Guide: Colorado colleges and universities issue COVID rules

CU and CSU require vaccination, but other institutions make it voluntary

By: - August 12, 2021 5:00 am
CU Boulder student studying

A CU Boulder student studies outside the library on the first day of the 2020 fall semester. (Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Editor’s note: This guide was published on August, 12, 2021. It will be updated as necessary to reflect changing COVID-19 protocols for college campuses across Colorado. Last updated: Nov. 17, 2021.

Colleges and universities in Colorado are facing difficulties when it comes to issuing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends institutions of higher education promote the COVID-19 vaccine by offering vaccine clinics on campus or partnering with local vaccination sites. The CDC also encourages colleges and universities to encourage unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors. Some of the state’s schools have gone further.

From mandating the COVID-19 vaccine to requiring unvaccinated individuals to fill out a daily wellness check, Colorado colleges and universities have adopted varied guidelines for the fall 2021 semester.

Here is a look at COVID guidelines at major institutions of higher education in Colorado.

The University of Colorado

The mask mandate at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is still in effect as of Sept. 27, 2021 (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

On April 28, the University of Colorado announced that all of its campuses will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated against COVID-19. CU has four campuses: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, University of Colorado Denver, and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. The CU website states that the university consulted with several public health authorities when making the decision on whether to require the COVID-19 vaccine. “The university has followed guidance from state and local health departments, as well as CU scientists and experts. We believe the science around the vaccines is clear and compelling. The university also consulted with the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Higher Education.” 

The CDC defines fully vaccinated as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after receiving a dose of a single-dose vaccine. 

There will be a process for students and faculty to request a medical or non-medical exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CU website. 

Colorado Springs

All individuals must wear a mask indoors at UCCS, including fully vaccinated people, with the exception of faculty members who are teaching and able to be distanced from attendees, and vaccinated individuals who are able to maintain a 10-foot distance from others, according to an update from UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy on Aug. 6. “We are prepared to adapt these measures if circumstances change. If the resurgence continues and public health recommendations change, we may increase health and safety measures. However, if we see a significant reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases, and if the attestation shows an increase in vaccination rates, I will rescind the face covering executive directive. Until then, we must ensure the safety and well-being of our campus citizens in the middle of this resurgence, and we can only accomplish this by working together,” Reddy wrote. 

“UCCS continues to evaluate all aspects of the pandemic and make changes as needed as we continue to prioritize the safety and well-being of our campus community,” said Jayme McGuire, the assistant director of communications at UCCS. 

The deadline for students, staff and faculty at UCCS to be fully vaccinated is by the start of the fall semester, which was Aug. 23, according to the UCCS website.

Individuals at UCCS must fill out a vaccination attestation or request an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination, but proof of vaccination is not required. 

“The attestation process is being used to gauge our campus community’s progress toward herd immunity. This process has been important in our fall semester planning and is progressing well. Collecting the attestation data allows UCCS to follow up should verification become necessary,” McGuire wrote in an email. 

A sanitation kit at the Kraemer Family Library at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Sept. 27, 2021 (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

Rachel Cauwels was the vice president of the student government association for the 2020-2021 school year, and is a junior at UCCS this year. Cauwels speaks highly of the administration at UCCS in regards to how it handled COVID-19 last year, stating that she was in conversations with administrators almost everyday. “The communication was astounding, I was really, really, impressed with that. I was grateful that they utilized student government in a really positive and impactful way,” said Cauwels, who is fully vaccinated. 

The average student at UCCS was compliant with what UCCS asked last year, especially in regards to the mask policy, according to Cauwels. 

When asked about the new mask mandate being reinstated as of Aug. 9, Cauwels said that for the most part, people at UCCS seem grateful. “I really commend our chancellor for being precautious. These are people’s lives at stake.” 

“The UCCS administration discussed most guidelines last year with Cauwels and Aidan Meadows, former student body president, according to Cauwels. “Every decision that was made was really, really worked over. They saw it from all angles, they asked us about it and we asked other people about it,” Cauwels said. Cauwels and Meadows met with the chancellor at least once a month last year, in addition to meetings with other administrators. 

People entering the El Pomar Center at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Sept. 27, 2021. (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

Unvaccinated individuals who enter the UCCS campus must fill out a daily wellness check. 

UCCS follows guidance from the El Paso Health Department.

In an email sent to community members on Sept. 24, UCCS states that its current attested vaccination rate for students is 74%, and 91% for faculty and staff. Students, faculty, and staff are also able to request an exemption from the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement. 

