Most College Students, Faculty And Staff In Colorado Will Need A COVID Vaccine Before Going Back To Campus In The Fall

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Snow blanketed the University of Colorado Boulder campus on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Students were allowed to return to some dorms and in-person classes earlier this month.

Several of the state’s largest universities announced it will require students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campus in the fall.

The University of Colorado system, Colorado State University system, University of Northern Colorado and Metropolitan State University of Denver declared the requirement in a jointly signed press release. Fort Lewis College, which was the first Colorado institution to issue a mandate for students, also signed the release.

“We consulted with state and local health departments to inform this determination, as well as with the Governor’s Office and Colorado Department of Higher Education,” the statement said.

People can apply for medical, religious, or personal exemptions. Campuses will send more details to students, faculty and staff as plans are finalized. And students have not been informed how schools will verify that they are fully vaccinated. 

MSU President Janine Davidson said the requirement will help campuses return to a pre-pandemic normal. 

“I am encouraged by the prospect that vaccinated faculty, staff and students will be able to enjoy a safe return to on-campus activities, including in-person classes, events and the social life that we have missed over the past year,” Davidson said.

Earlier this week, Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado Department of Higher Education executive director Angie Paccione said they would support schools that require vaccinations among students and faculty. However, they stopped short of making a statewide mandate. 

“With the recent uptick in cases and the rise in variants, we want to do what we can to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty, staff, and communities. We strongly urge our students to get fully vaccinated and be prepared for in-person instruction and campus activities,” Paccione said in a statement.

Unlike the University of California and California State University systems’ vaccine mandate, Colorado institutions won’t be waiting for the vaccine to obtain full Food and Drug Administration approval. In the CU system’s FAQ about the requirement, they say they anticipate FDA approval in the near future.

Many of the state’s private universities, including University of Denver and Colorado College, already announced similar mandates earlier this month.

So far, the Colorado Community College System and Colorado Mesa University are the only institutions that have decided to not issue a vaccine mandate. Several universities have not come to a formal decision.