GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University officials announced recently that, while they encourage returning students, faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it will not be required for the fall semester.
For each of the last six weeks of the 2020-21 academic year, there were five or fewer active cases of COVID-19 connected to the GCU campus, including one week in which there were zero active cases. University officials believe that this is an indication that the voluntary vaccine and testing policies, combined with mitigation efforts on campus, are working.
"We were really encouraged by how we finished out the year," GCU President Brian Mueller said. "There was a certain level of herd immunity that took place inside the campus community."
Mueller said he hopes the momentum continues over the next four or five months, with plans in place to reopen campus without restrictions in the fall.
"We're watching the data and information very carefully, but we’re in a position where I don't think mandates are necessary,” Mueller said. “Individuals can make that decision for themselves and we will have enough vaccines on hand so that any student who wants one can get it during the fall semester."
The American College Health Association has adopted similar guidelines in which it highly recommends that students receive a vaccine but has not recommended that universities make that mandatory.
The University conducted four in-person Commencement ceremonies this week with social distancing and masking requirements, allowing two guests per graduate. The graduating class of approximately 28,000 is the largest class in GCU's history.
The fourth ceremony brought Spring 2020 graduates back to campus. They didn't get a chance to walk last year because of the pandemic lockdown.
“It was a great opportunity for them to walk in front of their parents and get reacquainted with old friends,” Mueller said. “There was a lot of enthusiasm for those students to be back on campus."
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