The email says that campus leadership has identified a “critical trigger point” for UCCS. The trigger point for UCCS is if the number of campus cases per 100,000 is higher than the number of El Paso county cases per 100,000. If this were to happen, students, staff, and faculty members would be required to provide proof of vaccination or be tested for COVID-19 “regularly.” The positive case rate for the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is 40% lower than the El Paso county positivity rate, according to the email. 


Everyone must wear a mask indoors at CU Denver, with the exception of fully vaccinated individuals who are able to maintain a distance of 10 feet, and faculty who are teaching and are able to maintain a distance from attendees, according to an update from CU Denver on Aug. 6. The message also states that about 87% of CU Denver students have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and that 97% of employees who have already disclosed their vaccination status have been vaccinated. 

The majority of classes, events, and activities will be in-person this semester, according to Ryan Huff, communications director at CU Denver. “We feel that our campus has done an amazing job prioritizing safety, getting vaccinated, and we believe the combination of our strong vaccine rates, with masks, will help prevent the spread of coronavirus, and more recently, the delta variant.”

The response from CU Denver students, faculty, and staff in regards to CU Denver’s COVID-19 policies for the fall semester has been largely positive, according to Huff. 

“We’re encouraging everyone on our campus and everyone across the metro region and the state to get vaccinated. It’s a very important step to helping to reduce the spread of this latest variant. It’s really a community-wide effort that’s needed to reduce the spread as much as possible,” Huff said. 

Students, staff, and faculty at CU Denver were required to report their vaccination status online by Aug. 27, according to the CU Denver COVID-19 website. Unvaccinated individuals must participate in weekly COVID-19 testing, as well as complete a daily online health check. CU Denver requires that individuals who are requesting an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement “submit to routine COVID-19 testing during the fall semester beginning Aug. 23,” according to its website


The deadline for students, faculty, and staff at CU Boulder to complete the process for the COVID-19 vaccine requirement was Sept. 15. The process for completing the vaccine requirement is for students, faculty and staff to either submit proof of vaccination or to submit a vaccine exemption form. Classes at CU Boulder started Aug. 23. The majority of classes at CU Boulder will be taught in person, according to its website

Masks are required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, the CU Boulder Pandemic Response Office announced on Aug. 10. Some exceptions include vaccinated researchers who are working in a lab and are at least six feet away from the closest person, as well as vaccinated faculty who are teaching indoors and are at least 6 feet away from the closest person. The mask requirement was effective Aug. 13. 

“Student government can’t stress enough how important it is to think about your fellow community members at a time like this. Meaning, to follow all campus guidelines, like wearing your mask when it is expected, and getting vaccinated if you are able to do so,” said Taylor Weinsz, one of three student body presidents at CU Boulder. “The quickest way out of this situation is by following the advice of public health officials and by keeping the safety of our community in mind.” 

CU Boulder student government worked remotely last year and through this summer, but is planning to return to their office on campus in the fall, while following all campus guidelines, including wearing masks, Weinsz said. 

According to the CU Boulder Today, the campus newsletter, 95% of students who had submitted their information had received the COVID-19 vaccine as of Sept. 23, and of CU Boulder employees who had completed the form requirements, 96% of them had received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

In a Sept. 23 update, CU Boulder wrote that between Aug. 24 and Sept. 25, 2020, CU Boulder recorded 1,019 positive PCR tests, and between Aug. 23 and Sept. 22, 2021, CU Boulder recorded 57 positive PCR tests.

Colorado State University

The Colorado State University system left the decision of whether to require a vaccine up to its three individual campuses: CSU Fort Collins, CSU Pueblo, and CSU Global. 

On Aug. 11, CSU Fort Collins announced that students, staff, and faculty must submit proof of vaccination, or request an exemption, by Aug. 18.

More than 20,000 CSU Fort Collins students are fully vaccinated, according to the Aug. 11 message from Joyce McConnell, the president of CSU Fort Collins. 

CSU Fort Collins also instituted a mask mandate for all individuals indoors, regardless of vaccination status. “Once again, CSU is mandating vaccines, screenings and masks on our campuses, effective immediately,” McConnell wrote. 

This is a change from the original position on April 28, when the CSU system announced that both CSU Pueblo and CSU Fort Collins would require students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by fall semester only if one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines received full FDA approval. 

“The university anticipates that a vaccine will be fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at some point in the fall, and then the requirement will be implemented. Until the FDA has fully approved a vaccine, the university will continue to strongly encourage all of our students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated,” wrote the pandemic preparedness team to the CSU community on July 27. 

