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Colleges Require COVID Boosters for Students

Omicron variant, rising cases force colleges to close early this semester.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

December 17, 2021

More than 30 colleges have issued COVID booster shot mandates. Expect this number to rise over the next few weeks.
Colleges Require COVID Boosters for Students
Have you heard Jimmy Fallon’s holiday hit? He premiered his latest song, It was a…(Masked Christmas) featuring Ariana Grande and Megan Thee Stallion, on The Tonight Show. The song reflects on both last and this year’s Christmases and the implications that COVID has had on the holiday season. The catchy chorus goes like this: It was a Masked Christmas, we stayed in the house We covered our nose and covered our mouth But it’s Christmastime We’ll be in line for a booster
For many college students around the country, that will be their reality as they head home for winter break: standing in line for a booster. Just as colleges required students to get vaccinated in order to return to campus, many are requiring students to receive a COVID booster shot as cases spike drastically and the Omicron variant makes its way through the United States. According to Newsweek, Cornell University abruptly cancelled classes and moved all final exams online after 700 students tested positive over the course of three days. They weren’t the only ones. Princeton University and New York University did the same hours later. It’s eerily reminiscent of March 2020.
These are schools that boast a 98% vaccination rate, according to Yahoo! News, and they are also among the thousands of schools that were hoping to relax mask requirements and social distancing rules in order to have a more normal spring semester. Obviously, with the new variant and rise in cases, schools will be reassessing how to move forward when students return in January or February. Yahoo! News states that all eligible students at Syracuse University will be required to get the booster over winter break as well as take a COVID test upon their return to campus. UMass is sending students home with rapid tests that must be taken before their return to campus. Stanford University students will be required to undergo weekly testing once more and are barred from gathering socially or holding big events for the first two weeks. Russell Furr, Associate Vice Provost for Environmental Health and Safety at Stanford, told Yahoo! News, “This is something we’ve grappled with throughout the pandemic — how do we get a balanced approach? The goal is to avoid the strict lockdowns seen early in the pandemic, when student mental health really suffered.”
As of November 2021, 1,100 colleges and universities across the country required COVID vaccinations in order to attend in person, according to AP News. It is likely that those institutions that required the COVID vaccine initially will mandate that students receive the booster as well. Students will likely hear about booster mandates via email directly from their university. However, if a student anticipates that their college or university will require a booster, it may be prudent to schedule a vaccination appointment sooner rather than later. Because of the new variant and recent guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), vaccination appointments have been filling up rapidly in communities. Earlier this month, the CDC announced that individuals ages 18 and older are eligible for a booster shot. This applies to those who have completed their primary COVID vaccination series more than six months ago (or more than two months ago if they had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Those seeking a COVID booster shot may choose from either of the three vaccines for their third dose. As students wrap up their first semester of the 2021 – 2022 academic year and face yet another semester of unknowns, here is some food for thought: • College seniors that will be graduating in the spring of 2022 have only ever experienced one normal year of college. • The 2018 – 2019 academic year was the last school year in which students didn’t have to wrestle with vaccination mandates, mask requirements, and social distancing. • College juniors, sophomores, and freshmen have never experienced a normal year of college. Wouldn’t it be nice to return to normal for the 2022 – 23 academic year? Absolutely. We’ll see how colleges handle continuing COVID mutations, booster mandates, and incentives for students to vaccinate. In the meantime, stay healthy – and hopeful!

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