WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind — Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said he will not require students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but did say those not vaccinated will face other restrictions.
During an interview Monday on MSNBC, Daniels said Purdue and many other universities are taking the same path.
"We're with that very large majority of American colleges and universities who are not planning to require the vaccine this fall," Daniels said.
Daniels said that it will be left up to a student to decide if they will get vaccinated or not.
"I will say, here at Purdue, we have offered a choice model and people can either chose to stay with the system we used all last year – all of us were subject to surveillance testing on a regular basis – or they can exempt themselves by getting vaccinated. We've done everything we know how to encourage that, enable that," Daniels said.
Daniels said 60 percent of students have already registered that they are vaccinated. He said the university will continue working to increase those numbers, but he doesn't see how requiring the COVID-19 vaccine will work.
"We believe there will be very big enforcement problems trying to absolutely require, throw people off campus if they didn't prove their vaccination status," Daniels said. "The vaccine is not approved yet and some people draw a distinction on that basis. Of course you should also notice the age group we're talking about here, and they're smart enough to know this, are at almost zero risk, personally, from this."
Daniels' remarks come after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend ruled in Indiana University's favor in regards to its vaccine requirement for students, faculty and staff.
IU will not require documentation that students, faculty and staff have received the COVID-19 vaccine by the fall semester. IU is still requiring everyone working or enrolled at any of its campuses be vaccinated.
Daniels was asked if he thinks it would be easier to enforce restrictions Purdue University will place on students not vaccinated over just implementing a vaccine mandate. Daniels did not answer that question, but he did say they will be clear with students about the expectations.
"I've said to them, 'Listen, we believe in personal responsibility here, and you can make a choice about yourself. But we share a responsibility to keep this campus open. So, if you don't do what we believe is the wise thing and get the vaccination, then you will have to agree to some other inconveniences: regular testing and what may be more important, if you are exposed and unvaccinated, you'll have to quarantine and interrupt your own academic progress in a way you probably won't find very comfortable," Daniels said.
Daniels also said the university has not yet decided on mask wearing.
"We won't make the masking indoors or masking in classrooms decision until we get much closer. That's something we can decide literally at the last minute. And so, we don't know what we're gonna do yet and neither do any other schools that we're talking to, or most of them," Daniels said.
Daniels said they are doing their best to make sure students' education is not interrupted.
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