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Decision for the fall could come in next several weeks, university officials say.

COURTESY PHOTO: GFU - George Fox University held classes in unusual settings during the pandemic, including in its gynasium.

A number of public and private universities throughout the state are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination before students can return to campus next fall. As the summer begins and fall inches closer, administrators at George Fox University are weighing their options and have yet to make a final decision on vaccine requirements.

Some schools are requiring submission of vaccine cards to sign up for in-person classes, also allowing students to provide waivers from the vaccine requirements due to medical, religious or personal reasons. GFU has yet to decide whether it will require students to be vaccinated or provide one of those exemptions as society winds toward normalcy, with the fall of 2021 being the first in two years expected to have full, in-person attendance at most colleges throughout the country.

"We're still evaluating our options for how we handle vaccines," GFU spokesman Rob Felton said via email May 17. "Might be a few more weeks before we have a decision."COURTESY PHOTO: GFU - GFU nursing students administered COVID-19 vaccines over the final weeks of the 2020-21 school year.

The university may not have reached a decision just yet, but it is strongly encouraging the GFU community to get vaccinated. Ninety percent of GFU employees have received a vaccine or scheduled one, according to the school, but the numbers for current and prospective students aren't yet clear.

"Vaccines are a critical step to slowing and ultimately ending the COVID-19 pandemic," a university statement reads. "George Fox University encourages students and employees to get a COVID-19 vaccination."

GFU is awaiting guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and Higher Education Coordinating Commission on what campus life will look like in the fall, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 and its impact on the community. Felton said the university anticipates regular capacity classrooms and residence halls, regardless of the decision on potential vaccine requirements.

GFU officials pointed community members to two resources in order to find vaccines, which are now widely available with open appointments throughout the region: www.getvaccinated.oregon.gov or www.VaccineFinder.org.

The COVID-19 vaccines distributed by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have been evaluated as safe and effective by the CDC and granted emergency use authorization by the FDA for people 12 years of age and older. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html.


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