Connecticut colleges looking into requiring boosters for students but not mandating yet
With the number of COVID-19 cases rising and the omicron variant spreading, more than 20 colleges have announced they will require all eligible students to get booster shots by the start of the spring semester.
Many schools were hoping COVID-19 measures could be relaxed in the spring, but now many are bracing for the worst.
In Connecticut, schools aren't mandating a booster - yet.
"No one necessarily wants to be the first out the door. No one wants to be at the back of the pack either, when it comes to designing, implementing and really evaluating how effective our COVID policies are," said Dr. Anthony Santella, University of New Haven's COVID coordinator.
Santella says he has been in talks with his counterparts at other schools as they face rising infection numbers and a new variant.
"What some of my peers think - and I'm on the same boat with this - is we really look to the state and federal authorities to determine what these definitions are," said Santella.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still defines being fully vaccinated as two shots. Santella expects that definition to change by the end of January. The university isn't mandating boosters for now, but it is recommending them.
"We've been strongly encouraging it. We've been telling people the writing's on the wall, it's going to happen, so if you're eligible, please do that," he said.
Santella says everyone who’s been boosted will be exempt from presenting a negative COVID-19 test to return to school next month.
Other schools are also recommending but not requiring the booster.
The University of Bridgeport told News 12, “All UB students and faculty are encouraged to receive their COVID-19 booster shots before returning to campus for the Spring 2022 Semester. For those members of the UB community who are unable or ineligible to receive a vaccine booster during the winter break, the university is in discussions with a local community health organization to schedule on-campus booster clinics in January.”
It's the same at Quinnipiac University, which is also making testing necessary,
“Based on the current trends, and to best position us for a successful start to the spring semester, Quinnipiac has decided to require all students (vaccinated and unvaccinated) to submit a negative COVID-19 test before they return in January. The university also is strongly encouraging all students to get a COVID-19 booster shot when they qualify and will hold an on-campus booster clinic at the beginning of the spring semester to make it easy and convenient for those interested in receiving a booster," said John W. Morgan, associate vice president for public relations at Quinnipiac University.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart University tells News 12 it is looking at boosters very closely while UConn says there is no determination yet.
Southern Connecticut State University released a statement saying, “At this time, Southern is not requiring boosters for the spring semester. We continue to monitor all information and guidance from the CDC and state DPH and that guidance will inform any changes in status moving forward.”
“While continuing to follow all local, state and CDC guidelines, Fairfield [University] is actively promoting, incentivizing, and encouraging all faculty, staff and students to receive the Covid-19 vaccine booster, and the University recently hosted a vaccination clinic for the campus community," said Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Anderson.
Multiple schools News 12 spoke with plan to have booster clinics on campus when school resumes next month.
A Western Connecticut State University spokesperson tells News 12, "At this point, we recommend all those eligible for a booster shot to get one. But it is a recommendation. We will follow the guidance provided by CDC, DPH and Board of Regents."