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Can Colleges Require Covid-19 Vaccines?

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Most colleges and universities in the United States already require students on campus to present evidence of vaccines against diseases, like bacterial meningitis, which can spread quickly from close quarters. But Covid-19 is a much more complicated story.

A growing number of schools will require proof of coronavirus vaccination for students on campus this fall, including Cornell, Rutgers, Oakland University in Michigan, Brown University in Rhode Island and St. Edward University in Texas. Other schools do not require vaccines, but will offer incentives, such as an exemption from the campus mask mandate.

“Vaccines are our way of making sure we can be together for a normal fall semester,” Tom Stritikus, president of Fort Lewis College in Colorado wrote in a letter to the school.

Many other schools have yet to set a policy or have explicitly stated that they will not require proof. And the question of the obligation to be vaccinated is becoming another political debate.

A day after Nova Southeastern University in Florida announced it would require vaccinations, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, issued an executive order banning businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccination documents.

University president and CEO George Hanbury said the Fort Lauderdale-based school was caught off guard but was in the process of reviewing the ordinance. Some counties in Florida are working feverishly to vaccinate those of college age.

In Ohio, where all adults became eligible for the vaccine last week, Gov. Mike DeWine, also a Republican, announced plans to hold vaccination clinics on campus. Many colleges across the state have said vaccines would, at least for now, be encouraged but not mandatory; Cleveland state has said students living in its dorms next fall must be vaccinated.

“Although fewer of our young people get sick from Covid, the evidence clearly shows that they are important carriers,” DeWine said.

Throughout the pandemic, college epidemics have resulted in waves of infections in surrounding communities. In December, a Times analysis found that deaths in some counties where college students make up 10% or more of the population had increased disproportionately. Few of the victims were students; these were mainly older people living and working in these communities.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that schools in New York City will no longer have to temporarily close whenever two cases of the unrelated virus are detected.

Many parents with children in school said the rule disrupted learning and created an environment of daily uncertainty. Schools have closed several times, sometimes opening only a few days at a time. In recent weeks, closures have accelerated as middle and high school students returned after months of distance learning.

Epidemiologists and medical experts told ProPublica and the education news site Chalkbeat that New York’s two-case rule was arbitrary and had led to unnecessary shutdowns. They asked the mayor to adjust it. There has been very little transmission of the virus in the city’s classrooms since they reopened last fall.

“The way to defeat Covid is not to excessively close schools, but to suppress transmission both inside and outside of schools,” said Dave A. Chokshi, the health commissioner on Monday. of the city, during a press conference.

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Teachers’ Federation, has vigorously opposed any rule change for months. But he has now diminished his influence in the negotiations, in part because teachers have been eligible for a vaccine for nearly three months.

The mayor has yet to explain what new guidelines will replace the two-case rule. Our colleague Eliza Shapiro reported that negotiations on a replacement policy between the town’s teachers’ union and the town hall have been stalled.

The city is also set to change a rule it established over the summer that imposed a six-foot distance between students in classrooms. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said elementary school students should be only three feet apart.

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The number of students across the country attending school in person has increased dramatically in recent weeks. One reason: the governors of the two political parties have decided to bring back, or in some cases to force, the schools to resume the session.

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In Ohio, DeWine offered a deal to school districts: rapid access to vaccines for their staff members if they pledge to open classrooms by March 1.

In Washington, Governor Jay Inslee banned fully virtual education starting in April.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker demanded that most elementary schools offer full-time in-person education by April 5 and most colleges by April 28.

Democratic governors of Oregon, California, New Mexico and North Carolina, as well as Republicans from Arizona, Iowa, West Virginia and New Hampshire, also participated in the the action.

“Obviously, we love community and local control,” Inslee said, “but that’s not ultimately cutting the mustard here.”


  • Several colleges have imposed new restrictions and lockdowns, including Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Connecticut and Bates College in Maine.

  • the University of Richmond reversed the decision to keep the names of those associated with slavery and segregation in campus buildings.

  • Almost 100,000 students in Massachusetts cannot obtain transcripts from state public colleges and universities due to overdue balances.

  • Lake Superior State University, Michigan, will offer the first scholarship in the United States to study the chemistry of marijuana.

  • George Soros will give Bard College $ 500 million, one of the largest gifts ever to higher education in the United States.

  • A good read from The Times: Community colleges represent a low cost path to education. Now they are struggling with the working class students they want to educate.

  • Almost 80% of teachers and school workers in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the CDC said.

  • New York City announced this week that parents should attend if they want their children to take state reading and math exams this year.

  • Governor JB Pritzker of the Illinois signed a bill that restores the Chicago Teachers Union’s ability to negotiate with the city on a range of issues, which could complicate ongoing negotiations over how to open high schools.

  • Several school districts in Michigan, including Detroit, are temporarily returning to distance learning as the state battles an outbreak of infections.

  • the San Francisco The school board overturned its January decision to rename 44 schools that honor historical figures such as Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington after an outcry from parents and the mayor.

  • Elizabeth Davis, president of the Washington Teachers Union in the District of Colombia, was killed in a car crash on Sunday.

  • Students who planned attacks on schools were often severely bullied, suffered from depression, suffered from stress at home, and exhibited disturbing behavior, according to a study by the National Secret Service Threat Assessment Center.

  • A good read from the New Yorker: Isaac Chotiner lobbied Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, on his criticism of the CDC’s recent three-to-six-foot guidelines.

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Sports for young people are on the rise in many parts of the country. But without a vaccine for children, we must still avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Jenny Marder broke it down. Here are some key points.

  • Maintain the distance and wear masks when six feet is not possible. Disinfect equipment and prioritize conditioning and exercise over contact activity.

  • The security measures taken by the teams vary considerably. Evaluate local transmission rates and protocols. As you do this, consider the risk to society, including children with compromised immunity.

  • Reprogram practices for large indoor or outdoor spaces.

More importantly, said the founding director of a girls’ football club, finding a way to “help them have joy” safely.


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