COVID-19 still presenting challenges to University

Ellie Lowe, Staff Writer

Despite the University returning to mostly normal operations, the presence of COVID-19 is far from gone. In an email from President John Bravman, the University announced that it will require all students to be vaccinated before returning to campus for this fall semester.

As a residential university, Bucknell has long required incoming students to be vaccinated against many diseases that can spread quickly in shared living spaces,” Bravman’s email said. “Medical experts and public health authorities have established that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is safe, effective and the best defense against transmission of the virus or serious complications that may result from contracting COVID-19.”

Although students were able to receive exemptions from the vaccine requirement if they had a sufficient reason, including medical and religious reasons, the number of those exempted is small. According to the University’s COVID-19 Dashboard, roughly 97.5 percent of students are fully vaccinated. 

This precaution seems to have worked for students, with the daily positive results remaining in single digits throughout the entire semester despite student activities having largely returned to normal, as of the time of this publication.

But while students were required to receive the vaccine, faculty and staff were not. According to the university website, “[b]ecause University employees do not live in congregate settings like students and their risk of transmission is lower, Bucknell does not currently require faculty and staff to be vaccinated.” 

The website also claims this policy is being discussed, and adds that faculty and staff are still encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Director of Communications Mike Ferlazzo declined to comment on behalf of the University, beyond the information provided from the website. 

As of this publication, the current faculty and staff vaccination report suggests an 85.7 percent vaccination rate. Despite this significant disparity, when compared to student vaccination rates, the daily positive results for faculty and staff has also remained in the single-digits since the beginning of the semester, according to the Dashboard. 

The lack of a vaccine requirement for faculty and staff has had mixed responses from students. “It is irresponsible for someone that does not have an actual reason to not be vaccinated,” Christian Baccay ’23 said. 

On the other hand, other students feel comfortable enough with their own vaccinations and the other precautions that the University is taking. “I don’t really mind [the lack of a vaccine requirement] because when I’m around staff, I’m masked,” Liv Makemson ’25 said.

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