Wheaton College to require students to attend classes on campus, get vaccinated

WHEATON COLLEGE announced Friday that it will require students to be on campus for classes starting next fall and does not anticipate continuing its hybrid learning model. / COURTESY WHEATON COLLEGE
WHEATON COLLEGE announced Friday that it will require students to be on campus for classes starting next fall and does not anticipate continuing its hybrid learning model. / COURTESY WHEATON COLLEGE

NORTON – Wheaton College’s on-campus plans for the 2021 fall semester, announced by the college Friday, will require students to be in person for classes and other academic experiences.

The college said that it does not anticipate continuing a hybrid model for teaching come next fall as COVID-19 vaccines have become more widely available.

Students will also be required to be vaccinated to attend fall classes, Wheaton said. Waivers for religious and medical exemptions for not getting vaccinated will be reviewed and made available by the college on a case-by-case basis, the college said.

Like many schools, Wheaton had implemented this past academic year a mix of in-person and online learning as the pandemic progressed.

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Some other local colleges, including Brown University and Roger Williams University, are still planning to offer students some hybrid learning options even as they plan upcoming in-person semesters.

However, Wheaton said it will help students who cannot make it to campus due to travel or health-related reasons to explore alternative academic options and arrangements. The college will reach out to those students to assess the need for those arrangements “based on the conditions that exist at that time,” Wheaton said.

The college will also offer an on-campus vaccination clinic on May 4 and Wheaton encourages all on the campus community to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Wheaton also said it will schedule a vaccination clinic at the beginning of the fall semester to allow international students or others who could not get vaccinated to meet the requirement.

Safety protocols, such as mask wearing indoors and in large gatherings, will still be required by Wheaton, the college said, but the protocols will be continually monitored as guidance evolves. Testing will also still be continued, but at a “decreased frequency,” Wheaton said. The expected decreased testing cadence assumes that the vast majority of campus has been fully vaccinated, Wheaton said, and alternative testing measures may be explored if the campus community does not meet its vaccination threshold.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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