CDC: Fully vaccinated campuses can mostly drop coronavirus safety measures

Dive Brief:

  • Colleges whose students and employees are all fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can resume in-person classes at full capacity, according to new guidance Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

  • The agency said campuses without entirely vaccinated populations should use prevention strategies, such as mask-wearing and physical distancing. 

  • Vaccines are the best method of preventing the spread of coronavirus, the CDC said, and colleges should try to promote and increase access to them.

Dive Insight:

Colleges can play a big role in boosting vaccine uptake among their students and employees, the CDC said. They can provide the shots on campus through mass vaccination clinics or smaller venues, as well as helping host off-site services. The agency said institutions should consider offering multiple locations and times for vaccinations that accommodate various work and academic schedules.

The CDC said colleges can tap “trusted messengers,” such as students and alumni, to encourage others to get vaccinated. Institutions can also feature athletes and student leaders in campaigns meant to build confidence in the vaccine, the CDC said.

Behavioral experts suggested earlier in the pandemic that colleges try such tactics to help promote mask-wearing. 

For campuses whose students and employees haven’t all gotten the shots, the CDC suggests considering mitigation measures. Administrators can promote physical distancing, as well as correct and consistent indoor mask-wearing, which is still advised for those who haven’t been fully vaccinated. Officials can also publicize good hand and respiratory hygiene.

These schools should also work with local health officials to craft testing regimens, the CDC states. It notes that only those who aren’t fully vaccinated need to be tested for the coronavirus, unless a vaccinated person is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Other recommendations include limiting the size of gatherings if some people on a campus aren’t vaccinated, and postponing study abroad programs in countries with high levels of the virus. 

Colleges are still in the midst of planning for the next academic year and the safety protocols they’ll use. At least 470 campuses are requiring the vaccine for at least some students and employees, according to a count kept by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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