VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — At Virginia Wesleyan University, if you want a shot at getting back on campus, this fall – you’re going to have to get a shot.
The entire campus community including faculty, staff, and students, must show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before returning for the fall semester.
The university’s president Dr. Scott Miller said requiring vaccinations for everyone on campus has been on their radar for months.
“Well it’s been on our radar for some time, but there really is no prize for being first. We always want to make the best decision for health and well-being of our campus community," Dr. Miller said.
“Our students take this so seriously because they want to be here in person, they want to live in the residence hall, they want to be with their friends in the fraternity and sorority houses, they want to compete in intercollegiate athletics, the special things that are part of a college experience.”
The announcement comes after Attorney General Mark Herring said colleges and universities can require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. He said, there is no federal law prohibiting them from requiring vaccinations.
“We wanted to hear definition from the state attorney general on whether it was legal for us to really require a vaccination that was still categorized as an emergency. So when we heard the official clarification, we were ready to roll," Dr. Miller said.
“We were ready for it. We expected that that clarity would come and when it came we were ready to make that announcement."
Virginia Wesleyan University is the first college in Hampton Roads, and Virginia, to require everyone on campus to get vaccinated.
“The faculty are very much in favor of the vaccination. The students are very much in favor of it," Dr. Miller said. “Our faculty staff and students are aggressively embracing the vaccination.”
In an e-mail to students and staff, Dr. Miller said, limited exceptions, such as medical or religious reasons, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“In March of last year students were saying, 'Man this is great I can sign in on my computer and sit in bed or sit at the breakfast table and take these classes. Boy, this is cool I may never go back.' Eight weeks later they were chomping at the bits to come back," he said.
VWU is the second university or college in Virginia requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone on campus at this point. The other school is Hampton University, which requires the shot for staff, faculty, as well as new and returning students.
Author's Note: The video below is on file from Aug. 27, 2020.