PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence College is the latest Rhode Island university to mandate coronavirus vaccines for full-time undergraduate and graduate students returning to campus in the fall.

The decision was made after "weeks weighing various considerations," the Roman Catholic college's president, the Rev. Kenneth Sicard, said in a statement to the campus community on Thursday.

State health officials, the school's faculty and staff with the relevant expertise, leaders of other colleges, as well as parents and students, had input in the process, he said.

“We made this decision by returning to the core principles that have guided our decision-making since the pandemic began more than a year ago," he said. ”Our first imperative is to protect the health and safety of all those in our community, closely followed by our commitment to providing — to the greatest extent possible — the full academic and community Providence College experience to our students."

The school will consider exemption requests based on medical or religious grounds, he said.

The University of Rhode Island, Brown University, and Roger Williams University are among the other schools in the state that have already announced similar mandates.

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HEALTH DEPARTMENT DATA

The Rhode Island Department of Health reported 42 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Friday, but for the second day in a row, there were no new virus-related deaths reported.

The new cases were out of about 7,500 test results, a daily positivity rate of about 0.6%.

The number of people in the hospital with the disease was 66, according to the latest data.

The number of people now fully vaccinated in the state is more than 548,000.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Rhode Island has now fallen over the past two weeks, from almost 145 on May 12 to about 106 on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.