In a Dolphin Digest email sent out on April 23rd, Le Moyne College announced that all students will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccination in order to return for the Fall 2021 semester. The statement said that accommodations will be made for students based on religious and medical reasons, but that most students are expected to get vaccinated to reduce the risk of infection for all on campus. Many colleges all over the nation, including Syracuse University, are adding to the list of over 100 colleges that are requiring the vaccine. This poses a lot of questions about what the rest of the Fall semester will look like for students.
“It isn’t only for the Le Moyne community that we have chosen this path, it is also for the greater good of all our neighbors,” said President Linda LeMura in the released statement. “As Pope Francis said early this year, ‘I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine. It is the moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.’ ”
Jim Hannan, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said that the decision to require vaccines for students was inspired by other institutions, while also being something the college has discussed for months. He said that the college has been “watching trends in higher education as well as other sectors of society” which has led to this decision being made by the college.
Back in March, the college announced that they will be fully in person for the Fall 2021 semester. Specifics have not yet been released, but the college hopes to have in-person classes, lectures, performances, club activities and events for the Fall semester. It has not been announced if testing, masks, and/or social distancing requirements will still be in place, but the college will continue to comply with CDC guidelines and work with New York State and Onondaga County to keep campus as safe as possible.
Kyle Tantillo, a junior communications major said, “I think it [requiring vaccinations] is a good thing, but I don’t like that faculty are not required to get it.”
Currently, the decision to require faculty, staff, and administrators to get the vaccine has yet to be made. The college encourages staff to get vaccinated, and staff have had the opportunity to get vaccinated prior to the rest of the study body, but they are still not required to do so at this time.
Only 5.1% of coronavirus cases on-campus have been employees, but college employees have not been held to the same vigorous testing standards as students, so it is possible that this number may not be fully accurate. Although it looks like faculty are least at risk for giving and spreading the virus, they are a big part of the campus community, and some students agree that all on campus should be vaccinated.
Many students may be pondering questions left unanswered, like will masks be required on campus, along with the Campus Clear app? How will testing be conducted for students? How will students be able to stay safe if their classmates choose to not get the vaccine for religious or medical reasons, or how can students exempt from the vaccine stay safe as they are more likely to catch or spread the virus?
Will guests be allowed on campus next year, and will there be more freedom for students such as where they can eat on campus? “My assumption is yes, through the remainder of the spring semester given the reasonable assumption that we have not ensured that all students are yet vaccinated and thus want to keep safety protocols in place,” said Provost Jim Hannan. “As we have done throughout the year, we will review policies and make changes that are in keeping with public health guidelines.”
The campus release also stated that students who need help making a vaccine appointment or who require transportation to get their vaccine will receive assistance from the college.
Contact information on that part of the article was unclear, but any questions or concerns students have should be sent to Student Development as they oversee the response to this decision. Their email address is [email protected], and the office phone number is (315) 445-4527.