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URI will require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

The university is the first state school in Rhode Island to make the vaccine mandatory for in-person learning this fall

A sign on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, in South Kingstown, R.I.
A sign on the campus of the University of Rhode Island, in South Kingstown, R.I.Steven Senne/Associated Press

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The University of Rhode Island will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students returning for in-person learning in the fall 2021 semester, the university said Tuesday.

In an email to students from the university’s Division of Student Affairs and Health Services, the university said students will have to provide proof they received a COVID-19 vaccine or approved exemption by Aug. 16. Exemptions will be allowed for medical or religious reasons.

URI is the first state school in Rhode Island to require returning students to receive the vaccine. Roger Williams University, Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the New England Institute of Technology, which are all private institutions, previously announced that students must receive the COVID-19 vaccine.


Vaccines will also be required for students who plan on participating in any on-site or in-person activities at URI. For students who have been granted exemptions, the university said it could modify housing assignments as it deems necessary.

URI is not requiring, but is “strongly encouraging,” all employees get vaccinated, according to the email sent Tuesday.

Undergraduate and graduate students who are not vaccinated and do not qualify for a medical or religious exemption will not be able to access campus and will either have to petition to study remotely or take a leave of absence.

According to URI’s Health Services website, students will still have to wear a face covering and will still have to maintain social distancing by at least three feet. This comes after Governor Dan McKee announced that fully vaccinated Rhode Islanders no longer have to wear a mask around others as of May 18, but that some businesses may still require masks.

“While receiving the vaccine is an important public health measure, it does not replace the essentials of mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing, staying home when sick and frequent COVID-19 testing,” said URI’s website.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.