With vaccines become available to virtually all New Yorkers this Tuesday, April 6, some colleges are making it a requirement before students return to campus.
Last week New Jersey’s Rutgers University announced that students would be required to have vaccinations before returning to campus this fall, and now Cornell University (located in Ithaca in upstate New York) is doing the same.
In a statement released on Friday, April 2, Cornell President Martha E. Pollack and Provost Michael I. Kotlikoff wrote:
With the recent announcements of expanded vaccine eligibility in New York and other states, and increasing vaccine production, it is likely that all members of our community will be able to obtain vaccination sometime this spring or summer. Accordingly, Cornell intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall semester.
They do note that they will accommodate “medical and religious exemptions,” but expect the vast majority of people on campus to be vaccinated once classes begin. If students and staff are unable to do so from New York State, they will expect them to do so as soon as possible after arriving, and are looking into the possibility of having them available on campus.
Furthermore, students, faculty and staff will actually have to register their vaccination status using the college’s COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination tool.
Though NYS and CDC guidelines on college campuses haven’t been updated as of yet, they said that if they reach a “herd immunity” on campus as predicted by requiring (mostly) everyone to be vaccinated, “classes normally taught in person will return to that mode of instruction, without any routinely scheduled online option.” If they don’t reach full herd immunity, but at least over half the community is vaccinated, they will also continue regular in-person classes, just with enhanced safety measures like mandatory mask wearing, etc. In their last predicted scenario, if less than half the campus population is vaccinated, they will “begin the semester in de-densified classrooms, with a mix of instruction modes similar to the current semester, until critical thresholds have been met.”
As of now, prominent NYC colleges do not seem to making this same requirement. For example, NYU had already reopened much of its campus, keeping a careful eye on COVID-19 updates and making safety changes as necessary, and Columbia University has conducted similarly.
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