September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month and in current conversations regarding safety, it is natural for COVID-19 and the vaccine to come up.
As many students return on campus for the upcoming college semester, colleges are considering whether to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Cases are rising in several states and currently over 700 colleges are requiring students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Most colleges already require on-campus students to be vaccinated against viral diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella. Because of this, government agencies are suggesting that colleges may similarly require the COVID-19 vaccine. Medical exemptions are guaranteed by law in all states, but for students who are not exempt colleges must decide if they should be excluded from classes or other campus related activities.
Many institutions are requiring students to be vaccinated. Popular universities such as Princeton, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, and more are requiring students to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in order to register for in-person classes or live in on-campus housing.
Other schools are taking a different approach to incentivize students to be vaccinated. Giving away free college gear, scholarships, or even money, are tactics to increase vaccination rates among the student population. Rowan University is not only mandating the vaccine but also offering monetary incentives up to $1,000 in credit towards tuition and housing.
Some universities are taking more drastic measures. Quinnipiac University in Connecticut has decided to fine non-exempt students who fail to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination and will cut their internet. West Virginia Wesleyan College is also fining students who will not provide proof of vaccination to cover the costs of weekly testing and possible quarantine measures.
College leaders are hoping that students will be incentivized by a return to a normal college experience if they are vaccinated. COVID-19 prevention efforts are costly for colleges and the solution for many is to simply mandate the vaccination for on-campus students.
How can colleges practice campus safety in regards to COVID-19?