CSU Fort Collins on-campus student vaccine stats as of Oct. 29:

98.4% of on-campus students have submitted their vaccine status or declared an exemption 

89.5% of on-campus students are fully or partially vaccinated

9% of on-campus students have received an exemption

According to the COVID-19 information and resources page on the CSU Fort Collins website

CSU Fort Collins is not aware of any COVID-19 cases spreading through “academic contact” such as a classroom, the Pandemic Preparedness Team wrote in an Oct. 19 message. The main source of COVID-19 spread is through small gatherings.

Natural immunity is not accepted as a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Because one or more of the vaccines has not yet moved out of emergency use authorization and received the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval — a prerequisite of our CSU System COVID-19 vaccine requirement — the vaccination will continue to be voluntary and will not be required for the fall semester,” wrote Donna Souder Hodge, the chief strategy officer and COVID-19 response and planning coordinator of CSU Pueblo in a message to the CSU Pueblo community on July 24. 

The message from Hodge also states that unvaccinated individuals are “strongly encouraged to wear a mask indoors or when in close contact with others,” and will be required to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. 

In an Aug. 30 update, CSU Pueblo President Timothy Mottet wrote that effective immediately, students, guests, and employees, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask indoors, with the exception of individuals in private office spaces or who are eating or drinking. 

In 2020, part of CSU Pueblo’s COVID-19 protocols included a list of “triggers” that would result in a change in campus COVID-19 restrictions, the update says. These triggers included “changes or heightened risk to K-12 policies or remote operations,” and federal, state or local public health orders that mandate changes to protocols. On Aug. 27, the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment issued a public health order that mandated masks for anyone 2 or older while indoors at youth camps, pre-K through 12th grade schools, and child care centers in Pueblo County. 

Colorado State University Pueblo Tower campus in Colorado Springs on Sept. 27, 2021 (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

The update also said that because the FDA had approved the Pfizer vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine is required at CSU Pueblo. Students must have proof of vaccination or an exemption on file to register for spring semester classes, according to the CSU Pueblo website. CSU Pueblo employees must have proof of vaccination or an exemption on file by Nov. 15. 

CSU Pueblo hosted weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinics every Wednesday and Thursday in September, at the Wolfpack Wellness Center Pavilion. The vaccines were available to CSU Pueblo students, employees, and partners, according to its website

The CSU Pueblo website says that housing employees, instructors, colleagues and supervisors should not ask students or employees about their vaccine status. 

CSU Global is an entirely online program, and classes and start dates currently remain unchanged, according to its website. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CSU Global has temporarily changed its policy to accept transfer credits of passing and satisfactory that were earned during the spring and summer 2020 semesters. Prior to this change, CSU Global required that a transcript indicate whether the passing or satisfactory grade was equivalent to a 70% or higher, according to its website

University of Northern Colorado

University of Northern Colorado, a public school in Greeley, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for community members who will access the campus during the fall semester. This includes students and staff attending in-person classes, students who live on campus, or students or staff who participate in any on-campus activities. Last spring, UNC announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for the fall semester contingent on at least one vaccine receiving full approval by the FDA. On Aug. 9, UNC announced that the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for fall semester even if a vaccine does not receive full FDA approval by the start of the semester. “Public health experts anticipate that one or more of the vaccines will be approved in the coming weeks. With this anticipated approval and the rise of the Covid-19 Delta variant — which is highly contagious and is resulting in a rise in cases, illness and hospitalizations globally — UNC is continuing with its vaccination requirement policy deadline of Aug. 15, 2021, without waiting for any further action by the FDA,” the website states.  

Students were required to submit their COVID-19 vaccine records or request an exemption by Aug. 15. According to the UNC website, students who have not submitted COVID-19 vaccine records that confirm they have received at least one dose or have not received an exemption to the requirement by Sep. 3 will be “out of compliance with this policy and subject to penalties.” These penalties include being dropped from their full course schedule, according to the COVID-19 section of the website. Employees who have not been granted an exemption or have not confirmed that they have received at least one dose by Aug. 23 will be “subjected to disciplinary action up to and including termination in accordance with existing disciplinary processes for the applicable employee classification,” according to the website

Unvaccinated employees and students who have been granted an exemption to the vaccine requirement will be required to participate in regular COVID-19 testing, as well as quarantine for 14 days if it is determined that the unvaccinated student or staff has been a close contact of a positive case. 

