Vaccination Requirements for Fall

Dear Methodist University Community,

As we move through summer toward the beginning of the 2021 Fall Semester, we have had many conversations at Methodist University about how to have as normal a semester as possible, while also continuing to keep our university community safe from COVID-19.

Although COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined lately, the virus is not finished with the United States yet. There is a much deadlier and much more contagious variant, called the Delta Variant, that is taking hold in the U.S. now and is expected to be the most dominate variant in the country by September. It is causing a greater percentage of hospitalizations, greater need for ventilation, and greater death rate than older variants in the countries where it has established a strong foothold. Also alarming is that it appears to attack young adults more seriously than older variants.

The good news is that vaccination is highly effective in both preventing people from contracting the Delta Variant and in preventing serious illness in the very rare cases where vaccinated people do catch the disease. I have been vaccinated, as have most members of my family. I feel much safer and more relaxed in public settings because of that. I have begun flying again, eating out, attending conferences, etc. I applaud any of you who have been vaccinated already, and I strongly urge everyone who has not been vaccinated to do so soon.

Because COVID-19 vaccines have only received emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so far, Methodist University will not require vaccination this fall. However, all students, faculty, and staff coming to the campus for the fall semester will be required to do one of the following two things: 

  1. Upload a CDC vaccination card (more information on how to do this will follow soon), showing that they are fully vaccinated, or
  2. If unvaccinated, produce negative results of a PCR COVID-19 test that are no more than 72 hours old before the first day of returning to campus in the fall.

Also:

  1. Fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff will not be required to wear masks or to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus. In addition, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to be tested unless they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. Fully vaccinated student-athletes also will not be required to wear masks, to be regularly tested (unless they have symptoms), or to quarantine if they are exposed.
  3. For those who choose not to be vaccinated, there will continue to be a variety of required health and safety protocols, which will be explained in a later email. They will include a requirement to wear masks indoors, to be tested on some regular basis, and to quarantine for 14 days if they are exposed. We are still working on a detailed message about the specific requirements for unvaccinated individuals, which will be released within one week. Those requirements will comply fully with CDC, NC Department of Health and Human Services, and Cumberland County Health Department recommendations and requirements. All requirements for unvaccinated individuals will be intended to keep our community safe, which is my top obligation as president.

More information will follow very soon about how to upload vaccination cards. If you have already been fully vaccinated, please upload your card as soon as you receive instructions on how to do it. It will be very useful to MU to know soon how many members of our community have already been fully vaccinated. If you have not been fully vaccinated but still intend to do so, I encourage you to start the process immediately so that you have time to be fully vaccinated before the beginning of fall semester.

If the COVID-19 vaccines receive full FDA approval, it is very likely that MU will require them, with exemptions for medical and religious purposes.

Thank you for helping keep MU safe and open for as normal a fall semester as possible!

Sincerely,

Stanley T. Wearden, Ph.D. 
President