At least five U.S. colleges and universities have announced plans to require students be fully vaccinated before returning to campuses in the fall.
Students who attend Cornell University, Rutgers University, Fort Lewis College, Nova Southeastern University and St. Edward’s University will have to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall, with limited exemptions for underlying medical conditions and religious beliefs.
“A broadly vaccinated student body provides our best hope for returning to the hands-on, inclusive, experiential, and personalized learning environment that we have all come to love,” Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus wrote in a letter to the college community.
“As such, all students enrolling at FLC for the Fall 2021 semester will be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” Stritikus added.
In a letter to the Cornell community, President Martha E. Pollack wrote that the university “intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall semester.”
Pollack wrote that the decision was made after “recent announcements of expanded vaccine eligibility in New York and other states, and increasing vaccine production,” making it “likely” that members of the community will be able to receive a vaccine in the spring or summer.
Pollack added that individuals who are not able to be inoculated prior to their arrival for the fall semester, or whose vaccination is not recognized by New York State, “will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible, and Cornell is investigating ways to facilitate this process.”
Leaders at Rutgers University wrote in a letter to their community last month that "the anticipated additional availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is enabling Rutgers to take steps to protect the health of our academic community and to move toward a full return to our pre-pandemic normal as a vibrant institution in Fall 2021.”
Nova Southeastern University released a statement on Friday announcing its intention to resume “full, in-person classroom learning for on-ground courses” in the fall semester, and its requirement for students, faculty and staff returning to campuses to be fully vaccinated.
On March 29, the COVID-19 Steering Team at St. Edward’s University announced that the university will be requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees and on-campus students 16 years or older, effective Sep. 1.
The announcements from a number of universities come as data shows college students are a significant spreader of the virus. According to The New York Times, more than 120,000 cases of the coronavirus have been linked to American colleges and universities since Jan. 1 and more than 530,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some universities, however, are not yet mandating vaccine requirements, but instead are trying to incentivize students to be inoculated. Dickinson State University, for example, said students who show proof of a complete vaccination series can be exempt from the current campus-wide mask mandate.