President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim will be announcing a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for the fall semester in the near future, potentially setting Columbia up to be the first college in Illinois to require its students be vaccinated.
During a Friday, April 16 student forum, Kim said he is still figuring out some specific details before he officially announces the requirement for the college.
“The thing that we’re working on right now is the language so that it both explains that the requirements in place [are] to try to guarantee the community’s safety … but also acknowledges that there will be exceptions,” Kim said. “We will honor the valid exceptions.”
Kim did not specify what the “valid exceptions” would be and said the wording of the exceptions is something he is also working on.
Kim said the approval of the campus as a vaccination site in January, as reported by the Chronicle Jan. 21, allows the college to implement this requirement.
“Being a vaccination site gives us the ability then to say to students, ‘It’s required and we can help you get the vaccination right here on campus,’” Kim said.
Lambrini Lukidis, associate vice president of Strategic Communications and External Relations, said vaccines will be administered by CareATC and will be available to everyone on campus, including faculty and staff. She said if people are getting vaccinated through the college, they will have to receive both doses at Columbia. It has not yet been determined when the college would begin vaccinating members of the campus community.
Kim said he has talked to student groups who have given him positive feedback in response to the possibility of a collegewide vaccination requirement. Kim did not say specifically what groups he had spoken with.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, as of publication time, no colleges in Illinois have announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students to enroll in the fall semester, meaning Columbia could potentially be the first. In Indiana, both the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College have announced requirements.
In a letter to its students, University of Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins said the vaccination requirement “will enhance public health at Notre Dame and in our community, while also contributing to our ability to return to a more vibrant campus environment.”
The University of Notre Dame announced its requirement on April 7 and as of Thursday, April 15, more than 90% of its undergraduate and professional students had received at least one dose of the vaccine, Jenkins told the Notre Dame News.
Lukidis said the main goals of requiring students to be vaccinated are increasing health and safety efforts and returning to face-to-face classes.
“We want to be able to open up campus for as much in-person instruction as possible,” Lukidis said.
More updates to come.