Heidelberg University Students Protest Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

A group of students at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, has held a protest urging the university to terminate its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The university announced the mandate through an email sent to students this month, pointing out that the latter, as well as all employees, should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 3, 2022.

“Students who are not in compliance by January 3, 2022 will not be allowed on Heidelberg’s campus and cannot participate in University classes or other activities. If available, those students may choose online courses to stay enrolled but cannot reside on campus or participate in other activities. Otherwise, students must withdraw their enrollment,” the university noted in its email sent on October 7.

According to students, the decision was surprising because vaccination was not mentioned at all, and students were never consulted before the mandate announcement.

“University-wide everybody was accepting of the mask, and the vaccine wasn’t really talked about at all until it was ‘get it or you can’t come back next semester’,” senior Branden Short told WTOL 11.

In its email, the university stressed that the policy is based on the recommendation of local, state, and national public health officials, Erudera.com reports.  

“Those who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose”, the university said.

Earlier in July and August, students received emails from the university stating those who are not vaccinated have to perform COVID-19 tests on a regular basis, but in the email of August 2, the university also stressed that the plans for the fall semester could change in the best interest of university community.

The university dashboard shows that as of October 18, 77 percent of the student population on campus is vaccinated.

More than one thousand universities and colleges in the United States have imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Heidelberg has joined the list of other universities in Ohio requiring the vaccine, which include OAC peers Capital University, John Carroll University, Otterbein University, and Wilmington College.

To document their vaccination status, Heidelberg University students should report to the Stoner Health & Counseling Center by using the Medicat student health portal, whereas employees can submit proof of vaccination to the Human Resources Department.

The university noted that it would provide only a limited number of online classes as an alternative to hybrid or in-person instruction. Students can also apply for exemptions based on medical or religious reasons.

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