The college will require all students to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning to campus for the Fall 2021 semester, the President’s Office announced on Friday, April 23. In the letter addressed to students, faculty and staff, President Biddy Martin relayed that more information will follow concerning how to request a medical or religious exemption and how to submit confirmation of vaccination. Martin also stated that the college is “very hopeful” that pandemic-related safety measures will be greatly reduced in the fall.
The requirement follows Martin’s April 21 announcement that the five colleges in the valley — excluding the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass), already a long-time vaccination center — had secured a large number of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses, and that all eligible students who register will be able to roll up their sleeves on Wednesday, April 28. The Student will report on the on-campus vaccination process on April 28.
The college joins a growing list of more than 30 higher education institutions that will require Covid-19 vaccinations in the fall of 2021. The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced its decision on April 21, along with other schools such as Duke University, Brown University, Northeastern University, the University of Notre Dame and Syracuse University. Additionally, two of the largest university systems in the country, the California State schools and the University of California system, announced their vaccination requirements on April 23.
“The idea of vaccinations has been under discussion for several months,” Chief Communication Officer Sandy Genelius told The Student. When asked about whether the college was influenced by the wave of announcements from other schools, Genelius said that the decision was the college’s alone.
The college has yet to announce whether faculty and staff will also be required to be vaccinated in the fall. Genelius reported that staff and faculty vaccinations are being discussed, while Martin expressed that the college “continues to recommend strongly that faculty and staff obtain vaccinations.”
Martin also informed the community that as of April 23, 55 percent of on-campus students and 64 percent of faculty and staff authorized to work on campus have been fully vaccinated or have begun the vaccination process.
For those unable to obtain the vaccine before the start of the fall semester, the college has ensured that it will provide assistance. Its plan is to direct unvaccinated students to vaccination locations in the Amherst area upon arrival.
Though Martin did not address which vaccine students should seek, she did ensure that the college will communicate more information about the fall semester, “including the move-in process, testing protocols and other health measures,” in the upcoming weeks and throughout the summer months.
In a final note, Martin expressed her gratitude for the “diligence, patience, sacrifice and generosity” of the community that has made it possible to navigate such tumultuous times.