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University to require COVID-19 vaccination for students for upcoming academic year

Update 4/30/21: Reference FAQs about this requirement

The University of Rochester will require all undergraduate and graduate students who plan to enroll and be on campus for the 2021-22 academic year to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This decision was made in consultation with CURT, University health professionals, student leaders, and University leadership, and was determined to be the most effective approach to limiting or eliminating the spread of COVID-19 at the University, and the safest and most manageable way to increase in-person operations, instruction, activities, and student living on the University’s campuses.

All students enrolled for the 2021-22 academic year and who plan to be on campus are expected to have received an approved vaccine by August 1, 2021. This requirement applies to all schools, regardless of when their students are on campus for the 2021-22 academic year, as well as to all students who live either on campus and off campus. If it is not possible for a student to be vaccinated by August 1, the University will make all efforts to provide the vaccine to students upon their arrival to campus—and to those students who are already on campus—if they commit to receiving it. As a reminder, University students ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in New York State, and there is no cost.

Additional details on the student vaccination requirement include:

  • Any student who is not fully vaccinated by August 1 will be permitted on campus only if (1) they are in the process of becoming fully vaccinated or have been approved by University Health Service (UHS) for a medical or religious exemption from being vaccinated (see process below); and (2) they abide by measures intended to limit the spread of the virus by unvaccinated students, which may include some combination of masking, social distancing, testing, or other measures, as determined by state or federal guidance or the University, and which may change over time.  Unvaccinated students living in University housing may have to be relocated at times, if necessary, to minimize the spread of infection.
  • Students must receive a vaccine—both doses of a two-dose vaccine or the single dose of a one-dose vaccine—approved for use in the U.S. or accepted by the CDC; more guidance from the CDC is expected on this and will be announced. Arriving international students who have not received one of these approved vaccinations will have the option to be vaccinated upon arrival to campus.
  • Students may request medical or religious vaccine exemptions through UHS at the point that they either confirm or decline their annual student health insurance coverage. The student will attest in writing that they are declining the vaccination due to their religious beliefs or medical needs.
  • The University will not offer remote instruction as an option to students who are not vaccinated. The only current allowance for remote learning will be for international students outside the United States who cannot physically arrive to be present on campus.
  • Students who have already contracted COVID-19 are generally required to be vaccinated.

Additional details about this student vaccination requirement, including how students will show proof of their vaccination, will be forthcoming. Moving forward, University leaders are now carefully looking at the best ways to achieve the greatest vaccination rates among faculty and staff who teach and work on the University’s campuses. An announcement on this guidance for faculty and staff will be made in the coming weeks.

Fall semester

Looking ahead to the fall semester, the University will continue to follow CDC and state guidelines, as well as monitor the conditions at the University, with regard to requiring face masks, physical distancing, and adherence to other COVID protocols. University officials are hopeful that faculty, staff, and students will lead the way on vaccine uptake and allow the University to lower restrictions as quickly as state and federal regulations allow.

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