UNC is requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

Colorado Community College System

Colorado Community College System has 13 colleges with over 35 locations throughout Colorado. CCCS educates over 125,000 students annually and is Colorado’s largest system of higher education, according to its website. The CCCS includes Pikes Peak Community College, Front Range Community College, Otero Junior College, and the Community College of Aurora, as well as several others across the state. In an Aug. 16 announcement, the Colorado Community College System announced that all individuals using the system office facilities must wear a mask. Employees working at the system office facilities must also practice social distancing. 

In an April 28 announcement, Joe Garcia, chancellor of the Colorado Community College System announced that the CCCS will not require COVID-19 vaccines for students or staff for the fall semester. 

On July 21, Amazon and CCCS announced that the Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges will award two scholarships of $5,000, and five $1,000 scholarships “at each of the System’s 13 colleges to students who are enrolled and attest to being fully vaccinated by mid-September. In total, CCCS and Amazon will award 67 scholarships to community college students.” 

Garcia announced in an Oct. 7 message that for the spring 2022 semester, students, faculty, and staff who work on-campus or attend on-campus classes on Colorado community college campuses will be required to provide results from “regular COVID-19 testing” or submit proof of vaccination. 

“Students who choose not to undergo regular testing or submit proof of vaccination have the option of taking a wide range of remote courses that do not require their presence on our campuses,” Garcia wrote. 

Pikes Peak Community College is strongly recommending COVID-19 vaccines, but is not requiring students or faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19, with the exception of some departments which are requiring the vaccine, according to its website

The nursing department and the Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy are requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This is because of the close physical interaction required in this curriculum, said the communications coordinator of PPCC, Karen Kovaly, in an email. Additionally, hospitals require nursing students to be vaccinated when the students go there to do their clinicals. “The deans and department chairs are the decision-makers about this,” Kovaly wrote. 

In a message to the PPCC community on July 20, PPCC President Lance Bolton wrote that masks are required for unvaccinated people and are not required for vaccinated people. “Masks are required for those not vaccinated, however, we are not taking on the role as a college of trying to police who has been vaccinated and who has not. We are using an honor system for this practice. We will support anyone who chooses to wear a mask.”

Masks have been required for everyone on PPCC campuses since Aug. 16, regardless of vaccination status.

Front Range Community College is one of CCCS’ community colleges with campuses throughout Colorado. Front Range Community College’s main campus is in Westminster, and is requiring masks in all indoor public spaces, effective Aug. 10, according to a message to the FRCC community from president Andrew Dorsey. The message also states that about 74% of the on-campus study body is vaccinated. 

Individuals on the Front Range Community College campuses are required to continue practicing 6 feet of social distancing, according to its website. 

Front Range Community College is encouraging all members of the FRCC community to get vaccinated but is not requiring the vaccine. FFCC hosted vaccine clinics on Aug. 25 (Larimer campus) and Aug. 26 (Boulder and Westminster campuses). Individuals who participated in these clinics were asked to wear a mask at the testing site and to bring a photo ID. 

Your safety is our priority. If we deem that it is no longer in the best interest of our FRCC community to keep our campuses open, we will implement plans to finish the semester remotely,” the website states. 

FRCC is not requiring students to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but on-campus students who are not vaccinated will be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests and upload the results during the spring semester.

For the spring 2022 semester, FRCC students will have the choice to submit evidence that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, agree to take weekly COVID-19 tests and submit the test results, or take online classes. The deadline to upload proof of vaccination is Jan. 7, 2022.

Students who won’t share their vaccination information or agree to take weekly COVID-19 tests and submit the results will not be able to attend on-campus courses, according to the COVID-19 protocol section on the FRCC website. These students must fill out a form agreeing to only take online or remote classes. If students do not fill out this form, they will be dropped from all classes on Jan. 7, 2022. 

Otero Junior College, located in La Junta, is requiring students who will live on campus, participate on Otero College athletic teams, or participate in “designated health sciences programs” be vaccinated or receive an exemption, but the COVID-19 vaccine is not required for students who don’t fall into one or more of these three categories, according to the website. The deadline for these students to either submit their COVID-19 vaccine record or request an exemption is the day they move on campus, if living on campus, or the day they begin classes. 

If a student does not submit a COVID-19 immunization record or receive an exemption, they will not be permitted to live on-campus in the residence halls, participate on college athletic teams, or participate in designated health sciences programs.” Students who are granted an exemption to the vaccine requirement may be required to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing. Unvaccinated students who receive an immunization exemption “may be kept out of Otero College residence halls and kept from participation on student athletic teams or designated health sciences programs during a disease outbreak,” according to the website. 

