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Lewis & Clark College Will Require Students to Vaccinate to Return to Campus This Fall

All students must provide proof of vaccination or request an approved exemption by Oct. 15.

College campus, pond and trees.

Two days after all Oregonians ages 16 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Lewis & Clark College announced that a vaccination will be required of all students returning to campus.

Lewis & Clark appears to be the first Portland-area college to mandate vaccination. (Students may opt out by providing a medical or nonmedical approved exemption by Oct. 15.)

Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan, Lewis & Clark’s dean of students, emailed students on Wednesday to announce the policy. Her email was first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Holmes-Sullivan wrote that she was announcing the new policy early, to allow students to plan ahead for the fall semester.

“This policy will allow us to return as much as possible to the pre-pandemic instruction and activities that are the hallmark of a Lewis & Clark education,” she wrote.

Lewis & Clark is the most high-profile institution in the Portland metro region to announce a COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Higher education institutions have long required vaccines for arriving students, but the decisions of colleges around COVID-19 shots are being closely watched as an early indicator of whether vaccine mandates will become common practice elsewhere.

“If any students find they are unable to obtain a vaccine, one will be provided by student health services,” Holmes-Sullivan writes. “The campus will work with international students to ensure they get United States-approved vaccinations.

“We have all worked together to keep everyone in the community safe over the course of the pandemic. We’ve had a remarkably low incidence of COVID-19 on our campus—and we aim to keep things that way,” Holmes-Sullivan wrote.

While students will be required to get the vaccination, staff is currently not. But the college is urging that all employees do so.

The college created an FAQ page to address any questions students or others may have.