BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana University is requiring all students and employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall semester and is threatening to cancel class registrations and fire staff members who don’t comply.
IU officials announced the requirement for its campuses across the state Friday, saying it will allow the university to lift most coronavirus-related restrictions such as face masks and physical distancing.
Knowing that the vast majority students and employees are vaccinated is the only way it “can confidently return to in-person classes, more in-person events and a more typical university experience,” the university said in a statement.
IU is among a growing number of colleges across the country requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, even as opposition to similar mandates led Indiana legislators to prohibit the state or local governments from issuing vaccine passports.
IU President Michael McRobbie said the university’s seven campuses are planning a “return to mostly normal operations” for their some 90,000 students.
“Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine among our students, faculty and staff continues to extend the university’s comprehensive and thoughtful approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses and brings us one step closer to making a ‘return to normal’ a reality,” McRobbie said in a statement.
Exemptions to the IU’s vaccination requirement will be limited to “a very narrow set of criteria,” including medical reasons and documented and significant religious objections, the university said.
Purdue University plans to require students and employees to either provide proof of vaccination for the fall semester or participate in frequent COVID-19 testing. Some other Big Ten Conference schools, such as Rutgers, Maryland and Northwestern, are requiring student vaccinations.
Among Indiana’s private colleges, Notre Dame, DePauw and Valparaiso, have announced are ordering similar vaccination requirement for students.
IU’s students, faculty and staff members should have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 1 in order to meet the university’s requirement. They will have to demonstrate that two weeks have passed since they’ve received the final vaccine dose by Aug. 15 or when they first return to campus.
Faculty and staff members who don’t meet the vaccination requirement “will no longer be able to be employed by Indiana University,” the school’s statement said.
Republican legislators last month pushed through a new law prohibiting state or local governments from issuing or requiring COVID-19 vaccine passports. Conservatives across the country portray them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices.
The Indiana law doesn’t include any limits on schools or private businesses.