Eastern Mennonite University is requiring that all students attending classes in-person on our main campus in Harrisonburg, Va., show proof of vaccination for COVID-19 before arriving on campus or beginning classes for the fall semester 2021, or to file a valid waiver on medical, religious or philosophical grounds.
Last year, we asked students, faculty and staff to protect each other and the community with strict adherence to masking and social distancing. We’re so grateful that this year we have another option to keep our community safe.
Vaccines have been shown effective at preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19. They have also been shown to be effective against variants. They are now widely available at no cost. EMU already asks students to show proof of vaccination for many other health conditions, to which the COVID vaccine has been added.
Consider these benefits if the majority of our campus community are vaccinated:
- Overall shifts in mental health attitudes away from anxiety and fear
- More opportunities to share space safely and in a more “normal” way
- More freedom from masking and social distancing protocols
- Fewer disruptions to dining services and other campus operations
- Less risk of potential disruption to academic activities
- Increased in-person events (concerts, athletic events, etc.), meetings, and social gatherings
- Fewer restrictions for athletes in practice and competitions
- Fewer restrictions to travel on and off campus
- Less need to quarantine-in-place prior to leaving campus for breaks and at the end of the semester to protect those you will come into contact with.
The requirement will lower the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus, lessen potential health-related disruptions to our living and learning environment, and help us return more quickly to college life as we have come to expect it and value it at EMU.
Even with a large percentage of our campus community vaccinated, we recognize that masking and social distancing policies and other public health protocols may be necessary. Still, if most of those we are coming into contact with have been vaccinated, that substantially lowers our collective risk and allows us more flexibility in how we respond to COVID-19 this fall.
We understand you may have questions about what the fall semester looks like or about the vaccine in particular. Please continue below for resources and more information related specifically to vaccines.