July 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) - As educational institutions grapple with the decision whether to reopen in the fall in light of fears about COVID-19, several universities have announced plans to require students to be vaccinated and/or commit to "social distancing" as a condition of returning to campus.
Harvard University and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have both announced they will require students to receive a seasonal flu vaccine, the College Fixreported, with the latter also saying it may require a COVID-19 vaccine as well, once one is developed and "proven to be safe and effective."
"While we have received a small amount of mixed feedback, we believe this action is in the best interest of our students and campus communities," said UT-Knoxville communications director Melissa Tindell.
In addition, Harvard will require students to "participate in routine COVID-19 testing" and wear masks in public spaces, among other restrictions. Access to campus buildings will also be limited, and students are encouraged to settle for "virtual socializing" as the "first option for social contact."
Meanwhile, a recent survey of 69 educational institutions from the consulting firm EAB recently found that 40 percent "would ask students to sign agreements to follow university and public health guidelines," that one in six plan to add punishment for violating "social distancing" guidelines as part of their student codes of conduct (with another 37 percent still considering that step).
Cornell, Princeton, and the University of Colorado-Boulder have all announced that they are imposing numerous new rules on students living or gathering on-campus.
"All medical interventions, including vaccines, must be a choice," Danielle Goodrich of the Tennessee Coalition for Vaccine Choice said in response to the above developments. "Our schools and public health should uphold our inalienable, God-given rights."
While many frame a COVID-19 vaccine as a prerequisite for fully reopening society, the prospect of making it mandatory remains controversial for a number of reasons, chief among them individual and parental choice.
Further, while the mainstream media often fixates on parents who oppose vaccines based on hotly-debated fears over side effects, they tend to overlook another group that supports vaccines in general while having an ethical conflict with vaccines derived from aborted babies' cells.
"Fear of a disease -- which we know very little about, relative to other similar diseases -- must not lead to knee-jerk reactions regarding public health, nor can it justify supporting the hidden agenda of governmental as well as non-governmental bodies that have apparent conflicts of interest in plans to restrict personal freedoms," says LifeSiteNews' ongoing petition against mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, which has gathered more than 640,000 signatures.
As of July 16, the United States has seen more than 3.6 million cases of COVID-19, with 140,000 deaths and 1.6 million recoveries.
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