DC-area colleges detail vaccination, return-to-campus plans for fall

Major D.C.-area universities are releasing their return-to-campus plans for the upcoming fall semester, signaling a return to in-person instruction more than a year after coronavirus restrictions drove students to online learning.

University of Maryland

The University of Maryland will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students faculty and staff when classes begin on Aug. 30.

University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman announced the decision on April 23.

The university plans to gradually expand the presence of people on its College Park campus this summer toward a full return in the fall.

In its phased plan, the university said it will adhere to public health guidelines from Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland.

Everyone on campus will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing and plans must be in place to deal with any COVID-19 cases and quarantines. Mask-wearing will be required in all indoor and outdoor public locations, according to the university’s guidelines. Vaccines are highly recommended for students, staff and faculty.

The university also calls on faculty and staff working remotely to gradually increase the number of days they are present on campus. The school said by July 5, it expects to reach medium population density on campus. By Aug. 2, the campus will hit near 100% capacity, the plan states.

Teleworking by staff and faculty may continue through July but any telework after Aug. 2 will require a new teleworking agreement between staff and supervisors.

The university cautions that the dates in its phased plan are predictions and hinge on anticipated changes in government regulations and health advisories. It could also change depending on the course of the pandemic.

Maryland anticipates that by Aug. 2. there will be full capacity in campus classrooms and labs, full dining service, near capacity and typical operations in university residence halls, full capacity and typical operations in gyms, libraries and lounges.

Classes begin on Aug. 30.

Georgetown University

Georgetown University will require all its undergraduate and graduate students at its main campus, medical center and law center to receive a COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester.

In a letter to the university community, President John J. DeGioia said the decision was made following the guidance from the school’s chief public health officer Dr. Ranit Mishori and its Public Health Advisory group. Students, staff and faculty leaders were also consulted.

“As I shared in my message on March 25, we anticipate that the conditions will be in place this fall to bring our community back and resume more regular life on our campuses,” DeGioia said. “Our gradual return is beginning this summer, with a full return of our community for the fall.”

Georgetown plans to give additional information for international students and student living broad in the coming weeks. Medical and religious exemptions will be granted, DeGioia said, as long as it is in accordance with local and federal laws.

A decision on requiring faculty and staff to be vaccinated will be determined on a later date based on the ongoing public health measures.

American University

American University is requiring all students as well as faculty and staff who set foot on campus to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The university is asking all faculty and staff with a campus presence this upcoming school year to fill out a form by July 30 attesting they have been vaccinated.

According to a recent staff survey, 73% of faculty and staff they were already vaccinated and another 19% said they planned to get a vaccine. Faculty and staff can request a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine requirement.

Similarly, all students who plan to live or travel to campus for any reason during the fall will need to be vaccinated, said AU President Sylvia Burwell. Students will need to provide proof of vaccination similar to the other vaccinations already required to attend the university. It will need to be shown before the August move-in.

“This requirement is an important component of our return to campus in the fall,” Burwell said. “COVID-19 vaccines reduce the spread of the disease and are very effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization.”

More information is available for students on the university’s website.

International students will be contacted directly before coming for the fall semester and be given information on how to get vaccinated. Exemptions will be allowed for medical or religious reasons per university protocols, Burwell said.

Staff and faculty will be strongly recommended to get vaccinated, Burwell said. Face coverings, social distancing rules and other safety protocols will be in effect during the fall semester, including for those who receive a vaccine.



George Washington University

GWU will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully inoculated against the coronavirus prior to arriving on campus this fall, President Thomas LeBlanc announced on April 19, after consulting staff and student leadership on the matter.

“We continue to be encouraged by the progress we make each day toward a post-pandemic university, country and world,” LeBlanc said in an email update to the community. “We expect the availability of vaccines to increase, allowing everyone age 16 and above the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine this spring or summer.”

Current students and staff should upload their vaccination record card to the school’s medical portal. For incoming students, the COVID-19 vaccine will be included as part of the immunization requirements due each fall.

Any vaccine currently authorized or approved for use in the U.S. will be accepted. The school says it will work with international students who have received a vaccine not currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on a case-by-case basis.

Exemptions will only be granted on a limited basis, chiefly for medical or religious reasons; students who are online-only, and faculty who will only be teaching virtually this fall, will not be required to receive the vaccine unless they plan on coming to campus. Routine tests will not be accepted in place of vaccination.

“We will exercise discretion in enforcing the mandate for those who have extenuating circumstances that are beyond their control and that will cause delays in vaccination,” the school said in a news release.

More information on the new requirement is available on the university’s website.

University of the District of Columbia

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) will require “full vaccination” for anyone entering campus facilities when they reopen in the fall, the school announced.

The school said it made the decision based on federal and D.C. guidance as well as feedback from a universitywide survey.

The school said it will continue to follow D.C.-mandated capacity limits and require masks and social distancing when the campus reopens. In addition, learning will be “delivered through multiple modalities,” including face-to-face and virtual-remote options.

Morgan State University

Baltimore’s Morgan State University will require all faculty, staff and students to have received a full vaccination by Aug. 1.

In addition, University President David Wilson is forming a Vaccination Management Team to put together a plan for overseeing the process.

“After careful consideration, extensive internal and external consultation and supportive feedback from a myriad of members from within our Morgan community, the best path forward to a return to normalcy is to require everyone within our community to get vaccinated,” Wilson said in a release.

“The science is credible; vaccinations are the only way that we are going to achieve herd immunity, and everyone must be a part of that solution. We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we work through these challenging times together, with the safety of the greater community at mind.”

Morgan serves roughly 8,000 students with more than 2,200 faculty and staff.

More information is available online.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia will require all students to be fully vaccinated for the 2021-22 school year by July 1 or they will not be allowed on campus after June 30, the school announced May 20. Proof of vaccination records will be also be required by July 1. Vaccine information can be uploaded to the HealthyHoos Patient Portal.

Students can seek medical or religious exemptions. But if an exemption is granted, students will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing requirements and likely other public health measures. More details about the exemption process will be available no later than June 15.

Vaccination for staff is strongly encouraged, but not yet required. School officials will monitor employee vaccination rates going forward and consult with public health experts as they consider whether to require vaccines for all employees. If they do, exemptions for medical or religious reasons will be allowed.

Currently, UVA community members who are fully vaccinated may forego wearing masks indoors and outdoors, the school announced May 14.

WTOP’s Glynis Kazanjian, Dick Uliano and Will Vitka contributed to this report.

Jose Umana

Jose Umana is a digital writer/editor at WTOP. He joined WTOP in 2020.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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