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Lewis & Clark College to require students show proof of COVID vaccination

The Southwest Portland college will allow exemptions for students with medical or religious reasons.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Since the onset of the pandemic, Lewis & Clark College has made it a priority to offer in-person classes to its thousands of students. 

Junior Rory Bialostosky says he has felt safe on the Southwest Portland campus.

"I think everyone takes it seriously," he said. "All the students. When you're in a building or walking outside, people have a mask on."

The international affairs major, who also sits on the West Linn City Council, says there is also plenty of social distancing in the Lewis & Clark classrooms. 

"The vaccine is the way forward and the way to return to the normal college experience we all like and want," Bialostosky said.

Bialostosky is in support of a new mandate announced by the college Wednesday. By October 15 all students will need to provide proof of vaccination.

"We think if everyone is vaccinated that's going to keep our students healthiest and safest," said John Hancock, Associate Dean of Students for Health and Wellness.

Hancock says the college will honor medical or religious exemptions, but outside of that, all students will need to get fully vaccinated before returning to campus. 

"Our goal, and we hope to partner with OHA and the county around this, is to be able to administer vaccine in the fall when students come back," Hancock said of the students who may have trouble tracking down a vaccine.

KGW reached out to other schools and universities in Oregon to see where they stand on the issue.

University of Portland is monitoring the situation and may have a decision soon.

Oregon State University will not require students to show proof of vaccination. School leaders believe the best way to promote and protect public health is through education of the benefits of vaccines and expanding access to vaccines.

A spokesperson for University of Oregon said in a statement:

"The University of Oregon encourages all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, but does not require vaccinations. The university continues to follow closely public health requirements, best practices and other factors in determining whether vaccinations will be required in the future for those engaging in face-to-face activities at the UO."

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