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BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– Students, faculty and staff returning to Indiana University for the fall 2021 semester will need to be vaccinated for COVID-19, school officials announced Friday.

The university says this requirement will allow for most restrictions on masking and physical distancing to be lifted.

“Knowing that the vast majority of the IU community is vaccinated is the only way the university can confidently return to in-person classes, more in-person events and a more typical university experience,” IU said in a release.

In order to meet the requirement, students, faculty and staff will need to have their first dose by July 1. They need to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15 or when they return to campus, whichever comes first. IU notes that being “fully vaccinated” includes a two-week period following the final dose.

“The COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized by the FDA are extremely safe and effective,” said Dr. Lana Dbeibo, director of vaccine initiatives for IU’s Medical Response Team and assistant professor of infectious diseases in the IU School of Medicine. “There are very, very few medical reasons a person would not be able to receive this vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is available throughout the U.S., and now those 12 years old and above are eligible. I recommend, unless you have a medical contraindication, to schedule and get the vaccine as soon as you can — not only for yourself, but for those you love as well.”

Students, faculty and staff will need to comply with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement in order to interact with the IU community in any way. This includes being on campus, taking or teaching courses, being employed and/or participating in activities.

An exemption request process will be available by June 15, but will be strictly limited to a narrow set of criteria, including medical exemptions, and documented and significant religious exemptions.

“Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, one of our main goals has been to make it safer to be a part of the IU community than not,” said Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University. “We continue to plan for an in-person fall 2021 semester and expect that we’ll return to mostly normal operations. Requiring the COVID-19 vaccine among our students, faculty and staff continues to extend the university’s comprehensive and thoughtful approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses and brings us one step closer to making a ‘return to normal’ a reality.”

Those who have already submitted their vaccine status to the university will not need to resubmit after this requirement is in effect. Students, faculty and staff who need to provide their vaccination information will complete a secure form with the dates of their vaccine doses along with a photo or scan of their vaccine documentation, such as a CDC card.

IU says there will be strong consequences for those who do not meet the requirement and have no exemption.

Students will see their class registration canceled, CrimsonCard access terminated and access to IU systems such as Canvas and email terminated, and they will not be allowed to participate in any on-campus activity. Faculty and staff who choose not to meet the requirement will no longer be able to be employed by Indiana University. Working remotely and not meeting the COVID-19 vaccine requirement is not an option.