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More area schools could consider COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Published: May. 19, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:30 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - In response to Lawrence University’s decision to require the COVID-19 vaccine for students, other schools in the region are now revealing their plans.

Right now, St. Norbert College isn’t making the vaccine a requirement, but school officials say that decision could change in the coming weeks.

On college campuses across the country, the debate over a COVID-19 vaccine requirement is just getting started. The first school in Wisconsin to have a mandate is Lawrence University, but the option is also being discussed elsewhere.

“The sort of bottom line response is we haven’t finalized our decision yet on whether or not we will maintain our current stance which is strongly recommend, or whether we will move to require the vaccine,” said Julie Massey, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs at St. Norbert College.

St. Norbert College announced Tuesday it’s dropping a mask mandate for students who are fully vaccinated.

However, getting the vaccine won’t be a requirement to attend classes in person, at least for the time being.

Massey added, “We also know that were we to make that decision, we need to make it in a timely enough fashion that our students can plan for the fall.”

Schools in the UW System won’t require the vaccine this fall, but are advising students that it’s strongly recommended.

Ripon College officials issued a statement Wednesday saying, “Ripon College has not yet determined or released our fall 2021 policies and procedures as it relates to vaccines, masking, and distancing. We will continue to evaluate in the coming weeks, taking our guidance from the CDC and the Fond du Lac County Health Department, which informed our recent decisions regarding summer masking and physical distancing protocols for employees and on-campus students.”

So far, the majority of students at St. Norbert are getting the vaccine.

“Last week there was sixty percent of our students, faculty and staff had received at least a first shot of the two dose series. Sixty percent, so that was really encouraging, and a little over forty percent are fully vaccinated,” Massey said.

Even though the vaccine is required at Lawrence University, students can get a waiver to opt out for medical, religious, or personal reasons. Faculty and staff are exempt.

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