- The Washington Times - Friday, April 23, 2021

The University of Maryland will require all students, faculty and staff who will be on campus this fall to get their COVID-19 vaccines. 

Jay A. Perman, University System of Maryland chancellor, made the announcement Friday, saying the coronavirus is no longer “a disease for the old” and is infecting a large share of patients under the age of 40. 

“This mandate was not undertaken lightly. It was based on the recommendation of a USM workgroup I convened this semester — one that includes university-based experts in public health, infectious disease, and emergency management,” the chancellor said in a statement. “Last week, I said that mandating a COVID vaccine is a reasonable and necessary means of preventing spread of the disease. I’ll go one better: Mandating a COVID vaccine is the most effective strategy we have, especially as we try to reach herd immunity. It’s not just one tool in this fight; it’s our best tool. And one I believe is critical to our safe return to campus.” 

The University of Maryland joins other Washington-area colleges in requiring vaccines to return to campus,  including Georgetown, American and George Washington universities. 

Mr. Perman said the University of Maryland’s school of medicine is studying 10% of positive COVID samples, of which more than 30% to 40% are the B.1.1.7 variant, a more contagious strain of the coronavirus that originated from the United Kingdom. 

The university system will comply with federal and state laws in granting exemptions from the vaccine mandate for medical or religious reasons, he said. 

The University of Maryland plans to gradually bring back more students to its College Park campus over the coming months. The plans include regular COVID-19 testing of those on campus, isolation protocols for coronavirus cases and mask-wearing mandates for all indoor and outdoor public spaces. 

The 2021 fall semester at the University of Maryland begins on Aug. 30.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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