STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut on Friday became the latest school to require that students be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to classes in the fall.
The school's board of trustees approved the policy on a unanimous voice vote during a special meeting on Friday.
UConn joins seven private state colleges and universities, including Yale, and 11 of the nation's top 25 public universities in instituting a mandatory vaccination policy, school officials said.
Dr. Andrew Agwunobi, the school's interim president, said UConn decided to institute the policy to guard against any fall resurgence of the virus or its variants.
“There's a lot of ambiguity. There's a lot we don't know,” said Agunobi, who is a pediatrician by training. “One thing we do know is that vaccines work and vaccines make us safer.”
Students will be required to receive a full course of vaccination before attending classes, with some medical and other exemptions on a case-by-case basis, he said.
Those receiving exemptions would be subject to other protocols, which could include a requirement to wear masks, undergo periodic surveillance testing, participate in close contact quarantining and abide by housing restrictions.
UConn said the school will accept foreign students who have received any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization.
Agwunobi said UConn also will hold clinics and vaccinate those who have not received shots as they arrive on campus.
School officials believe 60.7% of residential students at UConn are already vaccinated, he said.
Besides keeping students healthy, Agwunobi said the policy will help mitigate concerns of faculty returning to in-person learning.
The 17 public universities and community colleges in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system is considering a similar policy, spokesperson Leigh Appleby said.
“CSCU is strongly considering a vaccine requirement and is undertaking a review, with input from faculty, staff and students, to examine the most effective ways to ensure all members of our communities are vaccinated against COVID-19 before stepping on campus for the fall semester,” Appleby said.