‘How can they do that?’ Students react as Johnson & Wales requires COVID-19 vaccinations for students in fall

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:03 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Johnson & Wales University (JWU) will require all students to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to their arrival to campus for the fall semester.

The university says the decision was made after careful consultation with government and public health officials.

“Adding the COVID-19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will aid our efforts to provide a safer and more robust college experience for our entire JWU community,” said JWU Charlotte Campus President Cheryl Richards, Ph.D. “Through widespread vaccination, we hope to return to a more traditional college experience, including seamless delivery of in-person courses, more on-campus events and activities, and resuming our on-campus visitor and guest policy. We look forward to more normal times as the JWU community and those around us become fully vaccinated.”

With a lot of hands-on culinary activities, Dr. Richards said this decision was not an easy one to make.

“Students at many of the colleges and universities around the country, there are required vaccines that you have to have. This is just another one of those that will be added to the mix,” she said.

Consideration will be given to students requesting an exemption from this requirement for medical, religious or other reasons.

Students enrolled in fully-remote online degree programs and individuals participating in online-only continuing education programs will not be required to be vaccinated unless they come to campus to use the dining, library, fitness center, and other facilities and services.

The university continues to strongly encourage all staff and faculty, especially those whose work requires them to be on campus, to be vaccinated for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

In March, the university announced its intention to return to full operations in the fall, inviting all students back to campus, with courses being offered in-person as well as through hybrid delivery.

While some are welcoming this news, other students say they don’t want to be a part of the mix.

“My initial reaction was like, how can they do that? I felt like it was overstepping on our rights a little bit,” student Riley Turner said.

Turner, who is going into her second year, said getting vaccinated was not on her to-do list this summer.

She’s now weighing her options.

“After getting the email, all my friends are like they don’t want this vaccine,” Turner said.

JWU joins Livingstone College as the only schools in our area to require vaccination.

“I love this school, I really do,” Turner said. “I’ve made friends for family already there. I’m home there. I love it there. I don’t like how my education is being put over my head, like the vaccine is whatever, you know?”

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