Cornell will require students and faculty to get vaccinated this fall

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Cornell University will require students and faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to be allowed onto its upstate New York campuses this fall.


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The Ivy League school’s president and provost released a statement on Friday announcing the mandate, though exemptions will be granted to those who won’t get the shot for medical or religious reasons.

Last week, New Jersey-based Rutgers became the first major university to announce that it, too, would require students and staffed to get inoculated before the state of the fall semester. 

‘With the recent announcements of expanded vaccine eligibility in New York and other states, and increasing vaccine production, it is likely that all members of our community will be able to obtain vaccination sometime this spring or summer,’ Cornell President Martha Pollack and Provost Michael Kotlikoff wrote in a joint statement.

‘Accordingly, Cornell intends to require vaccination for students returning to Ithaca, Geneva, and Cornell Tech campuses for the fall semester.’

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Cornell University will require students and faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to be allowed onto its upstate New York campuses this fall. The image above is an undated file photo of Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca, New York

Cornell’s fall semester is scheduled to begin on the week of September 2. The school is home to 23,620 students, including some 15,000 undergraduates and 6,000 grad students.

While the school is willing to grant certain exemptions, ‘the expectation will be that our campuses and classrooms will overwhelmingly consist of vaccinated individuals, greatly reducing the risk of infection for all.

‘Individuals who are not able to obtain vaccination prior to arrival for the fall semester, or whose vaccination is not recognized by New York state, will be expected to be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible, and Cornell is investigating ways to facilitate this process.’

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The image above shows a woman receiving a dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine in The Bronx on January 10

The school will direct students and staff to a ‘proof of vaccination’ online portal where they will be required to enter information registering their ‘vaccination status.’

The Cornell community must register through the portal beginning on April 15 ‘once they have completed the dose schedule for their vaccination.’

‘Once we have better data about the degree of community protection that has been achieved, we will offer additional details regarding full campus reactivation in a safe and responsible manner,’ the statement read.

The school said that if the campus achieves ‘herd immunity’ whereby ‘the degree of immunity is sufficient to prevent the spread of virus within the community,’ then ‘classes normally taught in person will return to that mode of instruction, without any routinely scheduled online option.’

‘All members of our community – faculty, staff and students – should begin to plan for this return to in-person teaching and learning in the fall of 2021,’ the statement read.

If fewer than half of the student population has been vaccinated by the start of the fall semester, the school will maintain its current hybrid schedule of online instruction as well as learning in ‘de-densified classrooms.’

Cornell will likely not face any legal obstacles from the government to making the vaccine mandatory, though it is conceivable that someone may challenge the edict in civil court.

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Rutgers University is preparing to bring only vaccinated students back to campus this fall

Colleges and universities in the United States have routinely required students and staff to get vaccinated for other ailments including mumps, and rubella (MMR), bacterial meningitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella, hepatitis B, and influenza. 

Other colleges and universities nationwide are expected to follow in the footsteps of Cornell and Rutgers as the calendar moves closer to the 2021 fall semester. 

According to Cornell, 68 people on campus tested positive for COVID-19 during the week of March 26 until April 1.

Given that the number of tests conducted during that time exceeds 41,000, that means the positivity rate stood at just 0.16 per cent.

Ithaca is the seat of Tompkins County, where public health officials say there are currently 160 active cases of COVID-19.

On Sunday, county authorities reported 11 new cases of the disease.

According to state data, more than 44,000 residents of Tompkins County – representing 43 per cent of the population – have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

As of Sunday, more than 24,000 county residents have completed the vaccine series.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday that the state had surpassed 10 million total doses of vaccine administered to residents.

According to the governor’s office, nearly a third of New York state residents have been given at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Some 20 per cent of Empire State residents have been fully vaccinated, according to Cuomo’s office. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get service. 

The governor’s order scrapped a plan by a private university near Fort Lauderdale that would have required students and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when they returned for the fall semester. 

Nova Southeastern University had announced earlier Friday that vaccinations would be mandatory by August 1.

Nova President George L. Hanbury II said in a statement hours later that the school had planned for universal vaccination ‘to protect the health and safety of our students and staff,’ but that it will comply with DeSantis’ order.

‘We will continue to follow all state and federal laws as they evolve,’ Hanbury said.

The university has 6,314 undergraduate students and 14,574 advanced degree students at its main campus in Davie, and across campuses in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach Gardens, Tampa and Puerto Rico. 

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