NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from Jan. 28, 2022.
Several universities in Hampton Roads will no longer require students to get a COVID-19 vaccination after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a legal opinion.
Miyares' opinion says Virginia’s state colleges and universities aren't legally allowed to require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a general condition for enrollment or in-person attendance.
Miyares, a Republican, argued that the Virginia General Assembly didn't authorize state schools to mandate vaccines, but lawmakers could pass legislation doing so.
Norfolk State University (NSU), William & Mary (W&M), Old Dominion University (ODU) and Christopher Newport University (CNU) subsequently revised their policies for the Spring 2022 semester.
The universities shared updates that strongly encouraged students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and touted the high vaccination rates among students and faculty.
NSU said nearly 90% of its students and nearly 85% are vaccinated.
Amy Sebring, W&M's COO and COVID-19 director, said Miyares' opinion will have a minimal impact this semester since nearly 100% of students living and learning on campus are vaccinated and over 90% have been boosted.
ODU President Brian Hemphill said the vaccination rate for students is over 97% and 99.7% within residence halls.
CNU President Paul Trible said 95% of students and over 90% of faculty have been fully vaccinated.
Miyares' opinion reversed former Attorney General Mark Herring's position that state schools could require vaccinations for students. Last April, Herring said there is no federal law prohibiting Virginia colleges and universities from imposing a vaccine requirement.
He also argued that the boards of visitors of Virginia’s higher education institutions have been granted broad authority by the General Assembly to implement policies and regulations to protect the safety and welfare of students.
Since taking office on Jan. 15, Miyares has joined Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in an effort to change COVID-19 policies.
Youngkin signed an executive order to make masks optional in public schools, prompting lawsuits from several groups, including several parents from Chesapeake. Miyares filed a motion to dismiss that suit, arguing the order affirms "that parents matter."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend getting vaccinated to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. Masking is also recommended to prevent the spread of the virus.
If you're interested in getting a vaccination, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov. More information about the universities' updated COVID-19 policies is available on their websites: