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Albion becomes first Michigan college mandating vaccination for all students

Albion College
Albion College will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students and staff in the fall.

Albion College will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to the Calhoun County campus this fall, becoming the first college in the state to make a move that has been criticized by Republican legislative leaders.

Albion plans to hold classes fully in-person this fall for its about 1,500 students.

“Our focus has been, and remains, managing the risk associated with COVID-19, and prioritizing the health and safety of our entire campus community to ensure we are able to offer the in-person experience our students know and love,” Albion College President Matthew Johnson wrote in statement Wednesday. “This vaccination requirement is a continuation of that commitment.”

 

The school will accept all three vaccines currently FDA-approved for emergency use in the United States: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Medical and religious exemptions will be accepted.

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In a survey conducted this spring by the college, 80 percent of Albion students indicated that they would like to get vaccinated, according to the press release.

Albion is one of just a handful of Michigan higher education institutions to require vaccinations so far, and the first to issue a blanket requirement that applies to all students, faculty and staff. The University of Michigan, Oakland University and Lawrence Technological University are requiring vaccines for students living in on-campus housing in the fall, while Kalamazoo College will require all students who live on-campus or wish to participate in in-person classes or activities to get the shot. 

At U-M, instructors are pushing for the administration to go further and issue a broader mandate. Currently, students will not have to be vaccinated to attend in-person classes in the fall 2021 semester, though unvaccinated students will still be subjected to mandatory testing requirements. 

Republican state legislators are advocating for a spending bill that would prohibit any of Michigan’s 15 public universities from mandating that students be vaccinated in order to enroll or attend in-person classes this fall.

While Albion is a private college, House Oversight Committee chair Steve Johnson still wasn’t pleased to hear from Bridge Michigan the school is requiring vaccinations in the fall.

“Colleges should not be limiting access to education based off of personal medical decisions,” Johnson, R-Wayland, wrote in a text to Bridge.

Across the United States, an increasing number of colleges and universities are requiring students to provide proof of vaccination before the fall semester begins, including all eight Ivy League schools. The California State University and University of California system, which encompass 33 campuses statewide, jointly announced that they will require vaccination upon full FDA approval of a vaccine. 

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 380 campuses have so far announced plans requiring some or all students and faculty to get the shot.

Arjun Thakkar contributed to this report

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