August 3, 2021
A new statement organized by the American College Health Association and signed by more than two dozen higher education organizations decries state-level restrictions barring colleges from requiring vaccination against COVID-19 or other public health measures such as mask wearing or surveillance testing. The statement describes such restrictions as “dangerous” and calls on government authorities “to empower colleges and universities to use every available public health tool to protect campuses and neighboring communities from a COVID-19 surge this fall.”
The statement, released Monday, notes that many of the state-level restrictions “directly contradict” guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“State actions that prevent the use of established and effective public health tools at the same time as COVID-19 cases increase is a recipe for disaster,” the statement says.
“These restrictions undermine the ability of all organizations, including colleges and universities, to operate safely and fully at a time of tremendous unpredictability. Furthermore, these restrictions prohibit higher education institutions from taking responsible and reasonable public health measures and ultimately threaten the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and neighboring communities.”
The statement comes as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads, COVID-19 cases increase nationally and colleges increasingly introduce or broaden vaccination requirements and reimpose mask mandates. But even as more than 600 colleges nationwide have mandated COVID-19 vaccination for students or employees, colleges in a number of Republican-controlled states find themselves hamstrung by laws or executive orders restricting their ability to require vaccines or other public health measures.