Colleges in the 2021-2022 Academic Year & Coronavirus (Part 2)

If that occurs, some “required contingent on full FDA approval” colleges will or will likely move to “required”:

  • California public universities
  • New York public universities
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Santa Clara University

Others which are holding off on requiring due to EUA status may reconsider:

  • Virginia public universities

At least one school allows a temporary exemption for students who do not want to get an EUA vaccine, where such exemption expires when a vaccine gets full FDA approval:

  • Northwestern University

Based on list at Colleges requiring Covid vaccine for fall 2021 megathread

Northwestern today announced they’re mandating it and the only exemptions are for medical or religious reasons. Nothing mentioned about full approval. I think that probably means they’re fairly confident it will be approved before students return in September (classes begin Sept 21) and don’t want to give students an excuse as to why they aren’t. They’ve also probably had their legal team on it since Pfizer submitted approval. Great news because as you said, it is probably going to do as you said, cause the other schools to go to a required from a required only when approved.

Also, while not guaranteed, it’s likely U-Chicago will probably follow. This really only leaves the public schools in city otherwise for the most part not mandating it and this only helps with herd immunity which we really need.

Yes, NU did just mandate the vaccine. Had not heard of the EUA exemption. International students are exempt if they can’t get a vaccine in their own country, provided they have signed up to receive on on campus as soon as they arrive.

UIUC, UIC, and UChicago have not issued a vaccine mandate. Update to add: Same with IIT (IL Tech).

Vaccination Requirement FAQs: COVID-19 and Campus Updates - Northwestern University has the following (emphasis added):

That page also has details on getting vaccine on arrival if not able to get it beforehand, and the acceptance of WHO-authorized vaccines as well as FDA-authorized vaccines.

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This is helpful. Thanks.

CYA which is actually smart of them.

Since they start almost a month later than many other schools, that gives them a lot of extra leeway in the extra time for students to get vaccinated but also confidence that it will be approved by the FDA by then.

The article also noted that they estimate more than 75% of students are fully vaccinated or have received their first dose. This probably contributed to the decision to speed up the mandate.

Great news!

In Canada.

Most universities here are providing quarantine facilities for international students and there’s no guarantee that it will still be a requirement by the fall.

I don’t think it’s going to be a major deterrent for students wanting to study here.

Well the CDC just said that vaccinated people don’t have to wear a mask inside except when on public transport (trains, airplanes) and Dr. Walenksy, when questioned about the possibility of being in the same room as unvaccinated people, said that the unvaccinated will have to assume the risk. I wonder what implications this has for masking policy in classrooms. I for one would love to be able to teach in person without a mask when my summer class starts in July.


Also here in TX, our schools were open from the beginning and everyone was invited… in our 3000 student HS, we never reached 50% in attendance all year despite having very few cases in school.

The 50+% that stayed home made it possible for those who needed or wanted to be in school to do so with max 50% capacity.

Saying we were “open” and somehow managed to not have cases or acting like it was some better choice, seems misleading to me. Behavior changed for whatever reason you want to claim… and we had a decent outcome. Masking, distancing and eventually vaccinations made it possible IMO.

We all look forward to a much more normal HS year next fall.

So if the CDC is indicating no masks, except for…, then what reason will schools, etc have for requiring masks at outdoor graduations, outdoor sporting events, etc? Do people think things will get relaxed quickly? No movement yet from the governor in NC…I think folks are too busy trying to find gas to worry about it yet but I think there may be some quick pushback if he keeps the mask mandate.

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For adults, remember that not everyone who wants vaccine has been able to get fully vaccinated, although we are probably pretty close to that point in most areas (probably mid-to-late June in areas with higher vaccine enthusiasm where vaccines became easily available by early May).

In terms of schools, the availability of vaccine for age 12+ should mean that (approximately) 7th grade and higher students should be able to get vaccinated if they want by the fall term of school.

That only leaves (approximately) 6th grade and lower students, and the small number of people with medical contraindications who will be involuntarily unvaccinated by the fall term of school.

Schools may have to figure out accommodations for those with medical contraindications, but it is unlikely that people in general will accept continued social distancing and masking requirements once everyone else who is unvaccinated is voluntarily unvaccinated (and hence taking the risk and responsibility of COVID-19 themselves rather than imposing it on others).

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Governors (and individual municipalities) are free to ignore CDC guidelines, which have no legal force. For example, in MA last week the governor dropped the outdoor mask requirement; however, some towns chose to retain it. I expect the indoor mask mandate to be treated the same way. I do think, however, that it will be increasingly difficult to maintain it without suffering political consequences.

