Pledging to do their part for a staged return to normalcy on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus this fall, 60% of incoming Purdue students and 66% of Purdue employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have submitted proof four weeks in advance of the Aug. 13 fall semester deadline.
Purdue announced the figures Tuesday (July 20) in its first release of overall campus vaccination rates.
Calling it a “personal choice approach” for what is expected to be another record year of enrollment at the West Lafayette campus, Purdue is strongly encouraging all students and employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they can.
“We are grateful to all the Purdue students and employees who have voluntarily chosen to get the vaccine and uploaded their documentation already. But there’s still a lot more work to do, and we anticipate many more will do the same before that first day of fall semester classes when our campus community swells to more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff,” said Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy and leader of the Protect Purdue Health Monitoring and Surveillance team.
As the pandemic persists, the key to upholding the Protect Purdue Pledge for students, faculty and staff will be choosing to be vaccinated and submitting valid proof by Aug. 13 or taking part in routine surveillance testing, which will begin on Aug. 23, the first day of classes, and could be as frequent as weekly. Only employees designated ‘100% remote’ will be exempt from routine surveillance testing.
To date, vaccination rates for Purdue students are running at nearly twice the rate compared with individuals ages 16-29 across the state. The Indiana Department of Health reports that 32.7% of those age 16-19, 34.9% of those age 20-24, and 31.8% of those age 25-29 are fully vaccinated in the state.
For those who haven’t yet submitted their documentation, there’s still time to get a COVID-19 vaccine by the Aug. 13 verification deadline and be excused from routine surveillance testing from the beginning. By getting the vaccine and submitting documentation, students and employees can avoid possibly disrupting their studies or work in the event they are exposed to the coronavirus.
Individuals not vaccinated who have a high-risk exposure must quarantine for 14 days and will not be allowed to attend classes or report to work, regardless of symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a high-risk exposure as coming within 6 feet of an infected individual for 15 minutes or more where both individuals are not wearing masks.
In addition, all Boilermakers must have a personal plan for proper isolation or quarantine should it be necessary, particularly unvaccinated individuals should they be exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or test positive themselves.
On-campus accommodations for those exposed to or infected with COVID-19 will be fewer in general and may not be available at any given time. As a result, university-provided isolation and quarantine housing will not be guaranteed.
“The vaccination against COVID-19 is the safest, surest and quickest path toward a return to normalcy,” Barker said. “The ultimate goal is to keep the Purdue community safe by taking a personal choice approach to the COVID-19 vaccination in tandem with the shared responsibility to help us deliver on our teaching, research and engagement missions.”
Purdue trustees approved a resolution on July 7 to open Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to normal operations for the 2021-22 academic year. Those plans include:
- Return all campus spaces to full density.
- Return athletics and other venues to full occupancy levels.
- Welcome back alumni and visitors.
- Reinstate pre-pandemic attendance policies for academic courses.
Purdue was one of the first U.S. universities to commit to resuming an in-person residential experience for students in 2020 and, since the fall, has been as open, densely populated and operational as any campus even close to its size while taking measured and necessary steps to protect its campus community.