Gonzaga University will require all undergraduate, graduate and law students to have the COVID-19 vaccine if they plan to be either on campus or studying abroad for the fall 2021 semester. Students will have to submit proof of vaccination to GU through a Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) compliant portal which will be made available on June 21.
Students working through graduate programs remotely will be exempt from this newly declared stipulation, and those with medical exemptions will be accommodated as well.
This new stipulation issued by GU implies the university's goal of transitioning back to primarily in-person learning for the fall 2021 semester.
“It is our conclusion that reducing opportunities for infection and transmission is the single most effective prerequisite to lifting COVID-19 restrictions and returning to a normal campus life in the fall,” said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh in a statement. “We are planning now for our fall 2021 campus COVID-19 health protocols and knowing that our campus community is vaccinated is a critical element in that process.”
GU cites several factors as contributors toward its decision to enact this mandate. Among them was the fact that community inoculation lives up to GU’s Jesuit, humanistic mission, and the understanding that vaccines will help mitigate the need for ulterior resources that GU utilized last year to combat the challenges of COVID-19. Additionally, local, state and federal authorities support vaccination as the primary tool in combating the pandemic.
The University will be accepting vaccines approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and in the case of international students, vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) are acceptable as well.
For international students who don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine upon their arrival in the US, GU will make vaccines available to them after they quarantine for the CDC mandated 7- 10-day period. The University said it will also be making vaccines available to domestic students who had difficulty receiving the vaccine prior.
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industry enacted new mask policies for employers, who must be able to confirm that their employees are fully vaccinated before easing mask and social distancing requirements. To meet these guidelines, GU is working on developing a process for all faculty and staff to provide vaccination information.
Last school year, over 750 students reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and had to isolate, with over 1,500 being forced to quarantine as a result of potential exposure.
“We are all looking forward to safely resuming the many activities that define the Gonzaga experience,” McCulloh said.