With vaccines become available to everyone, it was inevitable that a major university would take the step of mandating vaccinations for all students.
Rutgers University in New Jersey is the first to announce that in the fall, all of its students will have to be vaccinated if they want to take classes in person.
“In creating the safest campus in America, the best way, and the best place to start, is with our students,” said Antonio Calcado, Rutgers’ chief operating officer.
Schools and COVID
So will other colleges follow the same mandatory vaccination path? Barry University student Kaeddy Garcia hopes so.
“We could all be safe, healthy and be able to have regular class and get back to normal,” Garcia said.
Her school in Miami Shores is encouraging, but not mandating, vaccinations.
“It’s up to each individual college and university to make their own protocols based on knowing their own population so for us at Barry, that’s not the choice we’ve made thus far,” said Barry University’s VP for administration, Jennifer Boyd-Pugh.
Across town at St.Thomas University in Miami Gardens, the administration is considering the Rutgers policy but has not yet made a firm decision for the fall.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the policy, there’s good guidance that would suggest that universities could do that and each campus has to make their own distinction and Rutgers is a public university which also changes the narrative a little bit,” said Matthew Roche, the VP for student affairs. “Every discussion that we’re having is just weighing those options of what is the best impact and creating the safest environment on campus.”
Speaking to students today, some of them are ready to roll up their sleeves immediately, while others are foreshadowing some resistance to mandates.
“I’m planning on having my vaccine day one if I can get an appointment for day one,” said Barry student Mateo Gomez.
“My plan is to keep learning about the vaccination because I’m still hesitant about taking it just because I keep hearing different types of information on both sides,” said Barry student Lauren Gordon.
There’s reluctance to the vaccine among some college students, and Barry student Kaeddy Garcia told us it’s fueled by misinformation on social media.
“It’s like half and half, I feel like a lot of people do want it it because they’re tired of how we’re living and they just want to get a vaccine but like other people are like, I don’t want that, I just want to do my own thing, I’m completely against it,” Garcia said.
The big unknown in Florida is, of course, what will the state university system do? So far, there’s been no decision from Tallahassee on mandatory vaccinations for students and staff.
For the private colleges and universities, the decisions can be made on their own, and the plans for the fall are still a work in progress.
“I think we will continue to evaluate our health and safety protocols as time progresses and the more we learn, the more we change and shift and adapt,” said Barry’s Boyd-Pugh.