Kent State’s COVID-19 plan for the 2022 spring semester

Kent State COVID-19 vaccine exemptions as of Oct. 29. 2021. 

Haley Kisling Reporter

Kent State is planning for a full array of in-person classes where faculty can meet with students, testing for unvaccinated individuals will take place and people will have to still wear masks inside.


“Those who have approved vaccine exemptions would fall under the category of doing weekly COVID testing,” said Dr. Lisa Dannemiller, Kent State’s chief university physician.


The university announced its vaccine requirement during the fall semester of 2021. There is an option for certain exemptions. As Kent State begins to plan for the next semester other universities are doing the same.


More people have been getting vaccinated since the mandate was announced.


“Once the Kent State vaccine mandate came out, of course, a lot of people were like, well, I have got to get my vaccine by Dec. 20,” said Taryn Burhanna, clinical instructor at Kent State. 


Eric Mansfield, assistant vice president of university communications and marketing, said in an email that as of Oct. 29 there were 17,457 people, which includes students, staff and faculty, who have registered their vaccination status with Med+Proctor.


Like all vaccines, mRNA vaccines benefit vaccinated individuals by giving them protection against diseases like COVID-19 without the risk of consequences like getting sick and potentially even worse illnesses. These vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot change or influence genes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 


“The vaccine hasn’t given you COVID it’s just making your body create the army to fight COVID,” said Burhanna.


Studies continue to show that vaccines are an effective means of fighting off illnesses.


“Why is the COVID vaccine important?” Manfred Van Dulmen, the associate provost for academic affairs, dean of the division of graduate studies and chair of the pandemic leadership committee asked. “It’s because flashes take care of flashes because we want to keep each other safe, and we want to reduce the spread of the disease.” 


Based on the CDC guidelines, a vaccine mandate was a significant step for Kent State to try and prevent the spread and keep people safe.


“We know that the vaccine is currently the best protection to COVID-19, and that is one of the reasons why we have implemented the vaccine requirement,” said Van Dulmen.


Some students are glad that the university made this decision.


“I am honestly grateful that they mandated the vaccine,” Devon Bosko, a senior zoology major, said. “I think it is an important step to prevent a huge outbreak on campus and potentially getting a lot of people really sick.”


Going forward into next semester, Van Dulmen added that it is important to remember to either register your vaccine or file for an exemption.


A medical, religious or personal conscience exemption is possible for people who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine.


As of Oct. 29, there were 709 student exemption forms filed. So far, 466 were approved and 72 were rejected. Faculty and staff filed 119 exemptions where 67 were approved and 19 were rejected, Mansfield said in an email.


Weekly testing for unvaccinated individuals is a way for Kent State to keep cases low, identify cases and keep the university as safe as possible moving forward into the spring semester.


For employees, “if an individual literally does none of those steps that is considered non-compliance with the requirement and hopefully, in that case, we can be successful in encouraging cooperation,” said Jack Witt, vice president for human resources.


The human resource office and faculty affairs office have been working closely to ensure the process is streamlined.


“Our hope is that our students will be compliant,” Dr. Talea Drummer-Ferrell, associate vice president and dean of students, said. “We are defining what that discipline process looks like. However, we have not determined what the final process will be, but we are certainly taking a lot into consideration.”


As this semester wraps up other universities are planning for what lies ahead.


The University of Akron also has a mandate set in place, and those who are unvaccinated will be subject to up to twice-weekly testing protocols. The vaccination deadline for employees and students at Akron is Dec. 13.


Akron University also will continue testing those who are fully vaccinated if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive. 


Like Kent State, both Akon University and Ohio State University require that facial coverings be worn indoors.


Ohio State University is preparing to offer significantly more in-person classes for the spring 2022 semester. The university also requires that students, faculty and staff members be vaccinated against COVID-19, and those who are unvaccinated are subject to weekly testing.


The deadline for Ohio State students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated by at least a first dose was Oct. 15. For people receiving a two-dose vaccine, the second dose must be received by Nov. 15.


College campuses create close contact environments where illnesses can spread rapidly, which is why Kent State will continue to take precautions to keep people safe during the pandemic.


“If we together engage in these safe practices and safe behaviors,” Van Dulmen said, “ we can keep campus safe, and we can be together safely.”

 Haley Kisling is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].