Fifteen community college presidents, members of the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges, announced that their institutions have no plans to require students or employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“It is essential that we meet the needs of all of our students, who are often from the communities hit hardest by this pandemic and facing disproportionate access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” the presidents said in a statement released Tuesday by the association. “And now, it is more important than ever to prioritize equity, and creating additional barriers for our students would go against our critically important mission of open access for all.”
Nonetheless, the campus leaders said they “strongly urge” students, faculty members and staff to get vaccinated. All Massachusetts residents, ages 16 and up, became eligible for the vaccine as of Monday.
“Widespread vaccinations and continued safety precautions will allow our colleges to safely repopulate our campuses and continue to offer the high-quality education that our students want and deserve,” the statement read. “As we have shown throughout this pandemic, campus planning will always be guided, first and foremost, by the health and safety of our entire college community.”
The announcement comes amid a stream of others from higher education institutions, clarifying whether students need to be vaccinated ahead of the upcoming fall semester. This week, George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; Lehigh University in Pennsylvania; and Yale University in Connecticut all issued vaccine mandates.
In Massachusetts, multiple universities are requiring student vaccinations, including Boston University, Northeastern University and Assumption University.