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News >  Higher education

Eastern Washington University will not require COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall

UPDATED: Thu., May 6, 2021

Students walk through Eastern Washington University’s campus between classes on April 12, 2019, in Cheney.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
Students walk through Eastern Washington University’s campus between classes on April 12, 2019, in Cheney. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

Eastern Washington University will not require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for the coming fall quarter, Interim President David May announced Thursday.

In a letter to the campus community, May – while encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – said “the decision to get vaccinated is not one that we can make for you.”

“The recent drop in COVID infections around campus certainly reflects how powerful we can be working together,” May wrote. “This is why EWU is once again asking all of you to take personal responsibility and choose to be vaccinated before coming back to campus. Returning to campus in the fall requires that students, faculty and staff do their part to keep campus open.”

There may be some areas of campus and activities where a vaccine requirement is implemented, however, May said. The president added that EWU is considering eased restrictions for students who are vaccinated.

Overall, EWU’s vaccine expectations may be subject to change based on state and public health mandates, May said.

May’s announcement comes as colleges and universities across the country are deciding whether to enact a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students and staff.

Washington State University is moving forward with a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for on-campus students, staff and volunteers that will allow for medical, religious and personal exemptions. Earlier this week, the University of Washington announced a similar policy for all students, with the university undecided on faculty and staff.

On Thursday, both Central and Western Washington universities also announced COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students, faculty and staff.

May said “there are good reasons, religious, medical and philosophical, why someone may choose not to be vaccinated.”

“Each step we’ve navigated over the last year – from moving to virtual classes and canceling in-person events to implementing mask requirements and social distancing measures on campus – has come with healthy debate that involves personal feelings and beliefs, strong emotions and a desire to do what we each feel is right,” he said. “And at every step, the university has trusted the campus community to unite and work together to follow our guidelines as we work to a return to normal.”

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