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COVID-19 Vaccine Required for the Fall 2021 Semester

In an email to Brown community members on April 6th, President Christina Paxson detailed “plans for a more traditional Fall 2021” on Brown’s campus. The email covered many aspects of the upcoming school year, in short, announcing that Brown will mostly return to their pre-pandemic mode of operation, going back to the two-semester system and several in-person classes and activities. A standout piece of information from the email is that all Brown students who come to campus for classes in the fall must have a COVID-19 vaccination unless they qualify for a religious or medical exemption. 

Brown is not the first college to announce a COVID-19 vaccine requirement, and it certainly will not be the last. With the entire community on campus vaccinated this fall, there will be a much lower chance of outbreaks, and students will be able to return to more in-person activities safely. Brown’s COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group is still in the process of deciding whether employees will also be required to get vaccinated. 

In my opinion, the best part of the email from President Paxson was that she believes “we have every reason to expect that Fall 2021 at Brown will look and feel much more like Fall 2019 than Fall 2020.” Though things will not be completely back to normal this fall, it is really encouraging to hear that life at Brown will be more similar to how it was before the pandemic. President Paxson noted that the increased pace of vaccine rollout and the ability to require vaccinations for the fall semester is the leading reason why the semester will return to more of the typical Brown experience. 

Personally, the vaccine requirement and the rest of the information in President Paxson’s email made me fairly optimistic about this fall at Brown. Things are always changing during the pandemic, so there is still a great deal of uncertainty, but increased access to the vaccine will most likely allow for a much more normal semester in the fall. After over a year of online classes and strict restrictions on campus, it’s going to be great to see things open up a bit more next school year, even if it won’t be a full return to normalcy quite yet. Brown has done a great job of handling COVID-19 overall, and the vaccine requirement is another proactive move to keep students safe and finally allow the whole Brown community to be on campus together. 

Hannah is a sophomore at Brown from the D.C. area in Virginia. She is concentrating in public policy.
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