BREAKING: University to require students with on-campus presence to be vaccinated

Requirement includes full-time, part-time, graduate and undergraduate students

BREAKING: University to require students with on-campus presence to be vaccinated
"Syringe and Vaccine" by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

American University will require all students with an on-campus presence to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in the fall 2021 semester, President Sylvia Burwell announced in an email sent to the AU community Wednesday evening. 

An on-campus presence includes students living on campus or those who come to campus for any reason, such as using the library or other campus spaces, according to the University’s website. This also includes students who do not have in-person classes, but who may come to campus for any of the reasons listed. 

“As we thought through this important question, we considered vaccine availability and eligibility, the systems needed to track vaccinations within our community, developments at other higher education institutions, advancing the health and safety of the AU community, and how to address questions of equity, among other variables,” Burwell wrote in her email. 

Faculty and staff are not required to be vaccinated; however, the University is “strongly encouraging” them to do so and will send out further guidance in the coming weeks as to whether they will be required to be vaccinated. 

“AU is currently reviewing the different components involved with potentially requiring vaccines for employees. While students’ vaccinations are addressed under the District of Columbia Immunization Law, there are different regulations and policies involved with employees, and we are currently working through these matters,” Lisa Stark, a University spokesperson wrote in an email to The Eagle.

International students who have not yet received a vaccination in their home country upon their arrival to AU in the fall will be provided with information about how to receive the vaccine once they arrive in the U.S., according to the University. Burwell also acknowledged that some international students may have already received vaccines that aren’t eligible for use in the U.S., and said that the University is “seeking further guidance” to manage the situation, and will communicate directly with those students. 

Students may request an exemption from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for either medical or religious reasons using the University’s existing protocols. According to the protocols, “religious exemption is allowed if the responsible person objects in good faith and in writing that the immunizations violate his/her religious beliefs,” and that “medical exemption is allowed if a physician provides a detailed letter indicating that immunizations are medically inadvisable.”

The University is not currently providing COVID-19 vaccines, but encouraged students to check their state eligibility requirements as more people become eligible. 

“The university will provide information about how to acquire vaccines, including such resources as CDC’s vaccine location webpage, which includes search boxes for state health departments or the national Vaccine Finder website, which will directs [sic] people to vaccine resources in their community.” Stark wrote, “As eligibility and access to vaccines expand, the university will continue to update this information and inform students.”

Those with fall housing assignments will need to show proof of vaccination before their move-in. Although it will not be required for summer 2021 housing at AU, the University is encouraging students to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

In an email on May 5, the University outlined specific instructions for submitting proof of vaccination through the Student Health Portal. Dr. David Reitman, the medical director of AU's Student Health Center, also reminded all members of the AU community — including those who are vaccinated — to continue wearing face coverings indoors and in large outdoor gatherings. 

Georgetown University also announced on Wednesday that it will require vaccines for students who plan to return to campus. 

“This requirement is an important component of our return to campus in the fall. COVID-19 vaccines reduce the spread of the disease and are very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization,” Burwell said.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

nheller@theeagleonline.com 

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