Why Many Colleges will Require the Covid Vaccine For the Upcoming School Year

Lucas Tessarollo, Writer

Some colleges and universities across the country are announcing that a Covid vaccine will be necessary for students to attend school on their campus for the next school year. These schools include Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, Duke, and more, as other schools are likely to follow suit. These announcements have come in the last few weeks and months as more Covid vaccines are being distributed and the safety of the vaccines has been proven since their release to the public. These schools have made this decision because of the freedom that it could allow on campus and the overall easing of daily life and education which having all students and staff vaccinated would allow. Social life on campus could be restored, in-person classes could be resumed at full capacity, and most importantly this mandate will keep everybody safe. 

Rutgers University was the first school to require having the Covid vaccine for the fall of 2021, and Rutgers’ Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President said, “Mandating that students be fully vaccinated is the best way to return to a true college experience.” Having the “true college experience” is also something that many students have stressed including Stella Tessarollo who is a Freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University(VCU). She said that she thinks the Covid vaccine should be required for in-person students so that campus and classroom life can return to normal and so more personal connections can be built. She also believes that the minimized socialization which has occurred due to Covid, has had negative effects on students, and that allowing more contact and closeness because of the vaccine would benefit students very much and strengthen their mental health. In addition, she noted that the extremely small risk of the Covid vaccine is very worth it and that it will do so much more good than harm for students and staff. 

The University System of Maryland(USM) also announced on April 22 that Covid vaccines will be necessary for all students in the 12 universities that fall under the system which includes the University of Maryland, UMBC, Salisbury, Frostburg, and more. Jay Perman made the announcement, who is the USM chancellor and also a pediatrician, and he stated, “If we examine the data, and there is an extraordinary accumulation of data, we see that the risk of vaccines is very low, whereas the risk of COVID is very high.” 

This announcement will definitely be very impactful for TJ seniors right now who are looking to go to college, because a large number of students from TJ go to schools in the USM and will now be required to have the Covid vaccine. With growing numbers of universities and colleges across the US requiring the Covid vaccine, it is also possible that this will play a part in the decision on whether or not to mandate the vaccine for younger students such as those in K-12 schooling. This would have massive effects on the education system and would completely change what the next school year could look like for TJ and other schools in the nation. 

The large push by universities and colleges to mandate vaccines is also due to having suffered financially from either not having students on campus, or having to be at much smaller capacity which limits their financial profit. Mandating vaccines they hope will allow them to open to a larger capacity and therefore will generate more revenue from students living on campus. 

In addition, students have voiced large concerns and grievances over the virtual schooling system that they have experienced in the last school year, and being able to have a fully vaccinated student population would allow for more in person classes which is a very popular proposal among both students and staff. 

One concern that people have raised is the right to not get the vaccine for religious or other reasons, but many schools including the USM said in their statements that they will comply with federal or state laws and regulations on vaccine exemptions for religious, medical, or any other valid reasons. Another issue that people have raised is how students will prove that they are vaccinated, as vaccine passports are facing backlash and even being outlawed in some states. Many schools have not yet made statements on how students will prove that they are vaccinated, although Cornell University has already opened a “proof of vaccination” portal. 

With so many changes occurring and many more to come, it is hard to know what will really happen come the fall of 2021, although it is certain that many schools around the country will fight to vaccinate as many students and staff as possible and to bring campus life back to what it was.