New Guidance for Vaccinated Individuals and Vaccination Requirement for Fall

To: W&L Students, Faculty, and Staff
From:  President Will Dudley
Date:   May 21, 2021

As we approach the end of the term, I want to thank each of you for your commitment to one another and our community over the past year. We are fortunate to have completed the entire year on campus, and to be able to celebrate with in-person Commencement exercises for both our law and undergraduate students. It has not been easy, and I am grateful for the resilience, flexibility, and creativity each of you has demonstrated throughout the year.

New Guidance for Vaccinated Individuals

We are ending Spring Term with no active cases on campus which is likely due in part to many members of our campus community having received a COVID-19 vaccine. I'm pleased to announce that based on new state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, effective Mon., May 24, the university will no longer require fully vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings or maintain a six-foot distance from others. The change applies both indoors and outdoors, except in the Student Health Center where individuals should continue to wear masks, and in the fitness center, where face coverings and distancing are still required. Employees in specific departments may still need to continue to wear face coverings in some situations. Department directors will communicate more information to those affected.

Those who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others indoors and outdoors, and wear face coverings at all times, unless outdoors, stationary, and more than six feet apart. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen).

Those in attendance at next week’s undergraduate Commencement will still need to maintain physical distancing, but fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear a face covering at the ceremony. More information about Commencement can be found on the Commencement webpage.

COVID-19 Vaccination to Be Required for All Students, Faculty, and Staff

While many of our students, faculty, and staff have elected to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, nearly 30% of our campus community remains unvaccinated at this time. The American College Health Association recently recommended that colleges require all students on campus to receive a vaccine, calling it “the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students in fall semester 2021.”

To protect the health of the community and achieve such an experience on our campus this fall, the university will require all students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 8, 2021. Our expectation is that requiring vaccinations will allow us to return to campus without distancing and masking, with all in-person instruction in classrooms at normal occupancy, and with other activities such as dining, performing arts, clubs and organizations returning to more normal in-person operations.

It will be important that the university have accurate data on the extent of community protection to make informed decisions about safe operations. To that end, we ask that:

Returning students email a photo or scan of their completed vaccination card to by July 31.

Faculty and staff working on campus upload a photo or scan of their completed vaccination card to Workday by July 31. Additional information and instructions for employees will be provided in a Return to the Workplace Guide that will be sent in a separate email from Human Resources.

Individuals may seek a medical or religious exemption to the vaccination requirement. Students should email to request a form, which must be submitted by June 15. Faculty and staff should email Kim Austin in Human Resources to request a form, which must be submitted by June 30.

Please note that to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 8, individuals need to receive the first dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) around June 27 and the second dose by July 25, or receive a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) by July 25.

The Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) has a few remaining Pfizer and Moderna clinics scheduled at the former Peebles/Gordmans site in Lexington on May 25, June 1, June 8, June 15, and June 22 (Moderna only). These are the last large clinics being held by CSHD in our area. To schedule an appointment, go to Walk-ins are welcome as vaccine supply allows. The vaccination information page on the COVID-19 Resources website provides a list of additional places to get the vaccine in our area.

As we reflect on the past year, and all the ways in which operating during a pandemic affected campus life, we look forward to returning to a more vibrant, “normal” experience this fall. We will continue to provide updates as we finalize details in the coming months.

Thank you again for all you have done to make this past year a success, and have a wonderful summer.