The announcement comes as school officials make plans to open the campus further next semester. The university offered a mix of online and face-to-face classes this spring and allowed a limited number of students to live on the Charlottesville campus.
“Our planning assumes that the overwhelming majority of our community will be fully vaccinated this fall, allowing us to return to in-person instruction, research and residential life,” university leaders said in an email to students and employees.
Virginia’s flagship university joins a growing list of public campuses that are mandating coronavirus vaccines, most of which are in Democrat-led states, exposing a partisan divide between schools that will enforce vaccine mandates and those that will not.
So far, it appears that no flagship universities in states that favored President Donald Trump in his 2020 reelection bid are mandating the vaccine, according to an analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Across the country, more than 380 colleges are requiring coronavirus vaccines for at least some students or faculty, the tally from the Chronicle shows.
University officials said the campus could start to look the way it did before the pandemic, with most classes being offered only in-person, elimination of classroom capacity limits and spectators at sporting events.
“As we look back on an academic year where the pandemic changed every part of life at U-Va., the availability and effectiveness of the vaccines will make it possible for all of us to live, learn and work together in more ‘normal’ ways in the year to come,” officials wrote.
U-Va. officials spent weeks weighing the legal implications of requiring coronavirus vaccines. Some schools have been hesitant to enact such measures because, unlike other vaccines mandated on campuses, the drugs that protect against the coronavirus currently have emergency-use authorization — not full approval — from the Food and Drug Administration.
With vaccines becoming more prevalent, the American College Health Association is advising campuses to enforce vaccine requirements for students, calling it “the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students in fall semester 2021.”
Still, in the absence of mandates, local leaders are encouraging their communities to get inoculated. Some are offering incentives: Ohio will reward five vaccinated teenagers will full scholarships to state universities, even though vaccines are not required at most state schools, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently announced.
U-Va.’s mandate comes about a month after Maryland’s public university system said it would require students and employees to be vaccinated. In an apparent attempt to persuade faculty and staff, the University of Maryland at College Park’s athletics department is offering free football tickets to employees who receive their first or second shots before June 30.
“Vaccinating all faculty, staff and students is the single most effective way we can keep our community healthy this forthcoming semester,” said U-Md. President Darryll J. Pines.