Many major universities in Colorado announced Wednesday that they have joined the push to require all students and employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before coming back to school for the fall semester.
That includes the University of Colorado system, which operates campuses in Boulder, Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs; the Colorado State University system, which has campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo; the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley; and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
CSU's decision will be finalized next week, officials said, and carries a condition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving at least one more vaccine for public use.
Fort Lewis College in Durango and the University of Denver announced earlier this month that all students would be mandated to be immunized against the coronavirus by fall.
Colorado College announced on Monday it would require all students and employees to be vaccinated before next semester.
Exemptions will be allowed for medical and religious reasons, and some institutions, such as Colorado College, are considering adding a third exemption for people who don’t want to get vaccinated for personal reasons.
None of the 13 colleges and 38 campuses in the Colorado Community College System will require vaccines for students or employees, Chancellor Joe Garcia announced Wednesday.
Schools will continue to follow recommendations of health authorities, he said in a news release, and the system will “continue to strongly encourage all students, faculty, and staff to not only get vaccinated, but to follow all other safety protocols.”
Since community college students are more likely to work part-time or full-time jobs, be parents and have limited resources, the community college system “seeks to remove barriers to educational pursuits and serve all learners as student-ready institutions,” Garcia said.
Pikes Peak Community College President Lance Bolton said in a statement that his school “is absolutely not requiring students or employees of the college be vaccinated.”
He added that being vaccinated is a personal choice.
“We truly support those who may believe ‘what gets put in my body should not be determined by my college,’” Bolton said.
Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday said he supported public institutions requiring postsecondary students to get the vaccine, to “provide parents and students the peace of mind they want for next fall.”
“Vaccines are the gateway to ending this pandemic,” Polis said. “Students want to get vaccinated so they can enjoy the full college experience.”
With the recent uptick in cases in Colorado, requiring vaccines is appropriate, Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said in response.
The CU system said in its statement that the institutions arrived at the decision to require vaccines for all after consulting with state and local health departments, the governor’s office and the Colorado Department of Higher Education.
Calling the science “clear and compelling,” the statement said “vaccines are good for public health, not only lowering rates of infection on our campuses, but also in the communities they call home.”
The message continued, “Vaccines will also allow on-campus students and faculty to resume their in-person experience that is critical to academic success and personal growth.”