I have concerns that my employer will not require students to be vaccinated in the fall. I am not worried for myself (I am vaccinated), but I don’t want to work at a college that students choose to attend just because they don’t wan’t to get vaccinated. I am concerned that my employer will continue an indoor mask mandate out of an “abundance of caution” even though it impacts the quality of teaching and learning. I have no problem with people wearing masks indoors if they wish; I just don’t want to be made to do so if I am not at risk and pose no risk to others.

In our area, there are loads of spots available and anyone that wants a vaccination could be ready for their second by now. I understand that could be different somewhere else but from what I have been reading it seems like it is true in much of the country?

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Where I am, where there is a high level of vaccine enthusiasm, easy availability started happening in late April to early May. This means that someone who was unable to get a vaccine before, but got it in the time frame from then until now (mid May) will be fully vaccinated by:

  • now to late May if J&J - Janssen
  • early-to-mid June if Pfizer - BioNTech
  • mid-to-late June if Moderna

Of course, those in the 12-15 age group are just now able to get the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine, so those who want it can probably be fully vaccinated by late June to early July, although having to seek a specific vaccine (rather than any available one) may delay this time frame somewhat.

Our hs already sent an email saying no change to mask requirements in the schools at this time as the state hasn’t changed any guidance. I’m thinking with only two weeks of school left (2 days for my son) they won’t change anything prior to the end of the school year in our district.

My issue is how does anyone know who is or isn’t vaccinated? There’s still some risk when in large groups and close together. You can’t just assume someone is vaccinated because they don’t have a mask on. And if I had young kids I would really be concerned since they can’t be vaccinated and there is still a risk to them. But there’s nothing that says someone doesn’t have to wear a mask if they choose to. Afterall, the flu was almost non existent this winter as a result of masks and that’s good news that came out of this.

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I thought that two weeks after the first vaccine you are eighty to ninety percent covered? Is it really so necessary to keep it closed til everyone can get the second shot? Apparently the CDC thinks it is not.

The young ones are hardly affected in any case. Nice they are getting the shots but it was never really that dangerous to the overwhelming majority of them.


It isn’t nearly that high. Some studies indicate it’s about 70% or so and some others claim just over 50%. No one really knows.

This page has this image in the interactive graphic.

Note the part at the bottom which shows “Blocking of Binding of Receptor-Binding Domain to ACE2”. The left side shows pre-vaccination, while the right side shows three weeks after the first dose of a two dose vaccine. The brown dots indicate those who have no history of infection, while the blue dots indicate those who have recent history of infection, and the green dots show evidence of infection that was undiagnosed at the time.

Note both previous infection or the first dose produced highly variable blocking of the receptor binding domain to ACE2, while previous infection plus first dose produced very strong blocking of the receptor binding domain to ACE2 (except for apparently one unlucky person with a very weak immune response). The highly variable response to the first dose is presumably why the second dose is specified for these vaccines. Also, even those with previous infection would benefit from getting vaccinated.

Not only should all 12&up be fully vaxd who want to be , before fall, it is very likely 6mos-11yo will be approved by fall as well, maybe not by July/August but by hopefully by Sept at the latest I bet. There is definitely a big push to get the data and get ready so all school-aged children are “vaccinatable” before the start of school.
Full Fda approval should be soon and well in time before the school year, and that will help get numbers up as that is a large sticking point for many parents(despite the huge amount of data indicating it is safe, the “EUA” gives some people pause).


I teach college and my students are adults; if they want the vaccine, they can get it. If they choose not to get it, they have the responsibility for the risks they are taking and cannot expect vaccinated people to wear masks for their comfort when vaccinated people pose negligible transmission risks, as we now know. But I absolutely understand the concern re younger children.

I don’t have any problem with people wearing masks if they choose. I do not want a requirement to wear masks if you are vaccinated because it absolutely affects working conditions and teaching effectiveness when you are lecturing, etc. I get a flu shot annually (my employer offers a free clinic) and I’m sure I’ll be getting a Covid shot every year too. I think that’s something that people who live and work in congregate settings like colleges and universities are just going to have to do if they don’t want to get sick.

I am also rethinking class attendance requirements/grading. I will no longer give outright credit for attendance because it creates a negative incentive to come to class sick. I will also be missing more class myself, because I frequently showed up to teach when I was mildly ill before the pandemic (cancelling class is a giant pain and messes up your plans). We will all need to adjust expectations.