Colleges and universities in Western North Carolina vary when it comes to deciding whether students should be required to get a Covid-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall.
The region’s largest universities -- Western Carolina University and the University of North Carolina-Asheville -- have both decided against mandating the vaccine. The UNC system president Peter Hans last month released a three-page memo citing legal and “vaccine hesitancy” concerns, but said they would continue a “robust” plan to increase vaccinations.
Meantime, smaller liberal arts colleges, like Brevard College and Warren Wilson, are decidedly in favor of a vaccine mandate. Paul Perrine is vice president for student life at Warren Wilson.
“In person, full-student is really core to our educational model, so this vaccination will help us get to that point," Perrine said. "We would anticipate there will still be guidelines, whether that’s some level of mask requirement or distancing may be in place, and we’re prepared for that.”
Perrine says the goal is to return to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. Students can waive the requirement for medical or religious reasons.
Lenoir Rhyne University in Hickory is still on the fence. A spokesperson for the private university says it’s working with the Catawba County Health Department to draft a policy for the fall semester.
AB Tech says while vaccines aren’t required, the community college is strongly urging students to get vaccinated and like some schools, has a free Covid-19 vaccination site on campus.