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Several Utah colleges to require COVID-19 vaccines for students

FILE PHOTO (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University and Davis Technical College have announced they plan to require COVID-19 vaccines for students after the Utah Board of Higher Education issued a letter urging schools and presidents to consider doing so under current legislation.

“Expanding COVID-19 vaccinations among college populations will allow us to keep campuses open for in-person instruction, provide a safer environment for the campus community and help ensure that our state’s economy remains open and vibrant in the months ahead,” the Board of Higher Education said in its letter.

University of Utah

University of Utah has begun sending emails to students with information on the process for confirming vaccination status or requesting an exemption based on health conditions, religious or personal beliefs.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community, state leaders this week have granted all Utah System of Higher Education institutions greater flexibility to set vaccine policy for their campuses,” U. officials said in a statement. “The University of Utah intends to pursue requiring COVID-19 vaccination for its students. We appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with state leaders as the rates of infection and hospitalization grow throughout Utah.”

The U. said at least 67% of its students were fully vaccinated and 4.5% were partially vaccinated as of Aug 27.

University officials say students have to either confirm they’re vaccinated or get an exemption by Sept. 30. Otherwise, they’ll have a hold placed on their registration for the spring semester. A student can remove that hold by completing either of those options.

Utah State University

Utah State University is also working on a vaccination mandate to be implemented this fall that will require students on the Logan campus to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the spring semester and will include the state’s exemptions for medical, religious and personal reasons.

“In Utah, public colleges and universities may require students to receive vaccinations as a condition of enrollment if students are provided the option to opt out of this requirement for medical, religious, or personal reasons,” the Board of Higher Education said in its letter. “This year, the Legislature passed HB233, Education Immunization Modifications, which authorizes higher education institutions to require vaccinations as a condition of enrollment, provided the exemptions listed above are included. The Board views vaccinations as an effective method to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our campuses open. As you evaluate the needs of your campus and region, we encourage you to consider requiring COVID-19 vaccinations — free of charge — for your students.”

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University will require students to have the COVID-19 vaccine beginning in the spring semester.

UVU officials said they are still working to put together the plan. They said they want to balance keeping the community safe from COVID-19 while allowing for personal, religious and medical exemptions.

The school won’t require faculty and staff to get vaccinated, but that could change.

Weber State University

Officials at Weber State University said they were also working on a vaccination requirement, which was similar in nature to the one being issued at USU.

They issued a statement Friday, which read in full:

“Weber State University has received guidance from the Utah System of Higher Education encouraging college and university presidents to consider requiring COVID-19 vaccines on their campuses with allowable exemptions for religious, medical and personal reasons.

Weber State will work on a vaccination requirement to be implemented this fall that will require students to be vaccinated prior to spring semester.

As a USHE institution, we want to do our part to help the state combat increasing rates of infection and hospitalizations.

Details about the requirement — and the process — will be shared with students, staff and faculty next week.”

Davis Technical College

Davis Tech will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 22.

School officials say there will be exemptions for medical, religious, and personal reasons.

More information about the vaccine requirement will be announced soon.

Davis Tech is also limiting gatherings on campus to a maximum of 20 people.

Dixie State University

Jordon Sharp, vice president of marketing and communication at Dixie State University, said the university was not mandating vaccines for students, faculty and staff at this time.

Sharp’s statement went on to say, “DSU is working with our local health department and government officials to monitor and assess the COVID-19 situation in Southern Utah on a daily basis. DSU is strongly encouraging vaccines and mask usage along with providing free vaccinations clinics for all students, faculty, and staff. In addition, DSU is hosting educational forums with local medical professionals to provide information and answer questions regarding the vaccine for our entire campus community. For more information regarding the vaccination clinics and forums, please visit, dixie.edu/covid19.

Salt Lake Community College

Students, faculty and staff at Salt Lake Community College received a statement from President Deneece G. Huftalin Friday, which read in part, “Given the increasing number of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant, we are pleased to have more options to consider in controlling the spread of the virus. Early next week, we will be reviewing these options and will share any changes to our current policies and protocols at that point.”

Huftalin encouraged everyone to continue wearing face masks while on campus, regardless of vaccination status.

“We know the use of face coverings is an effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and something nearly all of us can do to keep everyone at the college safe and well,” the statement continued.

Southern Utah University

SUU officials announced on Oct. 2 they would not be implementing a vaccine requirement for students at this time.

“Based on our ongoing conversations with campus leadership, as well as with public health officials, local leaders, and members of the state legislature, one thing is very clear: this is a complicated issue!” officials said in a press release. “While we all share a common goal of health and safety, there are differing opinions and factors to consider in how we best reach that goal.

“Due to these added complexities and additional conversations, we have determined it would not be prudent for our institution – at this time – to implement a vaccine requirement for students. Circumstances, available health solutions, and what is permitted under COVID-related laws may change. This is an evolving pandemic, and we will continue to evaluate all of this and engage with public health officials and our campus community.”

University officials urged students and staff to get vaccinated and pleaded with them to wear masks while indoors and in classrooms.

“We know the best way to remain open and keep campus safe is to follow public health guidelines, including vaccination, mask usage, testing, social-distancing, and proper health hygiene,” they said.

SUU’s Health and Wellness Center and the Southwest Public Health Department will be providing three clinics for students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your ID to all clinics:

  • Oct. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Cedar Breaks Room
  • Nov. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Cedar Breaks Room
  • Dec. 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Cedar Breaks Room
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