‘Great decision’: Johnson C. Smith latest Charlotte-area college to require students to be fully vaccinated

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 4:22 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Johnson C. Smith is requiring its students to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus next fall.

The college announced Monday that, in order to return to the school grounds next fall, students must have had either the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccination or the two shots of Pfizer or Moderna.

To be fully vaccinated from COVID-19, two weeks must have passed since the last vaccination shot.

Johnson C. Smith has roughly 1,300 students.

School officials say that requiring the vaccination is the way to get back to normalcy and getting students and staff back on campus safely.

The fall semester at Johnson C. Smith starts on August 16.

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the campus.

Homecoming was virtual and classes stayed remote.

“It was a little difficult, but after a while got used to it,” said student Whittney Barringer.

According to the school’s website, in order to return to campus for the fall 2021 semester, your vaccination process must be completed by Friday, July 30.

If students intend to participate in any summer activities on campus, then your vaccination due date is even earlier, two weeks before your physical arrival to campus.

Verification of your vaccination experience will be determined by one of the following:

  • Providing a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card that will be kept in your health records in Health Services; or,
  • Including vaccination verification, as evidenced by a doctor or vaccination clinic, as a part of your regular Health Immunization Form submission to Health Services

If you have questions or concerns about this requirement (i.e., need to request a medical or religious exemption), then contact Dr. Marian Jones, Director of Health Services, at or 704-378-1074.

“It will feel a lot better knowing everyone has it,” Barringer said.

“I thought it was a great decision,” said Johnson C. Smith student Theodore Castro.

“I understand it in a way because we have a lot more older faculty and staff,” added student Nadia Marie Johnson.

JCSU officials said they talked to health experts and other colleges and universities before deciding.

In the heart of Charlotte’s Beatties Ford Road, and as a well-respected historically black university, students say this could also help combat vaccine hesitancy.

While not everyone is on board, the university says they’re working with those who have concerns.

Students can be exempt for religious and medical reasons.

“Being on campus, back in the classroom, being able to communicate with your friends,” Castro said.

“Just being able to have my last year on campus after everything I been through, we’ve been through, it’s going to be pretty exciting,” Johnson said.

Johnson C. Smith joins Johnson & Wales as Charlotte schools requiring their students to be fully vaccinated before returning to school in the fall.

Last week, Johnson & Wales University (JWU) announced it 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.

Livingstone College will also require its students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall.

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