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Local colleges, universities share their COVID-19 vaccination, masking policies for the fall semester

Some area colleges are requiring students and staff to be vaccinated; others are not. Many are requiring masks to be worn indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Note: The video is from August 5.

With many students returning to college in the coming weeks, Central Pennsyvlania's colleges and universities are beginning to announce their COVID-19 safety measures and requirements for the upcoming fall semester.

Here's a list of the policies FOX43 has received thus far. The list will be updated as more information becomes available.

Millersville University

The following mitigation measures are in effect beginning Monday, Aug. 9:

  • Face coverings will be required for both fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals while indoors when it’s not possible to maintain social distance. Face coverings will be required in classrooms and other common spaces, such as hallways and meeting areas. Individuals are not required to wear face coverings in residence hall suites or when alone in offices. 
  • Privacy– Millersville is currently not requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, although it is highly recommended. Students who have received the COVID-19 vaccine should provide Health Services with a copy of their vaccine card. Employees who have been vaccinated will not be asked to provide this information. Supervisors and employees should not ask their employees and coworkers whether they have been vaccinated. Likewise, faculty and staff should not ask students about their vaccination status. Regarding face coverings, please respect the decision of some individuals who are fully vaccinated who wish to continue to wear them in public or private settings.

To read Millersville University's COVID-19 protocols for the fall semester in their entirety, go here.

Franklin & Marshall College


  • Everyone – regardless of vaccination status – must wear masks in indoor public spaces on campus starting Monday, August 16. This mask mandate will be in effect through at least the first two weeks of classes (until Friday, September 10).


Franklin & Marshall follows the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College Health Association that comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination will be the most effective way for our community to enjoy a safe and robust on-campus experience this fall. 

Like hundreds of other colleges and in accordance with the ACHA's recommendation, F&M is requiring all enrolled students present on campus to receive, and to provide proof of having received, a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Faculty, professional staff, and contractors working part-time or full-time at F&M also have a vaccination requirement.

The CDC recommends that those who already have had COVID-19 should still be vaccinated, because experts do not yet know how long they are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you already have recovered from COVID-19, it is possible -- although rare -- that you could again be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Studies also show that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in those who have recovered from COVID-19.

F&M’s masking protocol will depend on a campus alert level system that will be impacted by various factors including campus indicators and local COVID-19 transmission levels. This means that our campus alert level is targeted to the F&M community and may not directly align with the CDC’s broader alert level categories. This is how the alert level will impact masking requirements:

  • When our campus alert level is low or moderate, masks are optional for fully vaccinated individuals. For individuals who are not fully vaccinated, masks are required in indoor spaces and when outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • When our campus alert level is at high or very high, masks are required regardless of vaccination status in indoor spaces and when outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Currently, F&M’s campus alert level is moderate. However, Lancaster is an area of increasing COVID-19 transmission and we are closely monitoring the situation. F&M will announce any changes to our alert level, masking protocol and other safety measures. It is essential that everyone – vaccinated or not – bring masks to campus. 

Regardless of the College’s alert level, many fully vaccinated people will want to continue wearing face masks, and we should all respect their choice to do so. Individuals who choose to wear masks should not be questioned about them, nor should they be discouraged or prohibited from wearing them. We must all be respectful of others’ health concerns. In addition, no one may mandate masking or other public health protocols for other members of our community that contravene College policy. This includes faculty making rules for their classrooms.

For more information, go here.

Elizabethtown College

Elizabethtown College strongly encourages all members of its campus community to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, we are not requiring individuals to be vaccinated however with our top priorities being the safety and wellbeing of our campus community, we are requesting all employees and students to submit proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status in order to be exempt from additional protocols such as surveillance testing and daily health monitoring. (Currently, we are not in a position to make a decision on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines due to the emergency use authorization. If the FDA grants formal approval, we will revisit.)

In addition, non-vaccinated students must show the College proof of a negative COVID-19 test result from being tested within 72 hours of their move-in/check-in date. (The College will assist any student who may have financial/logistical hardship to secure testing.) 

