GW to require COVID-19 vaccination this fall for students, faculty and staff

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader | Assistant Photo Editor

Officials said they will use discretion in enforcing the mandate for those with "extenuating circumstances" beyond their control that will cause delays in their vaccination.

Updated: April 19, 2021 at 3:53 p.m.

Officials will require all GW community members who are in person this fall to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before arriving on campus.

University President Thomas LeBlanc and other administrators announced Monday that they will require students, faculty and staff to receive their final vaccine dose at least two weeks prior to arriving on campus, except for “limited exceptions” for those with medical or religious reasons. GW community members who are studying or working remotely will not be required to show proof of vaccination, they said.

“To further support the health and safety of our community, after consultation with student, faculty and staff leadership we will require students, faculty and staff who are in person this fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to being on campus,” officials said in the announcement.

GW community members can receive any vaccine authorized for use in the United States, the announcement states. Current students, faculty and staff must upload their vaccination record card to GW’s online medical portal.

“We remain optimistic about the coming months, and we are excited to take more positive steps that prioritize health and safety as well as focus on flexibility and an engaging on-campus experience this fall,” the announcement reads.

Officials said they will use discretion in enforcing the mandate for those with “extenuating circumstances” beyond their control that will cause delays in their vaccination.

Georgetown and American universities announced last week they would require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, joining a growing list of colleges across the country, but neither school announced a requirement for faculty or staff.

Mayor Muriel Bowser endorsed administrators’ decision at a press conference Monday, adding that she hopes the announcement will encourage young people to get vaccinated before they return to the District.

“We miss our university students and our universities and the vibrancy that they bring to our city,” Bowser said. “We know that the students miss college life, and we also know that it will help with all of the University operations, including their ability to bring their staff back, so we think that it’s a great idea.”

Officials said they have yet to determine whether vaccinated GW community members will need to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, but the University will continue to follow the latest guidelines.

“We are following the evolving science on the use of surveillance testing in vaccinated populations as we determine the appropriate use of COVID-19 testing on campus in the fall,” the University’s coronavirus website reads.

Lynn Goldman, the dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health, signaled her support for the requirement earlier this month, saying parents and professors had urged officials to implement the requirement.

“We strongly encourage everyone to receive the vaccine at their earliest opportunity,” officials said Monday. “As more students, faculty and staff transition back to campus, having our entire population vaccinated is essential to keeping our community healthy and safe.”

This post has been updated to include comments from Bowser.

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