UPDATED APRIL 15
As spring term proceeds, colleges and universities are planning for this upcoming fall semester.
There is a lot going on in this complex process, especially as pandemic conditions change. I have posted about one scenario already, plus a glimpse of all of 2021 from way back in 2020, and there are more posts to come. Today I just wanted to focus on one particular detail, and I’ll phrase it as a question:
How many colleges and universities will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff to return to campus?
Such a requirement makes sense on the face of it. The leading vaccines do a great job of blocking COVID spread. There are growing stocks of vaccines, multiple brands of the stuff, and also a burgeoning system of vaccination sites across the nation. If a college or university wants to return to in-person education, mandating vaccines feels like an intuitive choice.
Some institutions are already doing so. Here’s my current list of campuses requiring vaccinations:
- American University
- Boston University
- Brown University
- Cleveland State University
- Cornell University
- Dartmouth College
- Duke University
- Fort Lewis College
- Georgetown University
- Grinnell College
- Harvey Mudd College
- Ithaca College (“the college plans to require all students who are attending this fall to be vaccinated”)
- Lasell University
- Manhattanville College
- Northeastern University
- Nova Southeastern University
- Oakland University
- Paul Quinn College
- Roger Williams University
- Rutgers University
- St. Edward’s University
- Syracuse University (starting in summer, not fall)
- University of Notre Dame
- Wesleyan University
Are there others? I can keep a list if it’s useful.
Why wouldn’t a campus require vaccines? For example, a group of Idaho colleges and universities decided not to.
One reason is if leadership thinks it’s redundant. The SUNY system Chancellor Jim Malatras stated that those 64 institutions will not require vaccination, because people will do it on their own:
“The way we’re approaching this is it’s going to be voluntary. As we’ve been opening up and getting more folks eligible, we’ve been pushing very hard to get all of our faculty, our staff, and our students eligible vaccinated. People are getting vaccinated. They don’t need to be mandated. They’re doing it because they want to turn the page on COVID…”
Texans shouldn't be required to show proof of vaccination & reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives.
I issued an Executive Order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas.
Don't tread on our personal freedoms. pic.twitter.com/weTbz4FKyH
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 6, 2021
A third reason to avoid mandating jabs is that it’s harder to require medicines that are only FDA approved for emergency purposes.
I have some other questions, like: will these campuses enforce perimeter checks? What will they accept as proof of vaccination (the card, or a physical copy thereof, or a photo)? How many people opposed to public health measures will claim a religious exception? Will some campuses mandate vaccination for students, but not faculty or staff?
More to come. As ever, happy to hear your thoughts in comments below.