SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University is joining the list of universities in the Inland Northwest to require COVID-19 vaccines for students on campus during the fall 2021 semester, according to a press release from the university.
"It is our conclusion that reducing opportunities for infection and transmission is the single most significant prerequisite to lifting COVID-related restrictions and returning to a more normal campus life in the fall," President Thayne McCulloh said in a press release on Thursday. "We are planning now for our fall 2021 campus COVID-19 health protocols and knowing that our campus community is vaccinated is a critical element in that process.”
The new regulation will also be required for people who are partly on campus. The university said there will be exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Students in graduate programs that are exclusively online are exempt from the requirement.
The university said there are several reasons for the decision, including Gonzaga's Catholic, Jesuit and humanistic mission that focuses on the common good as well as one's own thriving and development, the university said in the press release.
One of the other reasons is to get back to normal protocol as fast as possible. They want to be in line with state regulations for vaccinations and social distancing.
“It is our understanding that the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is finalizing guidance for higher education, which makes it clear that only campuses with a vaccination requirement for students, faculty and staff will be permitted to eliminate social distancing and other extensive mitigation requirements this fall,” President McCulloh said in the release. “Those who are not immunized will be obligated to follow the University’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies, which include wearing of masks, frequent PCR testing and social distancing.”
The university also intends to follow the new directives from Washington state that requires employers to confirm that employees are fully vaccinated before relaxing social distancing guidelines. They said the university will provide information about vaccinations for employees soon.
Washington State University and Eastern Washington University will also require vaccines in the fall. The University of Idaho and Community Colleges of Spokane will not require vaccines. Whitworth University and North Idaho have not made a decision yet.