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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Concerns regarding fall 2021

Concerns+regarding+fall+2021

As we finish another unprecedented school year, students are voicing concerns about the health and safety of the St. Joe’s community following the fall 2021 plans sent in a university announcement on March 31. 

Reduced physical distancing, early add-drop periods due to instructional method changes that will likely provide more on-ground options and an increase in student activities and events will take place during the fall semester, according to the university announcement.

While these plans are hopeful, we are worried about a clear university policy on student vaccination for the fall planned face-to-face instruction and activities, and the threat of another COVID-19 wave. 

Rutgers University, Brown University and University of Notre Dame are requiring all students to be vaccinated in order to return to campus for the fall semester. In addition to the vaccine requirement, they are also focusing on conducting mainly in-person operations, similar to St. Joe’s. However, these universities’ plans reflect increased health and safety measures, such as mandated masking and required vaccinations. At this time, St. Joe’s does not require COVID-19 vaccinations and has not clearly  stated whether masks will be mandated,

Of course the plans that were presented in the university announcement are exciting, as we all want nothing more than to return to our normal college experience, but some students still have anxieties about health and safety guidelines being eased too quickly. 

The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, which originated in the United Kingdom, is more contagious and currently the main variant in the U.S. There are concerns of the effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines against the B.1.1.7 variant. With the evolving information on new strands of COVID-19 and information about the vaccines, choosing course modalities this early is difficult.  

Due to the vaccine still being tested against different variants and in the early stages of regulation, the university is not currently requiring students to be vaccinated for the fall. 

While this is understandable, many students still would like to have as many hybrid, hyflex and online options as possible to ease anxieties about the evolving pandemic. It’s difficult to predict where we will be a month from now concerning the virus, let alone five months from now. 

We ask the university to continue expanding remote options for students and families who worry about St. Joe’s stance on requiring anyone on-campus to be vaccinated in the fall. While these plans are exciting and hopeful, we worry that the university may be moving too quickly towards a post-pandemic environment. 

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