Vaccinating for the Fall Semester
The following letter from President Katie Conboy was sent to students on April 12, 2021 announcing the extension of the College’s vaccination policy to include inoculation against COVID-19.
With only five weeks left in the semester, we are growing more confident that we will finish the semester strong and together. Careful planning and safety considerations by faculty and staff make us optimistic about plans to produce our spring musical indoors, to allow graduates three guests at Commencement, and later to offer a modified summer schedule. Yet most on our minds is how to create plans that will allow us to return to a more normal fall semester, and what those plans could entail.
It is clear to me—as I know it is to you—that our ability to come together for in-person instruction next fall depends on suppressing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The broad immunization of our student body will be critical to achieving this goal. Because we are a congregate residential community, we must take every step available to prevent this highly infectious disease. Therefore, we will expand our existing student immunization requirements to include the COVID-19 vaccine. This additional requirement will become effective for the 2021-22 academic year.
The CDC continues to provide guidance for people who have been vaccinated, and it is encouraging to see that vaccinations are helping to suppress the spread of COVID-19. Just recently the governor of Indiana lowered the age of vaccine distribution to 16 and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has greatly expanded here, as it has in many other states. All of these steps give us hope that we will be able to provide you with a more traditional fall experience.
Our goals for 2021-22 are to:
- Offer face-to-face instruction as our primary mode of education
- Return to a traditional two-semester schedule with fall, Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks
- Remove restrictions placed on residence halls
- Host a wide array of curricular and co-curricular events on our campus (with food!)
- Reduce or eliminate masking requirements in many spaces
- Allow expansions to size of student gatherings
- Continue to share classes and extracurricular activities with Notre Dame and Holy Cross
- Reopen all dining venues
- Resume all mentored research opportunities
- Allow visitors once again on our campus
We know that more and more students are getting vaccinated every day. If you are among the vaccinated group, thank you! I’d like to encourage you to report your information to Health and Counseling using this link. At the same time, we know that some people will have concerns about the decision to require vaccinations. As with other required vaccinations, verified exemptions for medical or religious reasons will be accommodated.
There is so much yet to learn about the COVID-19 virus, and while we are encouraged by the progress made thus far, we still see areas for concern; in particular the variant strains and what they could bring. For this reason, among others, we are making the bold choice to mandate student vaccines. We do so with high hopes for the continued good health for our entire community—students, faculty, staff, family members, and friends of the College.
Katie Conboy, Ph.D.
P.S. If you have not yet received your vaccine, and would like to do so, a few spaces remain at a vaccination clinic on campus. The first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered on April 16, the second dose on May 7. Please use this link to learn more and to sign up for a shot.