A box of home COVID-19 tests are available for residents at Colorado College’s South Hall dorm, seen on Dec. 6, 2021. It’s one of the steps the Colorado Springs school has taken to help mitigate the spread of COVID on campus. (Mike Sweeney for Colorado Newsline)
Despite record-high COVID-19 cases in Colorado, many Colorado colleges and universities will stick to their fall semester COVID-19 protocols. At least four schools — CSU Fort Collins, Regis University, University of Denver and Colorado College — will require booster shots. Other schools are encouraging members of the school community to get booster shots.
Here is a look at COVID safety protocols at some of the state’s biggest four-year residential colleges and universities as they enter the new year.
The University of Colorado
The University of Colorado system requires all students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
CU Boulder students and employees who previously submitted a non-medical exemption from the vaccine mandate are required to submit a new “moral” or “ethical” exemption, or upload proof of vaccination by Jan. 1. These exemptions can be requested based on “moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right or wrong that are held sincerely with the strength of traditional religious views,” according to the school’s website.
The school encourages people to get the COVID-19 booster shot, but it does not require it, according to a Dec. 22 message.
CU Boulder, which will continue to host vaccine clinics in the spring semester, will continue to require masks indoors.
New students and employees are required to upload proof of vaccination or an exemption request by Feb. 11.
Students and employees are required to sign a form stating that they are vaccinated or saying they are exempt from the requirement, according to the school’s website. Students are encouraged to upload their vaccine documents, but nobody is required to submit proof of vaccination.
The school has identified a “critical trigger point” for UCCS, or a positive case incidence rate that would result in campus COVID-19 guidelines changing, according to a Dec. 10 message. The incidence rate is the number of positive cases per 100,000 people, per week.
If the campus incidence rate exceeds the rate of El Paso County, then UCCS will require faculty, staff and students to provide vaccine documentation or be tested regularly, according to the message. At the time the update was written, the campus incidence rate was more than 60% lower than the county rate.
As of Dec. 29, there were 372 cases per 100,000 people in El Paso County.
The vaccine and mask mandate at UCCS will remain in place for spring semester, Chris Valentine, the assistant vice chancellor of marketing and communications at UCCS, wrote in an email. There has not been a decision made yet regarding booster requirements.
CU Denver is continuing its current mask mandate for indoor spaces during spring semester.
The school is encouraging — but not requiring — students and employees to get the COVID-19 booster shot.
New students and employees are required to disclose their vaccination status on the school’s website.
University of Colorado Denver and Metropolitan State University of Denver students and employees can get the COVID-19 booster shot on campus at the Health Center at Auraria.
Colorado State University
Both CSU Fort Collins and CSU Pueblo require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Joyce McConnell, president of CSU Fort Collins, announced Thursday that the school is requiring a booster shot for people who are working or learning on campus during the spring semester. “Requiring boosters is not a step we take lightly, but it is critical that we do what we can to stem the spread of Covid infections, particularly as we prepare for the Omicron variant,” McConnell wrote in the email.
New students are required to submit their COVID-19 vaccine records or declare an exemption by Jan. 18.
Masks will continue to be required indoors, Dell Rae Ciaravola, the risk and public safety communications manager at CSU Fort Collins, wrote in an email.
CSU Pueblo is requiring its students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by spring semester. Students, who were able to begin registering for spring semester classes in October, were unable to do so unless they had proof of vaccine or an exemption on file, according to the school’s website.
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Students, faculty and staff at MSU of Denver are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or take weekly COVID-19 tests during the spring semester. Masks continue to be required while indoors.
At this time, the school is not requiring the booster shot, according to its website.*
University of Northern Colorado
The University of Northern Colorado will continue its COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirement for the spring semester and does not expect to make any changes to its current COVID-19 prevention efforts, according to a Dec. 9 message. Students who are enrolled only in online programs are encouraged — but not required — to get vaccinated.
The University of Northern Colorado is hosting a mobile vaccination clinic on Jan. 7, 8, 9 and 10 from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The clinic is open to everyone, including visitors and community members, and appointments are not required. The clinic will offer first, second and booster doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines, flu shots and pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine, according to its website.
The school is not requiring the booster shot for spring semester.
University of Denver
University of Denver will begin the first two weeks of spring semester with remote classes, according to a Dec. 29 message. Residential students can return to campus at any time after Jan. 2, and the fitness center, community commons and library will be open. Classes and meetings will be in-person starting on Jan. 18.
Booster shots will be required by Jan. 31 and the school will host on-campus booster vaccine clinics on Jan. 5, 8 and 12.
Students are required to take an on-campus COVID-19 test after returning from winter break. While awaiting test results, students can move in and pick up food from an assigned location, but they will not have access to campus activities or other buildings until they receive a negative test result, according to a Dec. 23 message. After a student receives their test result, the school will assign them a second test date.
Colorado College is requiring all students and employees who are eligible to get the booster shot by Jan. 3. If students and employees are not yet eligible, they are required to get the booster as soon as they become eligible.
Colorado College operates on a block schedule where students take one class for three and a half weeks. J-block runs from Jan. 3 to 21 and half block runs Jan. 11 to 21. Block 5, the first official block of spring semester, starts Jan. 24 and ends on Feb. 16.
Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order in November that made all adults in Colorado eligible to receive a booster shot if it had been six months since the person received a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months since receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
School officials wrote in a Dec. 28 message that if students are planning to return to campus for the January block, half block or block 5, they are more likely to contract COVID-19 than they were in the fall. “Because Omicron is far more contagious, it may be impossible to immediately identify and contain it,” the message says.
The school is requiring students and employees to wear a “well-fitting high filtration mask, KN95 or similar” during J-block, half block and block 5. Colorado College will provide students with three masks per week.
During the omicron wave, which the school considers to be January, half block and likely block 5, all students are required to be tested for COVID-19 every Monday and Thursday.
Students who test positive and have roommates will be offered isolation housing, but if the roommate also tests positive, they will isolate together in their room. Students who don’t have roommates will isolate in their rooms.
Students who test positive and have family within driving distance may be asked to complete their isolation at home, according to the school’s message.
Regis University requires all on-campus students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated. Students and employees must receive the booster shot by Feb. 1 or six months after getting the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and two months after getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to a Dec. 22 update.
The school will continue to require masks in indoor places. “Masks are highly effective in preventing the spread and do not cause negative health effects,” the school’s website says.
Colorado Christian University
Colorado Christian University does not currently require on-campus students, faculty or staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to its website, which was last updated in November.
The school encourages students and employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and had monthly opportunities for students to get vaccinated during the fall semester.
Under an FAQ section regarding a mask mandate, the school’s website says that on Nov. 23, the Jefferson County Board of Health issued a health order which requires people over the age of 2 to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces in Jefferson County.
Compared to Coloradans who only received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson, Coloradans who get the booster shot are:
- 2.4 times less likely to get infected with COVID-19
- 3.3 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19
Compared to unvaccinated Coloradans, people who get the booster shot are:
- 9.7 times less likely to get infected with COVID-19
- 47.5 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website, which was last updated on Dec. 27.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. COVID-19 has killed more than 821,000 people in the United States, including more than 10,000 in Colorado.
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