At least 38 law schools will require students to be vaccinated in order to return to campus this fall.
ABA-accredited law schools including Yale, Stanford, Columbia, New York University, Georgetown, George Washington, the University of Pennsylvania, Emory, and the University of Michigan have all implemented vaccination requirements for students, Law.com reports.
“There is abundant evidence of the vaccines’ effectiveness and growing confidence that vaccines will be widely available by early summer,” Yale President Peter Salovey says in an official letter to students. “Therefore, we are requiring all undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students who plan to be on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the start of the fall 2021 semester. Additionally, we expect students who plan to study or work on campus this summer to be inoculated as soon as vaccinations are available to them.”
While school officials say that there hasn’t been much student pushback on the vaccine mandate, there are certain exemptions and opt-outs to the requirement.
Exemptions typically fall under two categories: medical and religious, with the former often times being more controversial.
According to Bloomberg Law, six states currently reject religious exemptions including Connecticut, California, New York, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Maine.
“Because students are required to comply with an array of rules as a condition of matriculating at a post-secondary school, they are more likely than faculty or staff to be subject to Covid-19 vaccine,” Eric A. Feldman, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, writes. “Students live in close quarters, socialize in large groups, sit in crowded classrooms, and often have family in other states, which is why they have caused super-spreader events.”
HOW VACCINES WILL BE VERIFIED?
The vaccine rollout has varied across the U.S., with many states having different protocols and qualifications.
As such, law schools may have difficulty officially verifying students’ vaccine statuses. According to Feldman, verification may largely be based on honor code.
“Schools may require students to sign affidavits, and they could designate dishonest reporting of vaccine status as an honor code violation,” Feldman writes for Bloomberg Law. “They could also insist that students submit proof of vaccination, though without an official vaccine registry the issue of what constitutes proof will remain problematic.”