Dear Members of the Villanova Community,
Last June, when I announced that we would return to campus for the 2020-21 academic year, I asked everyone to put Community First by following the CARITAS Commitment—the Villanova pledge to keep our community healthy and safe. We utilized the tools that we had at that time —masks, social distancing, good personal hygiene, etc.— to ensure a safe return for students, faculty and staff. It worked, and we were able to successfully hold the entire academic year on campus.
As we look ahead to the fall semester, there is a new, more effective tool at our disposal. With the arrival of vaccines, health officials are lifting restrictions across the country as more people become vaccinated and some normalcy has been restored. At Villanova, I would also like to see a return to a more typical, on-campus experience, so I have made the decision to require that all students, faculty and staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 1, 2021.
The results of our vaccine survey sent at the end of last semester indicated that the vast majority of responding community members are already vaccinated. My hope is that by requiring that vaccine for all community members, we can lift most of the mitigation measures from this past year and provide the safest possible environment for both the University and local community.
Vaccine documentation will be part of each student’s health record and Human Resources will facilitate documentation for faculty and staff. As with other vaccines required to attend Villanova, exemptions may be requested for medical and religious reasons. We will also make provisions for international students to receive the vaccine once on-campus if they are unable to meet this requirement in advance of the fall semester. More detailed guidance on documentation and the exemption process will be communicated in the coming weeks.
While the vaccine directive is welcome news to some, I appreciate that not everyone will agree with or be happy about it. However, it is necessary to allow for the vibrant on-campus experience that has made Villanova flourish for the past 179 years. Requiring the vaccine allows for in-person instruction, a full slate of extracurricular and service-related activities, residence and dining halls at full occupancy, and many more of the typical Villanova experiences can resume. It also allows us to significantly reduce many of COVID mitigation measures—including testing and quarantine/isolation—that must be in place to ensure the safety of our community.
I recognize how challenging the past year has been for everyone, and I thank you for your collective efforts, including this latest request, to keep our community safe. In the coming weeks, the Division of Student Life and Human Resources will share information about the vaccine verification process, and more information about the vaccine requirement will be available on Villanova’s COVID-19 Campus Information website.
Once again, thank you for your remarkable efforts, and I look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming months.
Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA