Hello, Grizzlies. I hope the summer is off to a great start. I want to talk with you today about our plans for the fall semester, and especially about the help we need from you. We all share two common goals for the upcoming academic year—to keep everyone healthy and to get campus life back to normal. In order to accomplish those goals, we must achieve an acceptable level of COVID immunity throughout the campus. If we are going to dispense with masks and social distancing in most situations, the vast majority of students, faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated. In a residential setting like ours, where small classes and close, personal interactions define the student experience, we must create an environment free of the COVID threat.
My plea today is for students to take advantage of the COVID vaccines that are readily available and free of charge. Hundreds of millions of doses have been administered throughout the world safely and effectively. While we have not made a decision to require the vaccine, only fully vaccinated students will have access to the full student experience, free from mitigation efforts in most situations.
The decision NOT to receive the vaccine, like all such personal decisions, comes with consequences. Some student experiences like travel programs will not be accessible without full vaccination. We will not be offering on-campus quarantine and isolation provisions for students who contract COVID, nor will we have virtual class offerings to make up missed coursework. Costs for COVID tests for unvaccinated students, as well as any expenses associated with a positive COVID diagnosis, will be borne exclusively by the student.
It is not logistically feasible nor financially feasible for Franklin College to operate as if a COVID remedy does not exist. It is also not safe to allow those who choose not to be vaccinated to present a risk to the rest of the community. The decision whether to become fully vaccinated is a personal one, but each decision ultimately impacts our collective ability to return to business as usual.
Please be on the lookout for an email from Dean Jones next week. Students will be required to indicate their vaccination status so we can plan for continued surveillance testing and other mitigation protocols for unvaccinated students.
The four years you spend at Franklin will go by quickly, and many of you have already sacrificed to the pandemic some of the unique opportunities that make small college life so special. I hope you will make the decision today to become vaccinated and help us fully recapture the essence of the Franklin College experience. Thank you.
Kerry N. Prather
President of Franklin College