WATERVILLE — Thomas College is now mandating that all in-person students, faculty, and staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vaccination announcement came from the school’s president Wednesday morning.
In July, the school said it would not require the vaccine for in-person individuals, but did strongly encourage everyone at the school to get the vaccine as soon as they could.
Thomas College Provost Thomas Edwards said the reason for this change in policy is the rising COVID-19 cases across the state and because vaccinated individuals can also get and spread the virus.
“We had hoped we would be further along with containing the virus than we are right now,” said Edwards
Edwards said the vaccination rates for faculty and staff are somewhere between 75 and 85 percent but not as high for students.
“We are probably in the range of about 58 percent for our resident students,” Edwards said. “We think part of that is because we haven’t gotten the documentation yet.”
He said there will be a very limited number of exceptions for medical and religious reasons.
If a student decides not to get the vaccine they may be able to take classes online, or they may not be allowed to return to school at all.
“If they are saying they do not believe it’s effective or that it’s not safe,” Edwards said. “We believe that’s at odds with what the medical community is telling us.”
Edwards said those who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask.
However, he said they are constantly in communication with the Centers for Disease Control so policies are subject to change on the severity of the virus.