April 8, 2021 coronavirus news

As colleges and universities nationwide make plans to welcome back students in the fall, a growing number have announced they will require all students to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning to campus. So far, at least eight colleges have said the vaccine will be required, and that number is expected to grow.

Two universities, St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and Nova Southeastern University in Broward, Florida, are going a step further, requiring students and all campus employees to be vaccinated, saying they have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for students, faculty, and staff.

“With the extra protection of widespread vaccination, the NSU community will be able to resume more activities and operations sooner, leading to a more engaged educational and professional experience,” said Nova Southeastern University’s announcement on April 1.

Since the announcement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order saying that vaccines are available but not mandated, and prohibited any government entity or business from requiring a vaccine passport.

On Thursday, NSU posted an update that it is now reviewing the executive order and how it relates to its vaccine requirements.

“Additionally, the President’s Office has been hearing from the NSU community in the past few days—some expressing support and others sharing your questions and concerns. All of this is being considered thoughtfully and we will have more details for you by next week,” a statement from the university said.

Universities have been implementing vaccination policies since late March, when Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, became one of the first to say that having all students vaccinated will allow for an “expedited return to pre-pandemic normal,” making more in-person classes possible, as well as more on-campus events that will be allowed.

“This health policy update means that, with limited exceptions, all students planning to attend in the Fall 2021 semester must be fully vaccinated,” a statement from Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said, adding that proof of vaccination will be required.

Rutgers faculty and staff members are also being strongly urged to get vaccinated, but the statement did not say that it was required for them.

Cornell, Brown, Northeastern, and Fort Lewis College in Colorado have made similar announcements, though all will make exceptions for medical or religious reasons.

Cornell anticipates all members of the university community will be vaccinated in the spring or summer. Individuals who are not able to be vaccinated prior to their arrival to campus, “will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible, and Cornell is investigating ways to facilitate this process,” a statement from the university said.

Cornell has also created an online registration COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination tool, so students and staff can register their vaccination status.

Brown University said in its announcement that it plans to return to a schedule of “mostly in-person operations” when the fall semester begins, and will require the Covid-19 vaccine for any student who will be on campus.

“Our plans to loosen current limitations on in-person activities for Fall 2021 are based on achieving a high level of immunity among students and employees who will be on campus,” said University President Christina Paxson in a statement.

Northeastern is also planning to be fully reopened by the fall for all students to return and for all classes to resume in-person.

“We expect to be back fully in-person at regular occupancy, including fully in-person teaching, and normal occupancy in residence halls and dining facilities,” said Ken Henderson, chancellor and senior vice president for Learning at Northeastern. 

Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, was one of the first schools to shut its campus at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last March. It will now require students to enter their proof of vaccination through an online portal.

CNN’s Laura Ly, Rebekah Riess and Alta Spells contributed to this report.

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