More U.S. colleges requiring students to get vaccinated before returning to campus

Author: Megan Cerullo / CBS News
FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, pedestrians walk through the gates of Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Brown University has joined a small but growing number of American colleges and universities requiring students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before they attend classes in person and participate in other activities on campus.

Brown President Christina Paxson announced in a letter on Tuesday that all students at the Ivy League school will be welcomed back to campus in the fall and invited to live in the university’s Providence, Rhode Island, residence halls provided they are vaccinated.

The university has not yet implemented a system for verifying students’ vaccination statuses, but further information will be provided over the summer, Paxson said. It is also still deciding whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for Brown employees.

Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, is also requiring that students returning to in-person learning for the fall semester be fully vaccinated by the first day of classes. The university’s goal is to have the maximum number of community members vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity on campus, Northeastern Chancellor Ken Henderson said this week.

Northeastern said it will announce “in the coming days” what the school will require as proof of inoculation. Massachusetts law already requires university students to submit proof of immunization against measles, meningitis and other contagious viruses.

Cornell University, Fort Lewis College, Nova Southeastern University, Roger Williams University, Rutgers University and St. Edwards University are also requiring COVID-19 shots for students who wish to return to campus in the fall.

Legal experts say these institutions are well within their legal rights to require returning students to be fully immunized against the coronavirus, although schools are required by law to grant exemptions for medical and religious beliefs and offer other reasonable accommodations.

It’s not yet clear whether individuals who are vaccinated will be required to wear masks at Brown and Northeastern. But if all goes according to plan, this year’s fall semester “will look and feel much more like Fall 2019 than Fall 2020,” Paxson said in her letter.

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