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April 24, 2021

Penn, Drexel to require students receive COVID-19 vaccine for fall semester

Both schools said that they will only grant exemptions for medical or religious reasons

Education Colleges
Penn Drexel COVID-19 vaccines Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The University of Pennsylvania said that students who do not receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be prohibited from registering for classes this fall.

The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University both expect to have much larger on-campus presences this fall as more coronavirus vaccines become available across Philadelphia.

In preparation for more students living on campus and participating in in-person learning during the upcoming academic year, both schools said this week that they will require all undergraduate and graduate students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Full-time and part-time students at both institutions should be fully vaccinated before returning to campus in the fall. Drexel is encouraging students to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose no later than two weeks before the fall semester begins.

Documentation showing proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine must be provided to each school. Penn will require documentation by July 1. Drexel students will need to provide proof of vaccination within two weeks of returning to campus. 

But both institutions said that they will provide COVID-19 vaccines to students who are not inoculated upon their return to campus this fall.

Penn students will need to self-quarantine for two weeks after receiving their first dose on campus. Drexel may require students to self-isolate and register a negative COVID-19 test before receiving a vaccine or starting in-person classes.

Among those who will likely need to receive a COVID-19 vaccine upon returning to campus this fall are international students. 

Penn said that guidance will be issued at some point for international students who received COVID-19 vaccines that have not been authorized yet in the U.S.

Drexel said that it will work with international students on getting them vaccinated if they have already received a vaccine not authorized yet in the U.S. before returning to campus.

Penn students who are not vaccinated or who are unable to provide documentation will be prohibited from registering for classes.

Drexel students who refuse to get vaccinated or fail to provide proof of vaccination will be unable to take in-person classes, live on campus, access on-campus facilities or engage in extracurricular activities. Those activities include participating in team sports and working in school facilities.

Exceptions will only be granted for medical or religious reasons, both institutions said. Drexel said that its COVID-19 vaccination requirements will not extend to students not engaging in on-campus activities, such as in-classroom instruction or living in a residence hall. 

However, Drexel said that its online-only students who are not living on campus should still get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination for faculty and staff at both schools is not required, but strongly encouraged at this time. Penn said that guidelines for university employees being vaccinated are under consideration and will be provided soon.

Both institutions cited the safety and effectiveness of the available COVID-19 vaccines and the importance of mass vaccination in creating a safe on-campus environment as their reasons for requiring all students engaging in in-person activities this fall to be vaccinated.

Other schools that are requiring their students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester include Rutgers, Lehigh and Princeton

Some institutions, such as St. Joseph's, Rowan and Stockton, are not mandating students be vaccinated before returning to campus.

All adults ages 16 and older in the U.S. now qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine.

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