DENVER — Most university students in Colorado will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to campuses this fall.
The Colorado State University (CSU) System and the University of Colorado (CU) System, along with University of Northern Colorado (UNC) and Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver), all announced Wednesday they would require the vaccination.
For CSU campuses in both Fort Collins and Pueblo, the coronavirus vaccinations will be required for all faculty, staff and students. The decision will be finalized by the CSU System Board of Governors when it meets on May 6. The requirement is conditioned upon full approval of one or more vaccines by the FDA.
“This action is in accord with our belief that the science around COVID-19 and the vaccines is clear and compelling, and it is in line with other typical, existing vaccine requirements for students on our campuses,” a statement from CSU says. “We believe it is also in keeping with the best guidance received from federal, state, and local public health authorities and supports our goal of returning to in-person learning as soon as possible – and to the fullest extent possible – under public health guidelines.”
In a joint statement from CU, UNC, MSU Denver and Fort Lewis College — which previously made the announcement — all faculty, staff and students will also be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
“The science around COVID-19 and vaccines is clear and compelling. Vaccines are good for public health, not only lowering rates of infection on our campuses, but also in the communities they call home,” the joint statement says. “Vaccines will also allow on-campus students and faculty to resume their in-person experience that is critical to academic success and personal growth.”
All of the campuses will allow for exemptions, and more details will be released at a later date.
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS), on the other hand, announced it will not be mandating vaccinations for college students in fall 2021, though it strongly encourages vaccinations.
CCCS says it “seeks to remove barriers to education pursuits.” Community college students “are more likely to work part-time or full-time jobs, be parents, and have limited resources.”
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have closely followed the recommendations of national, state, and local health authorities. We moved quickly to remote instruction and support face coverings, social distancing, testing, and quarantining when necessary, all while delivering on our mission and ensuring access for countless Coloradans,” Chancellor Joe Garci said in a statement.
Rural colleges with residence halls and athletic teams may require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
The University of Denver announced a vaccine requirement last week.
On Tuesday, the Colorado Department of Higher Education said it was “appropriate to expect” colleges and universities will require the vaccinations.
“With the recent uptick in cases and the rise in variants, we want to do what we can to protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty, staff, and communities,” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. “We strongly urge our students to get fully vaccinated and be prepared for in-person instruction and campus activities.”
Gov. Jared Polis also expressed support for making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for college and university students.
“Vaccines are the gateway to ending this pandemic, that is why we all need to do our part to get as many Coloradans vaccinated as possible,” Polis said. “That is why I expect that most higher education institutions will provide parents and students the peace of mind they want by making vaccines a requirement for next fall, and students want to get vaccinated so they can enjoy the full college experience. Those two or four years fly by quickly, and students have already missed out on so many important social experiences over the last few semesters.”