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Arkansas Baptist College requiring students, employees to submit proof of covid vaccination or exemption request

by Jaime Adame | December 30, 2021 at 3:07 a.m.
Arkansas Baptist College is shown in this file photo.

Students and employees at Arkansas Baptist College must get vaccinated against covid-19 for the coming spring semester or request exemptions.

The historically Black college's spring classes begin Wednesday, several days earlier than some other colleges in the state.

Students living at the Little Rock campus have been told to have at least their first dose of the covid-19 vaccine by Sunday.

Proof of completing the two-dose series or the one-dose version of the vaccine must be submitted by students -- whether living on or off campus -- and employees by Feb. 10.

The policy, announced on the university's Facebook page on Dec. 9, also applies to students attending the college's location at New Life Church in Conway.

Those who receive exemptions because of medical or for religious reasons will be required to test weekly for covid-19 and pay for the testing.

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The college enrolled about 414 students for the fall semester, according to state data.

No one was available Wednesday from the college to speak about the vaccination requirement.

In the fall semester, the college required face coverings for all people on campus and three feet of physical distancing in classrooms, Jeff Sellers, the college's vice president of institutional advancement, said in September.

Sellers said then that the college had formed a committee to meet every other week to discuss covid-19.

In September, Sellers said the college had taken precautions without putting in place a vaccination mandate, which he called a "political hot button."

A state law prohibits state entities, including state universities, from putting in place a vaccination mandate.

Philander Smith College, another private historically Black college, in the fall required students and employees to be vaccinated against covid-19 or get tested weekly.

Sellers said in September that Arkansas Baptist College was encouraging vaccination and hoped to see an increase in its rate of vaccinations.

The state Division of Higher Education on Nov. 17 provided many colleges with updated data on their student and employee vaccination rates. The fully vaccinated rate for students at Arkansas Baptist College was 28%. For employees, the rate was 56%.

The state calculations factor in on vaccine doses given in Arkansas, so the rates are lower than if all doses taken outside the state were counted.

A covid-19 vaccination clinic on the Arkansas Baptist College campus is scheduled for Jan. 11, according to the school's website.

Print Headline: Shots rule instituted by college


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