongoing for graduate and commuter students. 

Despite this, the process is difficult due to various outside factors. Some students will have verification denied due to their card stating they received the second dose a week after receiving the first dose. They will then be flagged for rejection and the individual receives a follow-up call. 

The student is required to go back to their testing site and verify the dates. In the meantime, they also have to get tested twice per week until the correct information is received. 

Exemptions work a bit differently. Dr. Ekeocha explained that there is some leeway in the exemption because there are a few students who cannot tolerate vaccines for medical reasons.

So because of that, we’re not going to force them,” she said. 

Further, students and employees who are not vaccinated must get tested in the Student Center two times a week. If employees are not following the verification or testing protocol, “then there’s a whole HR process that has to take place to follow up with those individuals to ensure their accountability,” said Banks.

Eventually, vaccinated students must also get tested. There was no specified date but testing for vaccinated individuals should be implemented late into the fall semester or the beginning of the spring semester. Those vaccinated should expect to be tested one to two times per month.

But if you are unvaccinated or not exempt, you cannot come onto the premises, according to Dr. Ekeocha.

If a student tests positive, they are put into an isolated space that has been identified in a different building. Since these students are not allowed to go to the dining hall, staff members are assigned to take orders through the BITE app, pick them up, and deliver them. Isolation lasts for 10 days. 

Banks also stated, “If their roommate was vaccinated, then we have them wait three to five days and then get tested.”

The roommate who tested positive is immediately moved into isolation. Banks then works with the Fire, Life, and Environmental Safety Department to sanitize the room while it is vacant. The other roommate(s) must also get tested. If they test negative, they can quarantine in their own room. However, if they come in contact with the positive roommate, they must go into isolation as well. 

Morgan will begin random testing to combat positive COVID-19 cases. They may start with testing 25 students from Cummings Hall or a few faculty members from the Fine Arts department.

“They call it pool testing where you test groups of them. And if you get any positive cases, then you single out the folks that were around that individual and test them as well,” said Banks. 

Regardless if you are vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask at all times. 

To keep students safe and healthy, Morgan has hand sanitizers in each building. Additionally, you will find a barcode to scan when entering buildings such as Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall. And if you are attending events like in the Student Center Ballroom. This is a form of contact tracing. If you were to catch COVID-19, they would have a way to know where you were to inform other people in that area. Housekeepers also come in to clean and sanitize each building regularly.

“We’re trying to become a little more sophisticated in our testing procedures but it takes everybody willing to protect the cave.”