Virginia Tech town hall covers fall semester plans, reasons for vaccine requirements


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — During a Tuesday afternoon town hall, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, several university administrators, and New River Health District director Dr. Noelle Bissell discussed the university’s plans for the fall semester, including the reasons behind mandatory student vaccinations.

University officials announced in March that Virginia Tech was preparing for a fully in-person fall semester. In addition, the administration shared plans for housing and dining operations to proceed close to normal capacity while still reserving isolation and quarantine space in residence halls when medical professionals say students need such a space.

Then, last week, Virginia Tech announced that all students — except those with certain medical issues or religious beliefs — would be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester.

School officials said during the town hall on Tuesday, June 15 that vaccines will reduce the need for testing and quarantining on campus, as well as decrease disruptions to campus operations.

According to the university, vaccinations also mean they can hold more in-person activities on campus, such as football games.

“We have a new tool, and that’s vaccination. That tool is very effective, and what it allows us to contemplate and to plan for is a fully in person fall experience. So, back to 66,000 at Lane Stadium, to full occupancy of our classrooms and laboratories, to using the dining halls, to full occupancy of the residence halls. This is really something we’ve been craving for months, and we now have the opportunity to have that.

So, we’re encouraging everyone to be vaccinated who can be vaccinated. The result of that is protecting your own health and protecting the community. … If we can get almost everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated, we will be able to open up full bore for the fall, and that’s the goal. We really needed to come back. We know that the educational experience is dependent on having the option to come back more in person. Everything that we think about when we think of the Virginia Tech experience requires the ability to come in person, and we have that ability now.”

Tim Sands, president of Virginia Tech

So far, approximately 5,400 students have reportedly confirmed their vaccination status with the campus.

If you want to learn more about the topics of discussion at Tuesday’s town hall, you can either watch the recording of the event below or read the highlights here.

Those highlights from the town hall include the decision behind mandating student vaccinations, especially after previously deciding not to require the vaccine for student; why Aug. 6 is a key date for students; concerns about vaccines and myocarditis; the decision behind not mandating employee vaccinations; and the university’s testing plans.

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