We have also shared with our student body that the COVID-19 vaccination may be required to participate in some activities and programs, such as study abroad, clinicals, and athletics.

We will continue to monitor guidance shared by state and federal agencies, specifically for higher education institutions on face masking and social distancing, and may make adjustments to our plans as needed.

For more information on Elizabethtown College's COVID-19 protocols, go here.

Lancaster Bible College

Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School is implementing the following precautions to keep our Lancaster campus and other locations open and as safe as possible:

  • Testing:  The Lancaster campus residential students and all student athletes must provide a negative COVID-19 test result less than 72 hours old upon arrival on campus OR complete a COVID-19 test with the Office of Health and Wellness upon arrival.  Our two semesters of data show that incidence rates are typically higher among these populations.  Additionally, student athletes (residential and commuter) will follow the testing protocols of the United East Athletic Conference.
  • Positive tests:  Students or employees who test positive for COVID-19 at any time will be asked to stay home or return home to isolate as in previous semesters for the time determined by campus director of health and wellness.   Contact tracing and quarantining will be conducted as in previous semesters.
  • Vaccination: LBC | Capital does not require students or employees to report their vaccination status. Vaccination decisions remain the choice of each student and employee. We respect these choices.  We will assist students who decide to receive the COVID-19 vaccination with scheduling and transportation to and from a vaccination site.
  • Masking: Masking decisions remain the choice of each student and employee. We respect these choices, and we ask all people on campus to show grace and respect to those whose choice is different from their own.
  • Distancing: All facilities on the Lancaster campus, including dining and residence halls, will operate at full capacity. We ask students and employees to use wisdom by increasing distance as circumstances allow.
  • Cleaning: The campus will continue its practice of enhanced cleaning.
  • Hygiene: Wash hands frequently. Cover face when coughing or sneezing.
  • Self-screening. All people are reminded not to bring symptoms to work or to class.  Anyone who does not feel well should stay home and notify their supervisor (employees) or their professors for that day and the campus director of health and wellness (students).

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this academic year. Vaccination information must be uploaded to Medicat, the College’s HIPPA-compliant electronic medical records system in health services. 

A small group of students have been approved for a medical or religious exemption. Please know that students must either be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption to arrive on campus for the fall semester. Students will be withdrawn from their classes if they are not fully vaccinated or have a College-approved exemption.

Unvaccinated students are required to follow additional mitigation strategies, including masking, quarantining, and surveillance testing.

Unvaccinated students are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth in all College facilities and indoor spaces, including within any College-owned vehicle when with another passenger. Indoor spaces include all academic buildings, administrative buildings, classrooms, Jaeger Center, dining facilities, residence hall common spaces (hallways, lounges, laundry, etc.), off-campus houses/apartments unless listed on the lease as a tenant, and College vehicles.

Unvaccinated students are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth in all indoor spaces, with the following exceptions:

  • In their assigned residence hall room, apartment, or off-campus housing unit.
  • While actively eating or drinking.
  • While driving alone in a vehicle.
  • When the student is in the restroom

Vaccinated students are not required to wear face coverings, but they are welcome to do so. 

For more information, go here.

Dickinson College

Masks are not currently required on campus for vaccinated individuals.

Dickinson College will have a full return of students to campus for the 2021-22 academic year, and is among the more than 600 campuses nationwide that will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students, unless a student seeks a religious or medical exemption.

Dickinson’s decision follows a recommendation by the American College Health Association to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students living on college or university campuses for the fall 2021 semester.

Lebanon Valley College

We are strongly encouraging vaccinations at this time and will strongly consider requiring them when they are fully approved by the FDA. Unvaccinated students will need to provide evidence of negative test results within 72 hour before arrival on campus and will be subject to surveillance testing. Given the virulence of the Delta variant, we are requiring indoor masking. Outdoor masking will not be required.

For more information on LVC's COVID-19 safety measures, go here.

York College

Face masks are required to enter all campus buildings. The only indoor space where they are not required is in individual residence hall rooms.

