Lakeland Colleges Encouraging But Not Requiring Covid Vaccines

Florida Southern College, Polk State College and Southeastern University are not requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but the institutions are encouraging students to receive a vaccine. Florida Polytechnic University has not yet made a decision. 

Both Florida Southern College and Polk State College have offered on-campus vaccinations. 

“Right now, FSC continues to watch the body of information from the government, health experts, and other colleges on Covid protocols and the vaccine,” said Kelly Semrau, vice president of marketing and relations for Florida Southern.

Polk State is still requiring face coverings and limiting the capacity of its face-to-face classes as part of its phased Return to Campus Plan. So far, Polk State says, it has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19. 

“The health and safety of the college and greater communities remain top priorities for Polk State, as well as the facilitation of exceptional education in the online, face-to-face, and online formats,” said Madison Fantozzi, director of communications at Polk State.

Southeastern University is planning to return to in-person full capacity learning by the fall semester.

Last March, the Florida Board of Governors, which oversees the state’s public universities, including Florida Polytechnic, mandated that courses be delivered remotely. 

“We have not received directives from the BOG on vaccination requirements, at least not yet,” wrote Lydia Guzman, Florida Poly’s director of communications, to the Tampa Bay Businesses Journal. “The BOG may provide guidelines in some cases, but usually each institution has the flexibility to implement their own protocols.”

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis banned businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations by executive order and signed legislation making the ban permanent. Nova Southeastern University, a private nonprofit institution in South Florida that required vaccines before the governor’s order, is currently considering not requiring vaccines. 

“Our priority has always been to save lives, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to deliver the best educational experience, and to protect our students and employees to the best of our ability,” said George Hanbury, president and CEO of Nova Southeastern University. 

Beyond Florida, colleges are divided. Some universities such as Brown, Cornell, Northeastern, and Rutgers Universities will require vaccines for the fall semester. Others, such as Harvard, are encouraging, but not requiring vaccines. 

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