DENVER — Across the country, a growing number of colleges are making it mandatory for students and staff to be fully vaccinated by the fall semester. Many colleges are saying this can help higher education get back on track.
“This past year, it wasn’t an optimal decision for students or staff for the remote learning,” said Ken McConnellogue, the vice president for communication at the University of Colorado. “We are now working towards operating at normal capacity in the fall. That’s what our staff and students want.”
McConnellogue said that the University of Colorado, a public University, will require its students to be fully vaccinated to go back to in-person learning on campus.
“We are working towards full vaccinations as one of the strategies we need to put in place before fall,” McConnellogue said. “However, just as with our measles and mumps immunization policies we are allowing our students to opt out for medical and religious reasons. There are schools around the country who were out ahead of us on this, but we didn’t so much take our lead from them as much as the state health department and local health department. Plus, we are a research institution with an academic medical campus, and we have substantial expertise in that as well. We feel like we made a very well-informed decision.”
Colleges from California to New York are now moving toward mandating students and staff to be fully vaccinated by the fall semester as well.
However, for some private colleges, like the University of Denver, that offer more flexibility for their requirements.
“As a private school, as long as we are clear about our requirements, we have the flexibility to implement them,” said Sara Watamura with DU. “For example, in the fall we required the flu vaccine and that was not something the state schools felt they were able to do in the timeline they had.”
Watamura said that DU has even been providing vaccines for their students.
“We have provided the opportunity for almost 30,000 vaccinations on campus for DU students and faculty as well as the broader community,” Watamura said.
All 50 states have at least some vaccine mandates for students attending public schools, such as polio, tetanus and whooping cough.
Of course, not all colleges and universities will require a vaccine. But for those colleges that are requiring them, experts believe this could be the key to getting campus life back to normal.