Columbia College, DePaul requiring students to get COVID vaccines for fall semester

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two local colleges will require students returning in the fall to be fully vaccinated against COVID.

The requirement at Columbia College Chicago applies to all students enrolled for the fall semester, even those taking all of their classes online.

Students at Columbia College Chicago were able to get vaccinated Thursday. The college opened a vaccination clinic following the mandate.

"The creative disciplines that we teach here are, you know, like game design, being in studios, music, dance, theater, all of those things really require in-person teaching," said Lambrini Lukidis, Columbia College Chicago spokesperson.

Some students like sophomore Gracie Lubisky, a music major, support the mandate.

"Performance is like a huge component of our major and being in the same room, being in a vicinity collaborating, like those are key elements to my education," Lubisky said.

Freshman Seniyah Tribboe received her first dose Thursday. The dance major said she is anxious to start her sophomore year with in-person classes.

"It was tough being motivated to kind of get up and get on Zoom," Tribboe said.

Any student who arrives not vaccinated will still be able to attend class, but will be required to both begin the vaccination process and test a minimum of once a week when on campus until the vaccination process is complete, the school said.

With some exceptions for international students who are unable to receive the vaccine before arriving on campus, no student can move into the residence halls until they have completed the full vaccination cycle, which is two weeks after having received the second vaccine dose, according to Columbia.

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Starting Thursday, the vaccine will be offered at an on-campus site, approved by the state, using doses supplied by the city.
The college anticipates its initial batch of doses to be the Pfizer vaccine. Future doses may be Moderna or Pfizer.

DePaul University will also mandate that any student planning to be on campus in the fall in any capacity be vaccinated against COVID.

DePaul freshman Miles Baker said he is excited the vaccine will allow him to have a real college experience.

"At first, you know, I was kind of skeptical about getting the vaccine, but then I was like, think of all the things I'm going to be able to do," Baker said.

"Why is DePaul requiring students to be vaccinated? Simply put: safety, mutual care and social responsibility," DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban wrote in email messages to the university community.

DePaul is hosting a vaccine clinic next week for current and admitted students, along with faculty and staff.

Columbia and DePaul said vaccination for faculty and staff will not be required, but will be strongly encouraged. They also said surveys indicate most of their faculty and staff have received or plan on getting the vaccine.

While many students support the mandate, there are some who do not. Both Columbia and DePaul are allowing for some exemptions.

"We've had some students who said that they, you know, have some religious and medical concerns, and we are offering exemptions," Lukidis said.

Columbia and DePaul mandate has been signed off by legal teams, and both schools said the vaccine requirement is all about safety as well as getting students back in class.
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