Local Private Colleges Mixed On Vaccination Requirements For Employees

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Updated: 8/5/21 — 10:41 AM

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) — At SUNY campuses this fall, students and employees will be required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or face weekly COVID testing, but only some of the region’s private colleges have vaccine requirements for employees.

Elmira College is not requiring students nor staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)

Wells College, in Aurora, was one of the first private colleges in the region to require both students and employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Many faculty said they weren’t comfortable teaching in person without a vaccine,” Wells College Communications Director Christopher Pollock* said. “Many students told us the same thing, that they wanted to be in a classroom with other vaccinated students.”

Pollock says the surrounding community was also a big factor in the decision. Wells College is in Cayuga County, which currently has a vaccination rate of 48 percent.

“There’s a lot of folks who are in their sixties and seventies and older who live in Aurora and we want them to stay healthy as well,” Pollock said. “It’s not just about us and our students. It’s really about our whole region.”

In an emailed statement to WSKG, a Cornell University spokesperson said their employees would have to get vaccinated or take a weekly COVID test in compliance with new requirements for state workers. Over 80 percent of Cornell’s employees are already vaccinated. In comparison, 67 percent of the surrounding county is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Ithaca College is recommending that employees get the COVID-19 vaccine, but have not yet required it for the coming semester. Elmira College does not yet require proof of vaccination for either students or employees.

*This story was updated to correct a misspelling of Christopher Pollock’s name. It’s Pollock, not Pollack.