Utah Valley University in Orem announced Monday it will require students to receive COVID-19 vaccines — but not until the spring semester that starts in January.
The decision comes days after the Utah System of Higher Education "provided the state's public universities with greater flexibility for setting vaccination policies for students," university officials said in a letter to the community.
The governing board over Utah's public colleges and universities last week encouraged institutions to consider requiring COVID-19 vaccination at no cost to students. UVU will join the University of Utah, Weber State University and Utah State University in requiring vaccinations.
"We are working to develop a plan aimed at reducing infection and hospitalization rates in our county and state while acknowledging exemptions for personal, religious and medical reasons. (The Utah System of High Education's) guidance on vaccines does not include faculty and staff currently — however, discussions are ongoing at the state level. Meanwhile, we strongly encourage all staff and faculty to get vaccinated. We will be providing more information about the new health requirement plans later this week," UVU leaders said in the statement.
Officials thanked the campus community for its "collective efforts to help us return to in-person instruction safely."
"We have felt great energy and excitement as we have opened for fall semester. We are also pleased with the steady flow of students coming to our free vaccination clinic. We encourage our students, staff, and faculty to be vigilant in wearing masks — particularly in our classrooms and other indoor venues," the letter says.