AU Explains its Decision to Require Vaccination or Mandatory Testing for Fall

On September 2, 2021, an email was sent by university officials to all students, faculty, and staff. The main point of the email was to inform the campus that all students and faculty that attend classes on campus must get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 30th or be required to undergo weekly COVID testing. 

The email mentioned the Aug. 23 FDA full approval of the Pfizer vaccine as well as the low vaccination rates among some segments of the campus community.

The news brought mixed emotions on campus, but the administration believes that they have good reasoning behind their decision.

Prior to the beginning of the semester, only 49% of the student population were fully vaccinated, 67% of the staff were fully vaccinated, and 81% of faculty were fully vaccinated. The vaccination rates not being high enough was a big reason why the mandate was issued.

“With the rising COVID-19 cases in our region along with our low vaccination rates on campus, this was the right decision to ensure the safety of everyone on campus,” Averett University’s Executive Director of Marketing and Communications Cassie Jones said.

According to news reports, it is difficult to be seen by a doctor in some area hospitals because they are filled with COVID-19 cases. Administrators believe that requiring vaccinations and testing is important to help curb the number of cases in the region and, possibly, save lives.

Another reason why the vaccine mandate was implemented is because students and staff want to continue to be on campus and have events on campus. However, if a COVID-19 outbreak happened and the number of cases spiked here at Averett University, then there’s a chance that campus would get shut down and classes would go online. This would have cancelled all activities including athletic events which would have been devastating because this year fans are allowed in attendance again. 

To further encourage vaccinations, 0n September 13, Dr. Tiffany Franks, Averett president, sent out a video message via email to everyone on campus. In this YouTube video, Dr. Franks reiterated many of the reasons for the vaccine mandate including keeping our campus safe and open.

“By monitoring and consulting with the health department, a deep level of care went into considering the best and most responsible choice for protecting everyone in our Averett family and keeping our campus open,” Franks stated in the video message. 

Two days later on September, 15, 2021, an email was sent out to the Averett family titled “Vaccine Mandate and Frequently Asked Questions.” This email answered a lot of questions that the Averett community had as well as providing COVID-19 vaccine clinic dates on campus. Included in this email was the announcement all members of the Averett community must be vaccinated or obtain an official medical/religious exemption in order to return in the spring.

Since these announcements the number of students, faculty and staff who are vaccinated continues to rise.


Faculty and Staff attend a vaccine clinic on campus
A member of Averett staff receives his dose of the Moderna vaccine