New York’s public college and university system, with over 60 campuses statewide, will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to in-person instruction in the fall, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Cuomo also encouraged “all private colleges and universities” to impose a similar requirement on their students. Many colleges had already established those requirements. The SUNY system mandate, which would go into effect if and when the federal Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to the vaccines, will apply to hundreds of thousands of students at community colleges and universities in every corner of the state.
The vaccines are currently approved under an emergency use authorization. Legal advisers to higher education institutions have said the emergency use authorization could complicate but not preclude colleges from mandating a vaccine. State Sen. Brad Hoylman last week introduced a bill that would add COVID-19 to the list of vaccines that all students in the state are required to receive, a list that also include inoculations against measles, mumps and rubella.
Union College will also require all students to be vaccinated in order to participate in college activities this summer and fall, according to a policy announced Friday.
The Union College vaccine requirement goes into effect July 1 and applies to “all students participating in coursework, research, student employment or related college activities.” Students must provide the college a copy of their vaccination card to be included in their private student health records prior to returning to campus.
“Union College has created a vaccination requirement in order to protect the health and safety of our community,” according to the stated policy purpose. “And to enable students to fully engage in various aspects of college life more than they have since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Union email announcing the requirement noted college officials were continuing to develop protocols and requirements, including a “likely requirement for employees to be vaccinated.”
Union joins RPI and other colleges across the country in requiring students get the vaccine.
Skidmore College has yet to announce a vaccine requirement, noting on its website that “the college is currently weighing its policy for the fall, but all students are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.” The Skidmore website also noted that the American College Health Association has recently recommended colleges require the vaccine and signaled a legal justification for a vaccine requirement.
The college health association in late April recommended all colleges require on-campus students to be vaccinated in the fall, arguing “comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students in fall semester 2021.”