We are not requiring vaccinations at this time. We are strongly encouraging our employees and students to get vaccinated. We created an incentive program for students -- unvaccinated and vaccinated -- to possibly earn "prizes" for participation. More information on that program is available here.

For more information on York College's COVID-19 protocols, go here.

Messiah University

At the current time, Messiah University does not require students, employees or visitors — regardless of vaccination status — to wear masks on campus in most settings, except for certain large indoor group gatherings. However, we are currently reviewing guidance and developing policies for the 2021-2022 academic year. 

You can follow any updates here

Messiah University views vaccination against COVID-19 as our best way to assure community health, and to avoid the kinds of disruptions seen across the country from COVID-19 illness or outbreaks. That said, given the fact that the FDA approval is currently emergency use, at this time, Messiah University is not mandating COVID-19 vaccination for students for the fall 2021 semester.

"While not mandated, our community goal is that the majority of our student and employee populations be vaccinated prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester to assure a safe and undisrupted in-person educational experience," the school said in a statement. "This is particularly key for congregate living settings, such as colleges and universities. We greatly appreciate our students and employees who have already been vaccinated for COVID-19, and we continue to encourage as many as possible to continue to do so."

Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology

Thaddeus Stevens College is planning to open in fall 2021 with expanded on-campus learning. While general education classes will remain online, all labs and shops are planned to be held in-person on campus. In addition, student housing will expand to two students per dorm room. Extracurricular activities and athletics are expected to resume.  

As an additional next step to balance the opening of campus with a need to ensure the health and safety of our campus community, on May 22 we announced our decision to add the COVID-19 vaccine to our list of required vaccines for Thaddeus Stevens College students. This decision was informed by science per the CDC, trends in declining incidence of COVID-19 with increasing vaccine rates, and established laws and the legislative environment at that time. We announced our decision early in the fall 2021 planning process, prior to the end of the spring 2021 semester, to provide as much time as possible for our students to learn about their vaccine options and to provide transparency about our expectations for the fall 2021 semester. 

Since our announcement in May, conditions have changed. This has prompted us to review our Health and Safety guidelines for fall 2021, including the vaccine requirement.  Specifically, the passage of PA Senate Bill 618 by the General Assembly last Thursday brought to light changes in the conditions under which we made our decision to add the COVID-19 vaccine to our list of required vaccines for students. The bill legally bars state and local governments, schools and PA colleges and universities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. While the bill has not yet been signed by the Governor, it shines a spotlight on the support by the PA General Assembly and their constituents across the Commonwealth to legally limit mandates for the COVID-19 vaccine in organizations throughout PA. So, after careful consideration, we are announcing that we are removing the COVID-19 vaccine from our list of required vaccines for the fall 2021 semester. We are unwavering in our belief that a highly vaccinated College community is our best strategy for staying on campus in our shops and labs, and moving toward the full campus experience that we all long for following these difficult 18 months of the pandemic.  Therefore, we strongly encourage all students, faculty and staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

For updated information on the school's COVID-19 protocols, go here.

HACC -- Central Pennsylvania's Community College

Upon review of federal and state guidelines and the collegewide COVID-19 Task Force recommendations, HACC has developed a four-phased approach (pdf) to reopening our campuses. Our summer 2020 semester represented phase one.

For the summer and fall 2021 semesters, HACC will remain in phase three.

Please see detailed information below for summer and fall 2021 semesters. In addition, please note the following:

  • The College is open.
  • The outdoor spaces at all five campuses will be open to the general public beginning June 1, 2021. The public can park on our campuses and walk the campus grounds. Students can enjoy lunch outside while remaining socially distanced.
  • HACC’s buildings will remain closed to the general public.
  • For on-campus classes, class size may be limited, and personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must be followed.
  • Anyone on a HACC campus - even if they are fully vaccinated - is required to wear a mask that completely covers their nose and mouth at all times while on campus. This includes in the classroom and in all common areas (indoor and outdoor). 

HACC does not require students or employees to be vaccinated at this time.

For more information on HACC's COVID-19 protocols, go here.

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