Two liberal colleges set to enforce stricter mandates for vaccine boosters, gatherings

Two prominent liberal colleges are set to enforce new mandates for students and faculty regarding COVID-19 booster shots and gatherings outside the classroom. 

The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., will require a COVID-19 vaccination booster dose for all eligible students, faculty and staff in “university-owned or operated facilities” beginning on Feb. 1, 2022, according to the GW COVID-19 dashboard. Those who do not submit documentation by that time will be required to test weekly and complete a questionnaire until they are in compliance with the mandate. 

However, students who do not provide evidence of a booster by March 15 will not be eligible to register for the summer or fall semesters. Faculty and staff who have not received a booster shot by that same time will get a “warning message” and further “employment actions” may take place.

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“Good faith” religious and medical exemptions are accepted but must be properly uploaded and documented within the respective faculty or student online portals. Weekly testing will be enforced for those who are granted an exemption. 

Meanwhile, Cornell University’s main Ithaca, New York, campus has canceled all in-person student gatherings, both formal and informal, in response to confirmation of the omicron variant being detected within the college community. This rule applies to all students, including those at the graduate and professional level, and includes any events with members of the local community, according to a Dec. 11 website post by the college. 

However, as Cornell reaches the end of the semester, the post, which was also emailed to students, indicates that in-person final exams will continue as planned “as there has been no evidence of classroom virus transmission.”

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In a separate portion of the letter, the school notes that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been linked to social gatherings where masking and “other public health measures” were not followed properly. “Being vaccinated, even with a booster shot, is not a license to let down our guards,” warned the school. 

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