In an Aug. 13 update, Otero Junior College asked students and staff to wear face coverings for indoor group settings.

Otero Junior College is extending its mask requirement indefinitely, according to a Sept. 27 update on its website. The website says that the Otero Public Health Department considers 70% vaccination to be herd immunity, and if the campus community gets to the herd immunity threshold of 70%, the College will lift the mask mandate. 

Community College of Aurora is not requiring COVID-19 vaccines for its students or staff for fall 2021, with the exception of the Colorado Film School, which will require employees of Colorado Film School to be fully vaccinated because of Denver’s vaccination mandate, according to its website. Denver’s vaccination mandate requires certain city workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30. Colorado Film School students are not required to be vaccinated. 

The Community College of Aurora is recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for all community members, according to its website. “That all being said, CCA is still highly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. The vaccine has shown to slow the spread of COVID-19, and as the new Delta variant has emerged and continues to spread, getting vaccinated is important now more than ever. Even if you don’t believe the virus poses much of a threat to you personally (and your family), please still consider getting vaccinated to reduce the risk for others,” Mordecal Brownlee, president of the Community College of Aurora, wrote in an Aug 11. message to the CCA community. 

The Community College of Aurora is requiring all individuals to wear masks indoors, with the exception of faculty presenting and students studying alone in a room. The school is not requiring any social distancing, according to its website.

Unvaccinated students and employees at the Community College of Aurora who attend in-person classes or work on-campus will be required to provide weekly COVID-19 test results during the spring 2022 semester. Over the next several weeks, the school is going to implement a system for students and employees to submit proof of vaccination records. 

The Community College of Aurora is not requiring students or employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but students and staff in the following programs are required to have the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CCAurora website: nursing assistant, healthcare professionals, EMT program, paramedic program, film video, theater, fire academy, and police academy.

U.S. Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy is requiring all students, staff, faculty, and visitors to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The Secretary of Defense has announced his plan to request a waiver from President Joe Biden to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for active duty, as well as cadets, according to the COVID-19 section of the Air Force Academy website. “If a vaccine receives full FDA approval before mid-September then the Secretary has the authority to make the vaccine mandatory,” the website states. 

Adams State University

Adams State University, a public university located in Alamosa, said that it would require the COVID-19 vaccine once there is full approval by the FDA, according to the Adams State University website. The website also stated that “an estimated 60 percent of Adams State employees have already been fully vaccinated and we are expecting to increase this percentage over the next couple of months. Any faculty or staff member who has not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine should do so before the start of the fall semester in August.” 

Because the FDA has approved Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Adams State University required students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15, according to an Aug. 24 Adams State University update.

Masks are required in indoor public spaces. Most indoor spaces on campus will be at 100% capacity. 

Unvaccinated students are required to take COVID-19 tests weekly, beginning the week of Oct. 18. Students who are required to take weekly COVID-19 tests but fail to do so will be “subject to disciplinary action through the Student Code of Conduct,” according to an Oct. 15 update.

Aims Community College

Aims Community College is requiring face masks in all indoor spaces. Aims Community College will be 100% fully operational, and there are no social distance requirements, according to the website. Aims Community College will be at 100% capacity as well. 

Aims Community College is recommending everyone get the COVID-19 vaccine, but is not requiring it for fall semester. “Please note, Aims is encouraging, but not requiring, everyone to get vaccinated. We realize this is a personal and private medical decision,” the website states

Colorado Christian University

Colorado Christian University, a private Christian school, encourages students and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but is not requiring it, according to its website.“While Colorado Christian University does not currently require students, faculty, or staff to be vaccinated, the University encourages students and employees to receive the vaccine when made available. The University has followed and will continue to follow CDC recommendations to maintain a safe and effective learning and working environment.”

Colorado College

Colorado College, a private liberal arts school in Colorado Springs, is requiring all students, staff, and faculty to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline for Colorado College students and employees to submit proof of vaccination or an exemption was Aug. 1. As of July 28, 75% of employees uploaded their proof of vaccination or exemption, and of those almost 95% are vaccinated, according to a message to employees from Laurie Mozingo, the acting director of human resources, and Barbara Wilson, the associate vice president for administrative services.

