RALEIGH — The return of long lines of cars packed with the essentials for life headed to dormitories and apartments on college and university campuses in North Carolina signals a return to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic.
While moving in is on most students’ minds, a recent report about Rutgers University in New Jersey still requiring students to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination may be on the minds of parents.
A list compiled by the group No College Mandates shows more than 100 colleges nationwide as still requiring students to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
No College Mandates describes itself as “a group of concerned parents, doctors, nurses, professors, students and other college stakeholders working towards the common goal of ending COVID-19 vaccine mandates.”
On No College Mandates’ list were three schools in North Carolina: Bennett College in Greensboro, Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, and Shaw University in Raleigh.
North State Journal reached out to all three schools to see if the list was accurate or if the schools had changed their position on requiring vaccination proof.
Phanalphie F. Rhue, chief global communications and experience officer for Bennett College wrote in an email response to our inquiry that “Covid 19 vaccinations are no longer required for new or returning students at Bennett College” and that the school’s website “is currently being updated to reflect this.”
Similarly, Marion Jones, the director of health and wellness at Johnson C. Smith University, said the shot was no longer required at their institution.
“As a campus community, we continue to take every precaution we can to keep everyone safe,” Jones said in an emailed statement to North State Journal. “Because we have moved away from requiring a previously taken negative COVID-19 test to return to campus and considering recent medical guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our partners at Atrium Health, we have decided to end (at least for the foreseeable future) the University’s COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot mandate for the 2023-24 academic year.
“While we strongly encourage our campus community to manage their personal health by obtaining an initial COVID-19 shot and subsequent boosters, neither will be a requirement nor will anyone be penalized for not doing so. We still remain mask optional. With the new variants that have come out, we encourage our students to continue to practice social distancing, wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and wear a mask if they are sick.”
Jones also said the school has various supplies available for students such as at-home test kits, masks and hand sanitizer, and the university will continue to publish and maintain its COVID-19 dashboard.
Shaw University did not respond by publication time, but as of Aug. 28, the school’s “Student Health Center“ page displays a mandate for proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
The Student Health Center website was last updated in August 2022, however, it still currently states that “all new and transfer students must submit proof of vaccination.”
The website also says all students have to upload a negative PCR test result unless they have a medical or religious exemption, and the school “will not provide housing options for students unless they present a negative test result before check-in.”
The public colleges and universities that are part of the University of North Carolina System did not require vaccination and, per an April 2021 letter, deferred to the N.C. Commission on Public Health as the arbiter of such a mandate.