Student vaccinations for 2021-22 academic year

Message sent on May 20, 2021

President Bob Iuliano announces that vaccines will be required for students in the 2021-22 school year.

Dear Members of the Gettysburg College Community,

I hope your spring semesters concluded successfully and that the early days of summer are off to a good start.

In March, I wrote to the community announcing that we would be returning to a residential, in-person experience for the Fall 2021 semester. In my conversations with students, faculty, staff, and parents since the announcement, I have heard just how much this decision has meant to so many of you. The past 15 months have been challenging. I know we are all eagerly looking forward to a fall semester in which our personal interactions with one another—those that help give the fullest meaning to our Gettysburg experience—can occur with as few COVID-related constraints as possible.

The surest way to create a more traditional learning environment on campus in the 2021-22 academic year is to ensure Gettysburg College students are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. I am writing today to inform you of the College’s decision to require every Gettysburg student to be vaccinated, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. You will receive a message from College Life in the near future providing additional details about Gettysburg College’s vaccination requirement, which includes information about how to seek a medical or religious-based exemption, documentation requirements, and timing expectations.

Over the course of the past year, we have seen the extraordinary steps that every college and university has needed to implement to create a safe residential environment for its students with COVID-19 still prevalent in society. These have included reducing the total number of people on campus, placing limits on gatherings, regular testing, physical distancing, and heightened enforcement rubrics. We know that these constraints have affected the overall experience of our students. A vaccinated student body will permit us to eliminate as many of these constraints as possible, and it will allow you—our students—to have a more normal college experience.

A vaccinated student body also helps our residential community to meet one of its most fundamental obligations: looking out for one another’s well-being. We know that there will be some students who cannot be vaccinated, including because of underlying health conditions. Broad student vaccination is an important way to reduce the risk to those classmates. We will also be doing our part to help protect vulnerable residents of the Borough and Adams County.

For those of you who follow trends in higher education, you know that this same decision has been made by hundreds of colleges and universities across the country. It is also the guidance from the American College Health Association (ACHA), whose mission is to “advanc[e] the health of college students and campus communities.” As the ACHA noted, the “resumption of continuity in the academic, extracurricular, and residential experience will, once again, enhance students’ personal, professional, and academic growth.”

We recognize that not everyone will agree with this decision. We are persuaded, however, that this is the most appropriate step for our entire community.

For students who would rather defer any decision about vaccination, we will automatically grant a leave of absence if requested. Please note that we do not currently anticipate being in a position to offer a remote curriculum next year.

As we have vividly witnessed over the past year, we are at our best when we are together and able to learn from one another, lean on one another for support, and enjoy one another’s friendship and camaraderie. We are eagerly anticipating a return to the rhythms and traditions that make this such a special community, and the decision we have announced today is an essential step in that direction.

Thank you,

Bob Iuliano