Colorado College campus
Armstrong Hall at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, pictured Oct. 16, 2020. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

Students who are not fully vaccinated must follow the “enhanced social distancing protocols” for seven days, which entails receiving a COVID-19 test upon arrival on campus and taking a COVID-19 test seven days after arriving on campus. Students in enhanced social distancing should only leave their rooms to pick up food until they get negative results from their second COVID-19 test, according to the CC COVID-19 website

All individuals on the Colorado College campus must wear a mask indoors, with the exception of student residences and one-person private offices. 

Some gatherings are held underneath tents outside Palmer Hall at Colorado College. Photo taken Sept. 28, 2021. (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

In an email sent to Colorado College community members on Sept. 24, the COVID-19 Policy & Implementation Committee wrote that 97% of faculty members are vaccinated, 97% of students are vaccinated, and 89% of staff are vaccinated against COVID-19. 

On Sept. 15, Colorado College announced its new COVID-19 policies for public events on campus beginning on Sept. 18. Anyone age 12 or older attending a school-sponsored indoor public event will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result, as well as a valid photo ID. The Colorado College website says that anyone 3 or older is required to wear a mask while indoors. Colorado College students are not allowed to have off-campus guests inside residential buildings. 

In an email sent to community members on Sept. 27, Colorado College informed students that beginning the following week, CC community members will be able to get a flu shot at the student health center.

As of Sept. 27, Colorado College departments and programs are allowed to host visitors on campus. This includes school-sponsored guests, such as guest speakers and prospective students, as well as visitors invited by current students. Departments hosting visitors are asked to keep a log of when official visitors were on campus, as well as their contact information, for contact tracing purposes. 

Visitors are not allowed in residential buildings. 

Masks are still required at Colorado College in downtown Colorado Springs. Photo taken Sept. 27, 2021. (Julia Fennell/Colorado Newsline)

Unvaccinated students are not allowed to travel for block breaks. CC runs on a block schedule where students take one class for three and a half weeks, and then have a four-day break prior to starting the next block. The website says that students who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for a week once they have returned to campus, and therefore they are not allowed to travel during block breaks. Students who must travel due to an emergency or who travel with their class for academic reasons will be tested daily for seven days upon returning to campus, according to the Colorado College COVID-19 website

At least one outbreak of COVID-19 cases at CC this year has been connected to “large parties,” according to an Oct. 19 message from Colorado College. The school also announced that they reimplemented the party registration form, which they said must be filled out by anyone hosting a party on or off campus. 

Colorado College said that in addition to COVID-19, there are other “infectious diseases circulating in our community,” specifically noting that the student health center has had multiple confirmed cases of strep throat and the common cold.

There were 88 COVID-19 cases at CC between Nov. 3 and 9, according to the school’s COVID-19 dashboard

In a Nov. 5 message, CC said they have seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in connection with “large social gatherings.” 

In a Nov. 9 message, the school’s new president, L. Song Richardson, wrote that the increase in students receiving positive test results “stems from Halloween parties where students were indoors and unmasked.”

The Catalyst, CC’s independent student newspaper, wrote on Nov. 11 that “at least one” student wonders if the spread of COVID-19 could “be linked to mass indoor gatherings taking place at hockey games in the new Ed Robson Arena.”

There were 65 positive COVID-19 cases at CC between Nov. 10 and 16.

Colorado Mesa University 

Colorado Mesa University, a public university in Grand Junction, is not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students, faculty, or staff for fall 2021, according to its website. “Our approach is not one of forced compliance, but of engagement, education and empowerment to utilize critical thinking to make informed choices.” 

Students and staff at Colorado Mesa University who have been vaccinated are asked to voluntarily upload their vaccination records. Students and staff who have not been vaccinated but had a positive PCR test result last year or have a positive antibody test are asked to upload the test results and the COVID-19 response team will be in touch if the students or staff are required to do any further testing. Staff who did not have a positive PCR result and have not been vaccinated will be part of Colorado Mesa University’s random COVID-19 testing protocols, according to the website. Students who do not have a positive PCR test result or antibody test are required to show a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to moving on campus, or 72 hours prior to the start of classes for students not living on campus. Classes began Aug. 23. Students who do not want to be tested are required to sign a COVID-19 test waiver and will not have access to any campus facilities or campus events, according to the website.

In a Sept. 17 update, CMU wrote “Based on the Student Wellness Center data and symptoms logged in SCOUT, we are experiencing an increase in medical visits for illnesses with symptoms similar to COVID-19 from our campus community.”

CMU is operating at alert level green, which means “transmission levels are low and not taxing the institutions or community resources,” according to CMU’s COVID-19 dashboard. As of Oct. 8, there were 81 positive cases in the previous two weeks. Because CMU takes into account natural immunity, the website says that the campus has a calculated protective immunity of 80%-90%. Fifty-five percent of CMU community members are vaccinated, according to the website. 

Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College will require students who live in residence halls, participate in athletics, or enrolled in academic programs such as health care, public safety and first responder to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to its website. These students will be required to submit proof of vaccination. Students who do not fit into these categories, as well as staff and faculty, are encouraged — but not required — to be vaccinated, according to the CMC COVID-19 website. Students have been required to wear masks on CMC campuses since Aug. 18. The website says the mask requirement is not permanent. 

Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines, a public university in Golden, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccination. All students, staff, and faculty working or studying on the Colorado School of Mines campus “should be fully or partially vaccinated, or have filed an exemption, by the start of the fall semester on August 23, 2021,” according to its website. The website also stated that Colorado School of Mines’ leadership “anticipates a full return to in-person classes and vibrant on-campus living and learning in Fall 2021.”

In an Oct. 28 update, Colorado School of Mines announced that because Mines receives federal funding, Mines is subject to President Joe Biden’s executive order that directs federal departments and agencies to comply with workplace safety guidances. According to the COVID-19 vaccination section on the Mines website, the federal vaccination requirement is similar to the campus vaccination requirement, but non-religious personal belief exemptions are not allowed under the federal requirement. Additionally, Mines employees will have to satisfy the federal vaccine requirement by the end of the fall semester, regardless of if the employee is working on campus or not.

Fort Lewis College

Fort Lewis College, a public school in Durango, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students, faculty, and staff for fall 2021. Students are required to upload proof of vaccination or an exemption request by the beginning of fall semester. Students are required to have at least one dose of a two-dose vaccine by the beginning of the semester, according to the Fort Lewis College website

Classes began Aug. 30. Students who are taking online classes only and will not be on campus are not required to upload proof of vaccination. 

Unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff are required to be tested weekly, as well as wear a mask indoors, and practice physical distancing, according to its website. 

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver, a public university in Denver, is requiring everyone who will access campus during the fall semester to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to its website. MSU Denver employees were required to submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 18. Additionally, students who were vaccinated outside of Colorado were required to submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 18. Students who have been vaccinated in Colorado were not required to submit proof of vaccination. 

“MSU Denver believes that requiring COVID-19 vaccines will support the health and safety of our campus community. Additionally, a vaccination requirement is critical to achieving our goal of having an on-campus experience and the academic success, equity and personal growth that comes with it,” the website states. 

Unvaccinated individuals on campus had to start participating in weekly COVID-19 testing beginning the week of Aug. 23. Staff members and students who work or attend classes remotely are not required to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Fully vaccinated students and staff are not required to participate in testing, according to the website. 

In an Aug. 6 letter to the MSU Denver community, Janine Davidson, the president of MSU Denver, and Larry Sampler, the chair of the Safe Return to Campus Committee, announced a new mask mandate for all individuals on campus, regardless of vaccination status. The mask mandate requires everyone to wear a mask indoors, with the exception of employees in private offices online, and vaccinated individuals who are able to maintain 6 feet of distance. Masks are not required outdoors. 

Eighty-eight percent of on-campus students at Metropolitan State University of Denver were vaccinated as of Oct. 4, according to the MSU Denver COVID-19 dashboard. Ninety-six percent of employees at MSU Denver are vaccinated as of Sept. 27. MSU Denver’s weekly positivity rate for Oct. 4 was 1%. 

Classes at MSU Denver began Aug. 23.

Naropa University

Naropa University, a private, “Buddhist-inspired,” university, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all members of the community participating in any on-campus activities in the fall semester. Students and staff are required to submit proof of vaccination or file for an exemption prior to the first day of the semester, according to the website. If students and staff do not upload their documents by Aug. 23, they will be listed as a “remote student” or “remote staff person” and will not have access to campus, according to its website. Students who are enrolled in fully online programs are not required to submit proof of vaccination or file an exemption. 

All individuals on the Naropa University campus are required to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals working alone in private offices and students living in residence halls do not need to wear masks while in these indoor private settings. 

There will not be any social distancing requirements at Naropa University this fall, and classrooms will be at “pre-Covid occupancy limits,” according to the website. Residence halls will also be at maximum capacity. Additionally, Naropa University is not offering COVID-19 testing on campus in the fall semester. 

