ABILENE, Texas — Colleges and universities across the country, including West Texas, have been faced with the decision of whether or not they will require students to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Howard College does not plan to require COVID-19 vaccines for its return of on-campus students in Fall 2021.
Pam Callan, executive dean at Howard College, said, "We are highly encouraging it, but we are not mandating or requiring that any student or faculty, or staff have the vaccination. We are hopeful that people will, but we believe that is their choice and so that is not a mandate for students to come back to Howard College face-to-face in the fall."
In Abilene, Hardin-Simmons University will not require its on-campus students, faculty and staff to take the COVID-19 shot.
Nikki Slater with Hardin-Simmons said in an email, "No, it is not our plan to require it at this time unless the state would decide to mandate it."
To reduce the spread of the coronavirus, Howard College will continue to implement its mask mandate. There are also temperature checks at every entrance on campus.
Kaitlyn Brosh, director of student life marketing and outreach with Howard College said, "Our leadership has created the Open Howard College guidelines document that is still being followed through the end of the spring semester and is constantly being re-evaluated as new regulations are changed, introduced or taking away."
In addition, the Howard College campus community is continuing to follow the encouraged guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for best practices to keep on-campus students as safe as possible.
Howard College currently has no active COVID-19 cases and currently has one campus member in quarantine, according to Callan. However, Howard College's COVID response team is standing by at the four different campus sites in case COVID-19 numbers surge.
More and more vaccine sites continue to open up across West Texas due to supply increases. Shannon Medical Center is planning on offering a vaccine clinic on the Howard College campus and it is expected to be available to students, faculty and staff. More information is expected to come within the next couple of weeks.