PHILADELPHIA - With abundant COVID-19 vaccine appointments now available for people 16 and older, several colleges and universities across the Delaware Valley have made the vaccine mandatory for students returning to campus in the Fall.
Students at most schools can be omitted from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons. Even when vaccinated, students are expected to maintain mitigation rules including mask-wearing and social distancing.
Rutgers University in late-March became the first school in the country to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students returning to campus for the Fall semester. Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for health affairs, said the vaccine is the key "to the return of campus instruction and activities closer to what we were accustomed to before the pandemic."
Other New Jersey colleges have followed suit, including Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montclair State University, Princeton University, Stockton University and Rider University. Stevens Institute of Technology, located in Hoboken, has mandated the vaccine for all students and faculty.
Philadelphia-based colleges Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania have also made the vaccine necessary for students who are expected to return to campus. Lehigh University has likewise mandated the COVID-19 vaccine.
UPenn President Amy Gutmann and school officials agreed that mass vaccination is "central to our commitment to having a safe campus environment."
Temple University, Villanova University, and Penn State have not required the vaccine thus far, but continue to encourage students to get their shots.
Delaware State University said in early May that all students and staff will be required to get the COVID-19 shot in order to return to campus for the Fall semester. The requirement, according to the university, will not apply to students and staff that cite religious or medical exemptions.
Officials said the campus averaged 0.5% positive tests last academic year which allowed the school to bring back roughly 70% of our residential population. President Tony Allen believes the COVID-19 vaccine requirement will help allow the school to return to "normal methods of course delivery."
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