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William & Mary considers COVID restrictions for upcoming semester as vaccination data lags

William & Mary sign
Posted at 1:48 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 18:14:09-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - William & Mary is warning students COVID restrictions could be put in place for the fall semester if vaccination data doesn't improve.

The university is requiring students to report their vaccination status prior to returning to campus. In a message to students Monday, the university said 56-percent of students reported being fully vaccinated. Administrators described the numbers as "well below where we expected them to be," but said they hoped the numbers were based on students not reporting yet and not because they aren't vaccinated.

As a result of the current data, the university said it was considering putting COVID restrictions, like mask mandates or vaccination requirements, in place if the numbers don't improve. Students have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to confirm their status.

"We realize this news is especially unwelcome for students, whom we emailed recently to share details about what campus life was anticipated to look like in the fall," the letter reads.

William & Mary is not currently requiring vaccination, but students and staff who are unvaccinated are required to be tested before returning to campus and at least once a week.

Other local schools, like Christopher Newport University, Hampton University, and Norfolk State University, are requiring students and staff to be vaccinated before the fall semester. Meanwhile, ODU is also requiring students to provide proof of their vaccination status. Virginia Wesleyan is requiring vaccines for students and staff. A spokesperson says 100-percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated and so far about 80-percent of students are.

"Protecting public health within the William & Mary and surrounding communities remains a top priority. Our planning must be necessarily flexible and, as it has over the last 18 months, will be based on current health data. Additionally, as you know, the pandemic is a fluid situation and the number of active cases and level of community vaccination will play key roles in implementing our plans," a William & Mary spokesperson said in a statement to News 3.

An update is expected after Wednesday when students have to confirm their vaccination status.