BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic plans to require students, staff and faculty who will be working and studying on campus in the fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
School officials cite the broad benefits of a vaccinated campus, including holding gatherings, sharing meals, resuming regular transportation protocols and a return to a more normal academic setting.
“Having a fully vaccinated community should allow us to teach, learn and practice human ecology as it is meant to be done,” said COA President Darron Collins.
The school’s COVID-19 Response Team, which includes members of COA’s senior leadership team and others, understands that there could be very rare cases where taking the vaccine is not medically advised, Collins said, and will work with anyone who falls into that category. They are also making provisions for students who may have trouble getting vaccinated because of their geographic location to receive vaccines when they arrive at campus in late summer. There will be some degree of remote class offerings for students who are not vaccinated, Collins said.
COA is encouraging students who have concerns about the vaccine to contact their personal healthcare providers or get in touch with a local provider through the college. They are also scheduling an open information session in the coming weeks.
Each COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization. Full approval is expected within the coming months.
“Once these vaccines are granted full approval, schools and employers can legally require their use, and we believe it is our ethical duty to do so, in order to provide for the greatest good for the greatest number of our community,” Collins said.
COA has taken a science-based approach to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has testing, masking and distancing protocols. Classes have been offered remotely, in person and via a combination of the two. Baseline testing of the entire in-person community at the beginning of each trimester and weekly surveillance testing of a select 20-25 percent of the population has been done through The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard with shallow-swab PCR tests.