Some Virginia universities have started kicking out students who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and other institutions may start following suit.
Virginia Tech disenrolled 134 students this week who did not receive the vaccine. Before that, the University of Virginia disenrolled 288 students, and William & Mary withdrew 42 students for the same reason. All three universities require students be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they receive a medical or religious exemption.
“Of the approximately 37,000 students enrolled at Virginia Tech, 134 students were not in compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, meaning that they did not submit vaccination documentation or receive a medical or religious exemption,” a statement on Virginia Tech’s website read. “These students have been disenrolled. The university does not know whether any of these students were not planning to return for reasons unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.”
Other state universities have policies that require nonexempt students to be vaccinated, including George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Old Dominion University and James Madison University require unvaccinated students who do not receive an exemption or sign an assumption of risk form be regularly tested.
Ginny Cramer, a spokesperson for James Madison University, told The Center Square that students who fail to submit proof of vaccination or to sign the assumption of risk will have their university identification cards deactivated. Those who are not vaccinated will need to take weekly COVID-19 tests and will be removed from classes if three tests are missed.
“Final warnings are being sent to students who have not submitted either proof of vaccination or assumption of risk waiver,” Cramer said. "Many students are already following up to submit documentation. ... Conversations are underway to consider possible further repercussions for those who have not submitted either vaccination documentation or the assumption of risk waiver.”
Despite also having a vaccine requirement, Virginia Commonwealth University has not disenrolled students who failed to get the vaccine. A spokesperson for the university did not respond to a request for comment from The Center Square, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the university will consider disenrolling them.
The Center Square reached out to an Old Dominion University spokesperson, who forwarded an email sent to students that outlined the vaccination rules and testing rules for the unvaccinated. The spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether ODU would disenroll students or how strictly the rules would be enforced.
George Mason University did not respond to a request for comment.
Vaccine requirements have received some pushback from student groups, such as Young Americans for Liberty and Turning Point USA. In June, students affiliated with YAL sent a petition to Virginia Tech, which requested they end the mandate.