UVA Disenrolls Unvaccinated Students; UNC Sees Second Spike

Carolyn Crist

August 23, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The University of Virginia disenrolled 238 students for the fall semester on Friday for not complying with the university's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

UVA's COVID-19 policy requires that "all students who live, learn, or work in person at the university" be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Among the 238 students disenrolled, only 49 had signed up for classes, according to CNN. The other 189 "may not have been planning to return to the university this fall at all," said Brian Coy, a spokesman for UVA.

Students who comply with the vaccine requirement or file an exemption by Wednesday will be able to re-enroll.

"Disenrolled means you're not eligible to take courses," Coy said.

About 96.6% of UVA's students have confirmed they are vaccinated, including 97.1% of those living on campus in residence halls, according to UVA Today. About 1% of students are unvaccinated, and 1.3% were allowed to claim medical or religious exemptions.

As of last week, 335 students received permanent waivers for medical or religious exemptions, and 184 students received temporary waivers. The temporary waivers were given to students who had a hard time getting a shot during the summer but intend to get vaccinated as they return to campus.

About 92% of UVA's Academic Division staff are fully vaccinated, including 96% of teaching and research faculty, the university reported. All faculty and staff are expected to be vaccinated unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

Unvaccinated students and staff, including those with an exemption, are required to take a COVID-19 test weekly and wear a mask indoors and outdoors in common spaces.

University leaders said during a town hall in mid-August that the high vaccination rates among students and staff will allow classes and events to continue as usual.

"Students out of compliance received multiple emails, calls, text messages and — in some cases — calls to their parents," Coy said. "Our numbers show that our students responded to this. This means we can have the kind of in-person semester where people can engage in normal ways."

Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina has seen a second cluster of COVID-19 cases develop this month. While the number of affected students is small, there is concern that the cases could upend plans for in-person learning, WRAL reported.

The new cluster also comes as the university allowed a campus tradition to continue amid the pandemic. Students historically line up to drink from the Old Well, a landmark fountain on campus. But UNC's chancellor defended the tradition.

"I know there have been some concerns about certain activities, such as the first sip at the Old Well, Sunset Serenade and athletic events," Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in a statement. "Let me be clear: we are consulting with our experts and health officials, as well as following state and local guidelines, as we make these decisions."

UNC says 90% of students and 80% of staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and that unvaccinated students will be tested twice weekly. Masks are also required indoors on campus.


WRAL: "UNC identifies COVID cluster in residence hall, the second cluster this month."

CNN: "University of Virginia disenrolls 238 students for not complying with university's vaccine mandate."

UVA Today: "High vaccination rates paves the way as students move in," "UVA leaders, public health experts review masking policy, semester start in town hall."