ITHACA, N.Y.—Ithaca College has become the second local college to announce that it will institute a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students returning to campus for the fall semester later this year.

Five days after Cornell University announced identical intentions, IC has instituted their own vaccination requirement and that the college intends to “fully open for in-person, on-campus learning and living in the fall of 2021.” Like Cornell, IC will honor medical and religious exemptions. Both schools will also be holding in-person, albeit limited, commencement ceremonies later this spring.

“To support a resumption of this IC experience for our students with a significantly reduced risk of infection for all, the college plans to require all students who are attending this fall to be vaccinated,” wrote President Shirley Collado in the announcement. “Medical and religious exemptions will be accommodated, but it is expected that the vast majority of individuals on campus will be vaccinated. Because so many in our community will have received the protection of the vaccine, the risk of infection for our entire community can be greatly diminished.”

The school does appear to be preparing for a full return to in-person learning. Collado stated that students should expect the “vast majority” of their learning to be face-to-face, though “limited online coursework” will be available. No courses will be offered remotely via dual instruction, according to Collado’s letter.

“I am announcing this intention in a moment marked by the widespread rollout of vaccination and promising data regarding its efficacy,” Collado wrote. “As with all of our decision-making throughout the past year, we will remain committed to being methodical, data-driven, and nimble as we navigate any shifts in the trajectory of this pandemic.”

All three local colleges have been approved as vaccination distribution sites, though it’s unknown when they will actually have vaccinations to distribute.

The school’s sports teams will “full re-engage with NCAA and Liberty League competition.” The fall semester will begin on Aug. 23 and end on Dec. 15, and the full school year will include the traditional Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break and full Spring Break, which had been altered last year due to the pandemic, as well as the break between Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters.

“On behalf of the senior leadership team and myself, I want to offer each of you our sincere gratitude for your perseverance and ingenuity,” Collado concluded. “Your strength has enabled us to endure, and I sincerely look forward to seeing all of you back here on South Hill next academic year.”

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com