In a letter to the campus community, the Naropa Board of Trustees voiced their support for the vaccine requirement for the fall semester. “As Trustees, our role is governance-related, and we don’t typically participate in operational decisions. It is appropriate to leave such decisions to the administration to design and implement. That said, the global pandemic — amidst other layered crises — has presented deeply personal challenges for so many of us, especially those who are most vulnerable and at risk. To be clear: amidst diverse opinions, the Board of Trustees is in support of the Naropa University vaccination requirement for Fall 2021.”

In an undated message regarding the plan for Spring 2022, Naropa University announced that beginning with the spring 2022 semester in January, the school will hold all residential courses in person on the Boulder campuses and partner retreat sites. 

“While we were hoping to return to pre-Covid operations with Covid-19 eradicated, it is clear that our lives will continue to be impacted by this virus for an unknown amount of time,” the update says. “To the hundreds of students who are enrolled in our residential university, we have made a commitment to provide an in-person learning community, and we are taking many steps to further enhance that experience for the next semester.”

Spring semester begins on Jan. 10. 

The message says that the COVID-19 vaccination rate for the residential Naropa student body is 82%.

Regis University

Regis University, with three campuses around Denver, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for the fall 2021 semester. Individuals will be able to apply for an exemption from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Members of the Regis University community who are fully online are encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine but are not required to do so. 

Regis University students, staff, and faculty are required to upload proof of vaccination. In response to a question asking why the university is requiring proof of the COVID-19 vaccine when faculty and staff are not required to show proof of other vaccines like measles, mumps and rubella, Regis University wrote that the decision is “based on guidance from public health experts. We are in a deadly global pandemic, which necessitates taking extra precaution to ensure the health and safety of our community.” 

In a Sept. 16 update, Regis University announced that a mask mandate will be extended indefinitely and the university will implement registration holds for students who have not reported their vaccination status by Sept. 30. “As Pope Francis said, ‘Being vaccinated … is an act of love. And contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love.’ We need everyone to do their part, love their community and get vaccinated,” John Fitzgibbons, president of Regis University, wrote at the conclusion of the update. “It is part of our foundational Jesuit principles to serve others, and getting vaccinated is just that: A service to our community.”

University of Denver

University of Denver, a private school in Denver, requires the COVID-19 vaccine for members of the DU community who will be on campus in the fall. There were 11 positive tests between July 29 and Aug. 4 at DU, according to the university’s dashboard

DU has a 96% COVID-19 vaccination rate, according to a Sept. 17 update from COVID-19 coordinator Sarah Watamura. In the message, Watamura wrote that since Sept. 4, 40% of positive COVID-19 cases were of undergraduate students, 50% were graduate students, and 10% were faculty and staff. 

DU is also requiring students, faculty and staff who live, work, or attend classes on campus to get the flu vaccine. This will be a permanent requirement, according to the DU health and counseling website. People can request a medical, personal or religious exemption from the flu vaccine requirement.

It is believed that last year was the first year the University of Denver required the flu shot, Jon Stone, media relations manager for DU, wrote in an email.

People who do not have the flu vaccine and have not been approved for an exemption from the requirement will not have access to campus, according to the website. The deadline to submit proof of vaccination for the flu shot, or to be approved for an exemption from the requirement, is Dec. 15. Visiting students and scholars are required to get a flu shot. 

Western Colorado University

Western Colorado University, a public school located in Gunnison, is requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for the fall semester. Unvaccinated students, staff, and faculty must be tested for COVID-19 once a week, beginning Aug. 23. 

As of Aug. 16, Western Colorado University is temporarily requiring masks indoors in public spaces, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. Public spaces include academic and administrative buildings, classrooms, indoor recreational spaces, buses and vans, and hallways, according to its website. Individuals are not required to wear a mask indoors in residence halls and private offices. 

Western Colorado University is requiring students, faculty and staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but will allow exemptions for “health, religious or other reasons,” according to its website.

Unvaccinated students, faculty and staff are required to take a weekly COVID-19 test. Western Colorado University’s COVID-19 website says that people who are required to test weekly and do not will be given a $50 charge assessed to their account for each week they don’t get tested. 

“I kindly ask that we be mindful that not everyone is vaccinated,” wrote Abel Chávez, the vice president for enrollment and student success at Western Colorado University, in an Oct. 15 message. “This may be due to medical reasons, or simply a choice based on religious or personal beliefs—that is okay. To accommodate this, we have a testing policy in place for our unvaccinated brothers and sisters.”

“I encourage all of us to practice compassion toward everyone, and to withhold judgement, because not all of us make the same choices. We wish to eliminate all forms of discrimination or segregation.”


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