TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Tompkins Cortland Community College will require vaccination proof for “all students living on campus, taking in-person classes, or utilizing any in-person services on the main campus in Dryden or either extension center in Ithaca or Cortland,” the school announced Wednesday.

The move is in accordance with the SUNY system, which announced it would mandate vaccines on all of its campuses in the wake of the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. SUNY is requiring students to be fully vaccinated (or at least have received all of their required COVID shots) by September 27. It does not appear that the requirement extends to staff and faculty.

Any student who does not show proof of vaccination y then will be “removed from on-campus housing and in-person classes.” There is a deadline of September 1 for students to make requests for medical or religious exemptions. The school’s decision also follows announcements by Ithaca College and Cornell University that they would also require students returning to campus to receive vaccinations.

“Since the start of the pandemic, TC3 has successfully maintained a productive environment for teaching and learning, while prioritizing the health of our students, staff, and faculty,” wrote Provost and Administrator in Charge Paul Reifenheiser. “We have relied on the Tompkins County Health Department to help us ensure that our protocols are in line with county, state, and federal guidance. That guidance tells us that the key to ending this pandemic lies in widespread vaccinations.”

Students who are not vaccinated can still start classes in person when the semester opens August 30, but they must be vaccinated by September 27. Clinics are being held to hopefully boost the vaccination rate of students, with clinics on-campus on Sept. 1 and 2 and follow-ups on Sept. 22 and 23. Walk-ins are accepted, as well as registrations.

“We recognize that there has been much misinformation and skepticism about the vaccines, but the position of TC3, SUNY, the State of New York, and the CDC is clear: vaccines are our best option to ending this deadly pandemic,” said Reifenheiser. “The vaccine requirement and mask mandates are vital to keep our campus safe for the 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