36% of Catawba College students vaccinated as classes begin

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2021

SALISBURY — Just over a third of Catawba College students are vaccinated as the college begins its fall semester Thursday.

Everyone on campus is required to report their vaccination status to the college. Officials were still tallying the number of vaccinated people on campus on Wednesday, but they said about 36% of students have been vaccinated while 79% of staff have received a vaccine.

The percentage of vaccinated students is similar to what other college campuses have calculated in their populations and for the age range of late teens and early 20s.

As of Tuesday, the college reported four cases of COVID-19 in students, including three unvaccinated students and one vaccinated. One active case was in an unvaccinated staff member.

Catawba Marketing and Communication Director Jodi Bailey said the college wants to increase the number of vaccinated people on campus all the way to the 85% mark, on the high end of the herd immunity threshold, based on recommendations from health professionals.

The college held a vaccination clinic this past weekend and will hold another on Sunday, which is open to the community as well. Bailey said the college is also brainstorming how to broadcast the vaccine is available and educate people so that figure will creep up every day.

Athletes at the college are vaccinated at a higher rate than the student population at large, about 58%.

“They recognize the need for that to stay competitive and participate in competitions,” Bailey said.

An Aug. 12 letter to students from Dean of Students Jared Tice said the total for students is “woefully under” the college’s goal and encouraged people who had been vaccinated to submit their records to the college health center.

Students and staff who are not vaccinated are required to take a COVID-19 test and submit the results to the college every week. A student could be administratively withdrawn from the college for repeated failure to submit test results, according to the letter from Tice.

The college has for months said it highly recommends people get vaccinated. Previously, Catawba would allow vaccinated people to not wear masks indoors, but now the college will begin the year requiring everyone indoors to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

“We want to have a full college experience for our students and for them to enjoy the experience of college,” Bailey said. “Our best chance of doing that is to have as many people vaccinated as possible.”

Students who are vaccinated by Sept. 18 will be entered into a contest to receive a grant that would cover the cost of a residential room, a meal plan, two $500 gift cards for the college book store and two $250 vouchers for Blue 51.

The college will continue to use masks, enhanced cleaning procedures, hygiene stations and social distance as prevention measures.

Livingstone College, the other four-year institution in Rowan County, announced a vaccine requirement this spring and intends to have 75% of people on campus vaccinated when it start classes in September, as well as offer vaccines to students when they arrive.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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