Franklin College President Kerry Prather announced the college’s return-to-campus plan Friday in a video message emailed to the campus community. He said the college will need the help of all students, faculty and staff to ensure the health of community members.
“We all share two common goals for the upcoming academic year: To keep everyone healthy and to get campus life back to normal,” Prather said.
This will only be possible, Prather continued, if enough community members develop an immunity to the virus by means of the vaccine. He also explained that masks and social distancing requirements could only be terminated if most community members were vaccinated. Masks are not being required for students living on campus or taking classes this summer.
“My plea today is for students to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccines that are readily available and free of charge. Hundreds of millions of doses have been administered throughout the world safely and effectively,” Prather said.
The college is not requiring the vaccine, Prather explained, but students who opt out of inoculation will not have access to “the full student experience.” They will be excluded from participation in some activities, such as study abroad programs.
Prather said that because last year’s mitigation practices can no longer be sustained financially or logistically, the college will be scaling back some of its COVID-mitigation programs. It will no longer offer quarantine and isolation provisions. It will also discontinue the virtual make-up option for missed coursework and absolve its responsibility for COVID-related costs. It will no longer pay for unvaccinated students’ COVID testing or costs following a positive test result.
Students should receive an email next week from Dean Andrew Jones with instructions on how to indicate their vaccination status to the college. This requirement will be crucial for the college’s planning efforts, Prather said. Ultimately, he concluded, college administrators are encouraging community members to get the vaccine because it will allow them to offer the best possible experience to students during the upcoming school year.
“The decision whether to become fully vaccinated is a personal one, but each decision ultimately impacts our collective ability to return to business as usual,” Prather said.