Delaware State University officials told students during a virtual event Tuesday that they want all students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated by the fall.
The historically Black university isn’t mandating students get the COVID-19 shot, but only those who have been vaccinated by the fall will be able to return for in-person learning. Those who have not been vaccinated can continue with the current hybrid learning system.
On Wednesday, the Dover university will hold its first vaccine clinic on campus for 400 students. A second vaccination event will be announced at a later date.
University officials say those who cannot get vaccinated on campus should find another way to get the shot before returning to school in the fall.
Since January 2021, more than 120,000 cases have been linked to colleges and universities in the United States — a 30% increase since the end of 2020, according to the New York Times. More than 535,000 cases have been linked to colleges and universities since the beginning of the pandemic.
DSU officials encouraged students to protect themselves and others and took the time to explain the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
“I cannot stress enough — it is important to protect ourselves, protect your loved ones, protect the university community. Get vaccinated,” said Michelle Fisher, director of student health services at DSU.
Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first in the region to announce COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students attending in-person classes. The university has included exemptions for religious and medical reasons.
The University of Pennsylvania is not requiring its students to get the shot. While the University of Delaware and Drexel University are not mandating the vaccine either, they are strongly encouraging it. UD recently emailed students about how they can get vaccinated, and why it’s in their best interest to do so.
DSU will hold multiple graduation ceremonies in May, with strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. University officials say its 100,000 square foot stadium will be able to host graduation spectators while still meeting the state’s pandemic indoor gathering limits of 50% of fire capacity.
The university will include a graduation ceremony for 2020 graduates, who did not have an official event because of the pandemic.
Safety precautions include rehearsing virtually, having fewer faculty members on stage than what’s typical, plexiglass barriers, and mailing diplomas.
Graduation guests must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken a minimum of three days prior to the commencement, or proof of the COVID-19 vaccination. Temperature screenings will be taken upon arrival, and masks must be worn at all times.
“I think it’s important, and I know there’s been some debate in the national scene, particularly among communities of color, about vaccination. It’s important that our communities take care of each other. So while it won’t be mandatory with respect to graduating, as I said, I think we have led by example throughout this process and we’re now at the tail end of it,” DSU President Tony Allen said during the virtual event.
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