While the list of American colleges and universities mandating COVID-19 vaccination continues to expand, the University System of Georgia (USG) has told its students, faculty, and staff that they don’t have to be vaccinated before returning to campus this fall.
“Institutions are not responsible for assessing current COVID-19 vaccination rates for their institution,” reads the latest public health guidelines by the USG, which enrolled over 341,000 students in its 26 campuses across Georgia as of fall 2020.
“We strongly encourage faculty, staff, students and visitors to get vaccinated and will continue to do so,” the guidelines state. “While the vaccines are safe and effective, it is an individual decision to receive one and will not be required to be a part of our campuses.”
That being said, the USG also pledged to ensure vaccine availability to the campus community, either through vaccination opportunities on campus or in partnership with a local provider.
When it comes to social distancing and masks, the USG said that fully vaccinated individuals will be able to resume campus classes and other activities without physically distancing or wearing masks. Those who are not vaccinated are “strongly encouraged” to physically distance from others when possible and keep masks on while inside campus facilities.
The announcement comes as some of the nation’s largest public university systems are requiring those on campus to be vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
In April, the University of California and California State University systems announced that all students, faculty members, and other employees must be vaccinated by the fall. They were soon joined by the University System of Maryland.
“Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end,” said Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California.
The State and City University of New York Systems are among the latest to issue a vaccination mandate, under a directive by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“No excuses,” Cuomo said at a press conference in Manhattan last week. “SUNY and CUNY boards will require vaccinations for all in-person students beginning this fall.”
“Let’s make a global statement: you cannot go back to school in person in September unless you have a vaccine,” the Democratic governor added. “That will be a major motivation for people to get the vaccine.”