All on-campus students and employees at Utica College will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for the 2021 fall semester.

U-C Emergency Management Director Shad Crowe joined the Keeler in the Morning Show on WIBX 950 to discuss the school's plan moving forward. Crowe says the belief is it will allow for a 'full return to everything', to include sports teams, sports games, other events and student gatherings.

''The last two semesters have not been fun for college students, it definitely wasn't a traditional college experience. We didn't allow students to congregate in any way, shape of form, constantly social distancing - anytime someone broke those COVID protocols there were consequences, many of them were sent home and referred to an online curriculum, which is challenging in and of itself. The only way forward for us...looking at the science and what other institutions have done...was to get our entire campus community vaccinated,'' Crowe said. ''We want them to be safe, that's our priority.''

There are exemptions for religious and medical reasons, he said. Also, the hope is there will be no mask requirements at Utica College, provided some 80-90% of the campus is vaccinated, he said.

There has been some pushback, but many times any issues raised over the requirement are eased after school officials explain the reasoning and the benefits, Crowe explained, adding that this requirement is similar to the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, Rubella).

Whether or not the mandate will effect student enrollment is unclear, Crowe said, citing the same requirements at Le Moyne, St John Fischer and Nazareth - all who've seen increased enrollment numbers, he said.

SUNY Schools, St. Lawrence, Ithaca, Hamilton, Colgate, Hartwick, and Syracuse Universities are among many others who are also requiring students to be vaccinated.

''The best way to try to return to a traditional college can be so much more fun and fulfilling [than it's been]...and we want them to experience a true college experience,'' Crowe said.

The Fall Semester at Utica College begins on August 30.

For more on the policy, see this letter from UC President Laura Casamento.

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