August 19, 2021
Colleges and universities are wrestling with how to treat, and budget for, unvaccinated students, with a few schools making those students pay to be tested regularly for Covid-19.
At the University of Texas, Austin, the difference between a student vaccination rate of 60% and 80% would cost the school about $4 million to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and treat additional students projected to get infected, the head of the school’s Covid-19 Modeling Consortium said.
If fewer students return to campus vaccinated, the school will spend more on tests, contact tracing, quarantine housing and online classes, said Dr. Lauren Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and data science who directs the consortium. The school recommends vaccines, but state law prevents them from being mandated.
“There are these two different worlds: There’s a world where we do all this mitigation, it’s successful enough that we could actually safely continue school in person and we don’t have to go online,” she said. “Or there’s the world where we don’t do enough to mitigate, or there’s not enough vaccination in the community, and we’re forced to go online, and that incurs additional cost to UT.”