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Live Updates Archive: Aug. 2020 - Oct. 2021 COVID-19 and Higher Education

Penn Announces Punishments for Students Who Didn’t Vaccinate

Oct. 29, 6:22 a.m. The University of Pennsylvania announced that it will prevent students from early registration for spring classes and block access to campus buildings if they fail to comply with COVID-19 immunization and testing requirements, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

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Yale Raises Risk Level to 'Low to Moderate Risk'

Yale University raised its risk level for coronavirus to yellow, signifying "low to moderate risk, reflecting public health conditions and the emergence of Omicron."

Among the changes:

  • Those with a weekly testing requirement were asked to get a second test this week.
  • Those without a testing requirement are encouraged to test twice this week.
  • Students were told to avoid travel for the rest of the semester and choose delivery or pick-up options versus off-campus, in person dining.
  • Students were told to avoid large indoor gatherings that are not university sponsored.
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U of Tennessee Flip-Flops (Again) on Vaccine, Mask Mandates

The University of Tennessee system has reversed direction (again) on mask and vaccine mandates. The university said that masks and vaccines are not required, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

System president Randy Boyd announced the change Wednesday. He also encouraged all employees to get vaccinated. “As new strains of COVID-19 continue to appear, I strongly urge all UT employees who have not been vaccinated to once again consider getting vaccinated,” Boyd said.

The announcements follow the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office reversing itself on about 70 entities in Tennessee having the power to retain their own mask or vaccine mandates—a power previously granted under the state’s new sweeping ban on COVID-19 regulations.

The controller acted following two federal court injunctions against President Biden’s executive order on federal contractors being required to get vaccinated.

Last month, Boyd announced that there was no longer a mask mandate. But the next day, the chancellor of the Knoxville campus wrote that a mandate would remain on campus because of Biden’s executive order.

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Kansas AG: Universities Are Violating Law on COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions

Kansas attorney general Derek Schmidt has notified the Board of Regents that some public universities are violating a state law passed last week that loosened requirements for obtaining medical and religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccinations, the Associated Press reported.

Schmidt said “at least some” public universities are violating the new law. He specifically mentioned the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, to which he sent copies of his letter. He said the institutions must “immediately cease and desist” from their requirements.

The new law says employers must grant religious exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for workers who seek one in writing. The law bars employers from investigating the sincerity of the person’s religious beliefs.

A University of Kansas spokeswoman said Tuesday that the university has updated its forms and processes to comply with state law. Kansas State University did not respond to a request for comment.

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Syracuse Adds New Safety Measures

Syracuse University on Monday announced new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

“Over the holiday, news spread of a newly identified COVID variant, the impact of which is currently being studied across the globe. Syracuse University continues to closely monitor campus and local public health conditions, including issues and concerns related to this new variant,” said a letter from the university to all students and employees. “Prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, despite the university’s very low level of COVID transmission and infection within our campus community, the Public Health Team considered several scenarios to support a safe return to campus. With that scenario planning in mind, today the university implemented several proactive actions to identify and respond to any changes in COVID transmission levels on campus attributable to the holiday break.”

Among the action taken by Syracuse:

  • Conducting enhanced wastewater testing of on-campus residence halls and select other buildings.
  • Expanding the percentage of the campus population (in all categories, including students, staff and faculty) selected for random testing. The university said, “This action, combined with enhanced wastewater testing, will give us increased insight into the level of infection in the university community, and, if necessary, inform the best response.”
  • Continuing to require wearing masks indoors at all times and outdoors when in the presence of others or in a group.
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Princeton Raises Its Risk Level to ‘Moderate to High’

Princeton University on Saturday raised its coronavirus risk level to “moderate to high.”

The university cited “a surge in cases among undergraduate students, coupled with increased case rates in the area.”

Princeton is requiring all undergraduates to submit a COVID-19 test as soon as they return to the campus from Thanksgiving break.

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Boston College Postpones 2 Men’s Hockey Games

Boston College has postponed men’s hockey games against the University of Notre Dame this Friday and Harvard University next Tuesday.

The college said the decision was made to comply with “COVID-19 protocols and out of an abundance of caution.”

Boston College is working with the two universities to reschedule the games.

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Boston College Postpones 2 Men’s Hockey Games
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Michigan Students Rally Against Vaccination Requirements

Students from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and other campuses in the state rallied in Lansing against vaccine mandates for students, WILX News reported.

A Michigan State student, PJ Serati, said, “People should have the right to make that decision. A lot of our critics tell us, ‘Hey you have the right to choose a different school, you have the right to quit your job, you have the right to go somewhere else, move to a different country.’ That is not the United States. The United States allows for the individual to benefit, not the institution.”

However, polls have shown that most students support the vaccine mandates.

Another Michigan State student, who wasn’t at the rally, Haleigh Colombo, said, “America is set up in a system where we have to have these kinds of regulations for the greater good, and even if it isn’t something you enjoy, it’s better for the entire state as a whole.”

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Registration Down 44% for Brazilian College-Entrance Exam

Registration for Brazil’s college-entrance exam is down 44 percent from last year, the lowest level since 2006, the Associated Press reported.

Fear of COVID-19 is seen as the reason for the decline.

The exam takes more than five hours and is given over two weekends. It started Sunday. The test is the primary admission standard for Brazilian universities.

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Registration Down 44% for Brazilian College-Entrance Exam

Registration for Brazil’s college-entrance exam is down 44 percent from last year, the lowest level since 2006, the Associated Press reported.

Fear of COVID-19 is seen as the reason for the decline.

The exam takes more than five hours and is given over two weekends. It started Sunday. The test is the primary admission standard for Brazilian universities.

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Registration Down 44% for Brazilian College-Entrance Exam
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