University Announces Vaccine Requirement for Fall Semester


Courtesy of Sarah Jones

Students, faculty and staff will be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine for the Fall semester. 

Sarah Wisniewski, Co-News Editor

On June 3, University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. sent an email to students, faculty and staff, notifying members of the University’s community that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required to return to campus for the Fall semester. Members will need to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 1 in order to be in-person.

The decision comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun to lift restrictions such as mask wearing for individuals who are fully vaccinated. The nation has also seen capacity limits be lifted as vaccine distribution increases. Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania allowed restaurants and bars to return to full capacity before Memorial Day Weekend and has announced that the mask mandate will be lifted when the state has 70% of adults fully vaccinated.

With such progress, Donohue explained in his email that the vaccine is a new tool in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore the University must utilize such an effective tool in order to return to a more normal learning experience on campus. “We utilized the tools that we had at that time—masks, social distancing, good personal hygiene, etc.—to ensure a safe return for students, faculty and staff,” Donohue said. “It worked, and we were able to successfully hold the entire academic year on campus.”

The University conducted a vaccine survey prior to students and staff leaving campus for the summer break. The survey asked members of the community to share the status of their vaccination and their plans to receive it if they had not already. The results of that survey showed that a majority of community members had already received either their first dose of the vaccine or had been fully vaccinated. Donohue said that requiring the vaccine for those who have not received it yet, will hopefully result in the ability to lift mitigation measures from the past year and “provide the safest possible environment for both the University and local community.”

The Student Health Center and Human Resources will facilitate documentation for faculty and staff to prove they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Students will have their documentation in their health records. The University acknowledges that some members of the community will not want to receive the vaccine and therefore will have the same religious and medical exemptions allowed as with other required vaccines. International students and staff that are unable to receive the vaccine prior to returning to campus in the fall will also be able to receive it on-campus once they return. At the end of the Spring semester, the University partnered with Rite Aid to distribute over 1,500 vaccines to students, faculty and staff. The partnership provided members of the community with the Moderna vaccine and many international students took advantage of the opportunity before returning home.

Donohue voiced that the directive will likely be welcoming news to the University’s community but understands some individuals may not agree with the requirement. “It is necessary to allow for the vibrant on-campus experience that has made Villanova flourish for the past 179 years.

Requiring the vaccine allows for in-person instruction, a full slate of extracurricular and service-related activities, residence and dining halls at full occupancy, and many more of the typical Villanova experiences,” Donohue said. “It also allows us to significantly reduce many of the COVID mitigation measures—including testing and quarantine/isolation—that must be in place to ensure the safety of our community.”

The University of Pennsylvania will also require their students and staff to be fully vaccinated in order to participate in face-to-face classes and on-campus activities. Drexel University has also announced their plan to require the COVID-19 vaccine in order for members to return in-person.

The University will continue to provide details in the upcoming weeks to further inform community members of the directive and future plans for the Fall semester.