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1st ‘deadline’ for college students to get COVID-19 vaccine passes

Updated November 1, 2021 - 5:51 pm

The initial deadline set for Nevada public college and university students to provide proof they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enroll in spring classes passed on Monday, but officials couldn’t say how many complied.

Officials with the Nevada System of Higher Education said they had not yet compiled those numbers.

The early deadline — coinciding with the first day to register for spring classes — wasn’t really a deadline. Students can still present proof of vaccination until registration ends in January.

Chancellor Melody Rose said in a news release Monday the mandate is intended to make in-person learning as safe as possible for both students and staff.

“Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination is the scientifically proven most effective way to protect the health and safety of the NSHE community and end the pandemic,” she said.

In August, the State Board of Health voted to require all students attending Nevada’s higher education institutions be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enroll in spring classes.

Medical and religious exemptions are allowed. And the requirement doesn’t apply to students taking online only-classes.

Students who haven’t provided proof of vaccination against COVID-19 have until the final day of registration: Jan. 14 for UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno, and Jan. 24 for other NSHE campuses, including Nevada State College and College of Southern Nevada.

If students aren’t currently vaccinated, they can still finish their classwork for fall semester, according to the news release.

At UNLV, the university’s chapter of the national conservative student organization Turning Point USA held an event on campus Monday protesting the student vaccination mandate. In addition to about 15 students, the event drew a handful of political candidates, including Noah Malgeri, who’s seeking the Republican nomination in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, and Joey Gilbert, a Republican candidate for governor.

Both said students should be free to make their own decisions about medical treatments.

UNLV, which has approximately 31,000 students, has more than 22,000 student COVID-19 vaccination records completed or in process, university spokesman Tony Allen said Monday via email.

The university has also received about 950 student medical or religious exemption requests, and students will be notified on a rolling basis, he said.

Student COVID-19 vaccination numbers are growing daily as registration for spring semester continues, Allen said, noting UNLV strongly encourages students to upload their immunization records or submit an exemption request “as soon as possible to ensure they’re able to get the classes they need to stay on track to earning their degree.”

CSN and Nevada State College didn’t have student COVID-19 vaccination data available Monday.

“The percentage of students reporting their COVID-19 vaccination is increasing each hour as they attempt to enroll in classes (with class registration beginning today),” Nevada State College Executive Vice Provost Tony Scinta said in a statement to the Review-Journal. “The percentage of students with exemptions is still being determined, with some students going through an appeal process. We believe the numbers will stabilize in the coming weeks, so we should be able to provide an accurate number at that point.”

NSHE employees are facing a Dec. 1 deadline to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, following a September decision by the higher education system’s Board of Regents. Medical and religious exemptions are allowed.

As of Monday, 85 percent of NSHE employees have been vaccinated, according to the system’s website. That leaves 3,500 who aren’t and potentially could be fired.

At UNLV, 82.5 percent of employees are vaccinated, while 86.8 percent are at Nevada State College and 79.2 percent at CSN.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter. Review-Journal photographer Bizuayehu Tesfaye contributed to this report.

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