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‘The No. 1 intervention is vaccination’ | UH, others, address fall semester amid new COVID concerns

Most colleges will begin with full capacity while encouraging continued protocols.

HOUSTON — Fall classes begin in one month at the University of Houston.

It’ll be at full capacity, like many campuses, despite a rise in COVID cases.

“The No. 1 intervention is vaccination,” said Dr. Stephen Spann, founding Dean of UH’s College of Medicine and V.P. for Medical Affairs.

He signed a letter Friday that was sent to students, faculty and staff today reminding them of protocols and the effectiveness of vaccinations.

“We’re encouraging our students, our faculty and staff to get vaccines if they haven’t already,” said Spann. “This is the way, the best way, to prevent COVID.”

Steven Berenzweig’s vaccinated son will soon begin his freshman year at Sam Houston State University with roommates whose status may be unknown to him.

“The virus is still moving around,” said Berenzweig.

Residential students are required to sign a COVID agreement form at move-in according to the university’s residence life department.

However, colleges are not allowed to ask detailed vaccination information.

“I think college campuses are going to turn into breeding grounds for the virus,” said Berenzweig.

Sam Houston State is also highly recommending vaccinations and encourages face coverings among those who haven’t gotten shots.

But, like other public colleges and even K-12 public schools, there’s limited control beyond what state guidelines allow.

“I’m hoping we’ll be okay,” said Dr. Spann.

We checked with several other area colleges or universities.

All have recently updated COVID guidance or plan to do so before the fall semester.

Here’s SHSU’s full statement:

As per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the university is unable to ask specific questions regarding vaccination status about students.

However, since the vaccines have a high efficacy rate, the risk of a vaccinated person contracting the virus is much lower. Due to the wide-spread availability of vaccines, the university has had numerous campaigns in place to educate students about the vaccine and continues to offer the vaccine for free to those in our campus community who choose to get it.

The university encourages members of the campus community to visit its COVID website for the most up-to-date information as it pertains to SHSU. This site includes specific information for students, parents, faculty and staff.

For information pertaining directly to students’ return to campus, you can visit https://www.shsu.edu/katsafe/covid/students_2021 and this site also includes information regarding vaccinations, testing, etc.

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