Augusta University school leaders not requiring vaccines for faculty and staff

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AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – Augusta University President Dr. Brooks Keel is laying out guidelines for faculty and staff as students return to campus.

It’s the first in-person town hall meeting that the University has held had since the pandemic started. Dr. Keel wants students and staff to know that while they don’t have to be vaccinated, they do need to be cautious. 

“We’re not out of the woods yet, and we’re not going to be out of the woods for a while,” said Dr. Brooks Keel

Classes are back in session at Augusta University and school leaders are looking to offer the full college experience.

“And that’s why we’re so excited about getting back in the classrooms. Giving students the college experience, because some of these students have been in college for a year, but they never really had a college experience,” said Dr. Keel.

Thursday, Dr. Keel announced that the University would be back at full capacity in classrooms and dorms. He also says he won’t be requiring vaccines for faculty or students.

“This is a decision that the University System of Georgia has made in conjunction with the state department of health, but it’s also about individual rights and we certainly want to respect that. It is a person’s own body that we’re talking about here,” he said.

But with covid cases continuing to rise, and concerns of the delta variant in Augusta, Dr. Keel is still encouraging everyone to get their covid shots.

“The vaccine is safe, it is incredibly effective, it is keeping people out of the hospital now, and the people that we’re seeing in the hospital that are very sick are unvaccinated by in large and we just want to really encourage people everybody, that’s the way we’re going to beat this disease,” he said.

He says while he doesn’t expect to make any major changes to the protocols in place that could change as they get deeper into the semester.

“And it could change based off what the state of Georgia does and the University does so I think it’s just important for people to keep that in mind and stay abreast, just stay attuned to what’s going on,” said Keel.

Students will be mixed in with others, regardless of their vaccination status. 

“I wanted to come to the town hall to get some more info about where I’m going to be for the next few years,” said Jacob Wright, a sophomore at Augusta University.

Wright is a first-year student at Augusta University. He says he had some concerns about Covid on campus.

“Well, I have heard that it’s kind of coming back, so I just wanted to hear what were the policies surrounding it,” said Wright.

Dr. Keel says there are some new things on the horizon for students, including opening the mathematics and science building up again and a new research infrastructure plan.

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