Westfield State University to require students to get COVID-19 vaccine

The Westfield State University campus. (WESTFIELD STATE UNIVERSITY PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – Westfield State University students returning to campus this fall will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University joins eight other Massachusetts state universities in this requirement. All students must receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to the Western Avenue campus for fall 2021 in-person classes or on-campus housing and activities.

According to a press release, “the presidents of the nine state universities unanimously decided to require undergraduate and graduate students who are attending in-person classes, conducting research on campus, living in residence halls, or participating in campus life activities to become fully inoculated with an FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to the start of the academic year in September.”

Faculty and staff are also expected to be fully vaccinated.

“Prior to the beginning of the fall semester and following state, federal and legal guidance, the Massachusetts state universities will require all students to be fully immunized before returning to campus in September,” said Dr. James F. Birge, president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and chair of the Massachusetts State University Council of Presidents.

Keeping everyone on campus healthy is the priority, said Westfield State Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D..

“The mandate for on-campus students will assist Westfield State to ensure the health and safety of our full campus community while mitigating the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in our greater community,” said Saigo.

Massachusetts state universities have been leaders in the Stop the Spread Campaign and throughout the year have made COVID-19 testing and tracing a priority on our campuses, states the release. Since returning to campus last year, the nine state universities have operationalized a robust on-campus COVID testing and tracing system for students, staff, and faculty, which successfully resulted in helping to identify and contain the COVID virus in our campus communities. The state universities are committed to ending this pandemic with vigilance towards vaccinating our campus communities.

“We continue to be encouraged by the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the steady increase in numbers of those across Massachusetts and throughout New England getting vaccinated,” said Saigo.

Westfield State students were tested weekly since September 2020 and positive cases were relatively low, with a recent high of 31 students testing positive in mid-March. Four of those students resided in Davis Hall, which was placed in quarantine for several days.

Last week, one student tested positive. The University reported three staff members tested positive this semester.

In a statement last week, Saigo said students returning to campus would be “strongly encouraged” to get vaccinated. The vaccination requirement was announced April 26.


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