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Most local colleges won’t require students to have COVID vaccine this fall

COVID-19 Vaccine being administered.
COVID-19 Vaccine being administered.
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - With age requirements for the COVID-19 vaccines continuing to open up, some colleges in the U.S., including Duke University, are requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for students returning to campus this fall.

However, schools in the Red River Valley are taking the opposite approach.

“Our plan is that we will not be requiring vaccinations for employees or for students,” Kirsten Jensen, MSUM’s Chief Marketing Officer said.

And that decision stands for both the Minnesota State School system, which includes MSUM, Bemidji State and all of the local tech schools, as well as the North Dakota University System, which includes NDSU, UND, NDSCS, Mayville State and Valley City State.

“But we’re still highly encouraging students and we’re celebrating with them when they have a chance to get a vaccine,” Jensen said.

“We certainly want to get back to a fall semester that looks as close to pre-covid conditions as possible. So, we continue to have conversations with folks about the testing that’s available, as well as what we need to do to reduce and mitigate the spread,” UND Vice President Cara Halgren said.

NDUS Vice Chancellor of Strategy Jerry Rostad says currently, students applying or enrolled in an NDUS institution are only required to have three immunizations.

“Two doses of an MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), a dose of Meningitis vaccination and a complete Tuberculosis screening,” Rostad said. He says students can be exempt from those vaccines for both medical and religious reasons, and says the same would go for the COVID-19 shot if it were to be required.

Rostad says a vaccination mandate would have to come from the health department and legislators. He added schools within the NDUS system will not be able to stray and make their own individual vaccine mandates.

“We have to remember that currently, the covid vaccine is adopted for emergency use vaccination. So, the FDA would have to approve it for general vaccination,” Rostad explained.

However, Rostad says private institutions like Concordia College and the University of Jamestown could, and are able to mandate immunizations for their students.

When reached by Valley News Live, both the University of Jamestown Concordia officials say they are still in the planning process regarding vaccine mandates, and say at this time it’s unclear when a decision will be made.

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