Seventy-nine students at Maryland’s largest college, the University of Maryland, College Park, had their fall course registrations canceled due to failure to comply with the school’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements, according to a university spokesperson.
The number accounts for less than 0.2% of the college’s student body, which was over 40,000 students in fall 2020.
The university, which, like the rest of the University System of Maryland, is requiring all students, faculty and staff on campus this semester to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, required students to submit either proof of vaccination or of a valid medical or religious exemption by Aug. 16. Those who did not had their course registrations canceled.
Students who were removed from their courses can “re-register for the fall 2021 semester” if they confirm their vaccination status or request an exemption, according to the university’s website, though it does not specify the deadline by which students would have to do so. The university did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Though the vaccine mandate for the state’s university system came from USM Chancellor Jay Perman last April, details about how to implement the plan — including when students must be vaccinated and what the penalty was for noncompliance — were decided institution-by-institution, said Mike Lurie, a USM spokesperson.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a small, public university not affiliated with the USM that is in St. Mary’s County, has also penalized students for failing to comply with vaccination rules. The school, which required students to submit documentation of their vaccination or an exemption no less than two weeks before arriving on campus, has disenrolled 63 students due to noncompliance.
However, since then, the majority of those students have complied with the mandate, either by getting the vaccine or submitted an exemption request, according to university spokesperson Michael Bruckler. Only 16 students remained disenrolled due to the vaccine policy, a number that represents just over 1.0% of the school’s student body, which comprised 1,508 students in fall 2020.
Those students have until the college’s add/drop day, the last day students can add or drop a course without being penalized, to comply with the mandate and re-enroll.
According to Bruckler, students were disenrolled before the start of the semester and so were never charged tuition and other fees for the fall.
UMCP did not immediately respond to questions asking whether students who were disenrolled or removed from their classes would receive any reimbursement for their tuition, campus housing or other previously paid fees.
Other schools’ deadlines for students to get vaccinated have already passed, but few have begun enforcing penalties on non-compliant students.
Jill Rosen, a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins University, the state’s largest private college, with nearly 29,000 students enrolled last fall, said that no students have yet been disenrolled for failing to meet the school’s Aug. 1 deadline for vaccination documentation. The university’s students, staff and faculty currently have a compliance rate over 95%, Rosen said, while the remainder are working to become compliant.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, also has high compliance rates, with 94% of students, staff and faculty having submitted the necessary documentation. UMBC is waiting to take action against those who have not.
Those who haven’t been vaccinated or provided proof of an exemption, university spokesperson Dinah Winnick said in an email, are “currently restricted from university property and cannot access campus for any reason including attending classes, visiting the residence halls, or using in-person services such as the library, computer labs, and the bookstore.”
Those who do not report their complete or partial vaccinations by Tuesday, Sept. 7, will have their on-campus classes canceled. Some students with special circumstances, such as international students who didn’t have access to the vaccine in their home countries, will have more time to comply.
One school has managed to avoid having to implement noncompliance penalties at all; at the University of Baltimore School of Law, which is a part of the USM, 100% of the students, staff and faculty are compliant with the school’s vaccine mandate (only about 2.0% of that number complied by means of an exemption).
“I am very proud of our UB law school community,” School of Law Dean Ronald Weich said in a statement. “We stepped up on vaccines, and we’re keeping our masks on. It helps to work in a state where basic public health protections are not controversial.”
The majority of UB’s courses outside of the law school remain online-only this semester, making it one of the few colleges to continue prioritizing online schooling into the fall. The university plans to release its overall vaccination numbers in the coming days.
Statewide, several universities’ deadlines for complying with their vaccine policies have yet to pass, including Towson University, which is giving students and employees until Sept. 10, and Salisbury, which is giving students until Sept. 3.
Other universities whose deadlines have already passed, including Loyola University Maryland, Goucher College and Morgan State University, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.