NEWARK — Students who plan to return to University of Delaware campuses in the fall must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, officials announced Wednesday.
"In short, we know from nationally reported data that vaccinations are successfully preventing COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths," UD President Dennis Assanis said in a letter to the campus community. "For this reason, it is more critical than ever that our community works together to ensure that this progress does not stop."
Students must be immunized before their arrival to campus, and no later than Aug. 15, officials said.
UD follows suit behind Delaware State University, which also said it would require students to be vaccinated before returning to campus.
Students will be required to upload proof of vaccination. Like DSU, UD officials said exemptions may be granted with appropriate documentation explaining reasons for exemption, including authorized medical or religious purposes.
"Vaccines are key elements in our commitment to returning to a robust campus life in the fall and beyond," Dr. Assanis wrote. "We all want to end the pandemic that has so disrupted all aspects of our lives as soon as possible."
He added that face coverings, physical distancing, a symptom checker and other measures will continue and "those who are not vaccinated will be subject to frequent testing requirements in the fall."
On its website, the university stated that it "is only requiring vaccination for students in advance of the fall semester, although faculty and staff have been highly encouraged to do so and continue to report positive momentum on this front."
It attributed the decision to "close living arrangements and study and social behaviors of most college students present an elevated risk for continued spread of the coronavirus."
"In addition, immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella, tuberculosis and meningococcal meningitis have long been required for UD students and not for the average University employee," the site reads. "While UD Human Resources welcomes self-reported vaccination status from all faculty and staff, we recognize certain provisions apply to UD employees associated with various workforce groups, prohibiting universal requirements of this nature."
In his letter, Dr. Assanis said that internal surveys showed "significant interest in vaccination among our students, faculty, and staff, with more than 96% of respondents being fully vaccinated, in the process of vaccination or having a desire to be vaccinated."
"To this end, UD will continue to offer vaccine events on campus to help ensure many more individuals are vaccinated," he said.
The university will hold a vaccination clinic at Clayton Hall on Thursday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required.