Indianapolis – Students who don’t like Indiana University’s requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine can go elsewhere for their education.
That was the message delivered by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in a decision issued Monday that would allow a public university requirement that all students and staff receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the fall semester.
The court said colleges and universities can decide what is necessary to keep students safe, alleging that it is a violation of their constitutional rights, while rejecting an injunction request made by a group of eight students .
“Those who do not wish to be vaccinated may go elsewhere,” wrote Judge Frank Easterbrook in the decision. He said that if the students fear that people around them are spreading the disease then there will be trouble in the running of the university.
The students’ attorney, James Bop Jr., said he would file an appeal in the US Supreme Court.
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According to IU’s policy announced this spring, all students, faculty and staff in the fall semester are required to be fully vaccinated by either August 15 or upon return to campus after August 1, whichever is earlier.
There are some medical and religious exemptions to mandate, but uneducated students will have to continue to follow some of the coronavirus mitigation strategies the university is easing for other fully vaccinated students.
IU spokesman Chuck Carney said in a statement Monday, “Once again, the court has reaffirmed our legitimate public health interest in ensuring the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and we welcome our community again.” Excited to do.” .
In court last month, Bop argued that requiring the vaccine infringes on students’ rights to physical integrity, medical treatment and informed choices about religious freedom, essentially giving them the choice between vaccinating at IU and continuing their education. forces to do. A federal judge sided with IU in the case, prompting the students to appeal to the 7th Circuit.
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While many of the students involved in the suit have applied for, and been granted, exemptions based on their religious beliefs, the complaint states that they also object to additional requirements placed on students seeking exemptions, such as public places. Required wearing of masks and twice-weekly COVID-19 mitigation tests.
IU’s need for vaccines came from recommendations made by the university’s “restart committee,” which was charged by then-IU president Michael McRobby of reverting campuses to pre-pandemic operations. But the mandate has been mired in controversy since it was announced earlier this year. State officials have called on the university to rescind the mandate; Others have asked government Eric Holcomb to block it.
Other private higher education institutions across the state have adopted similar policies, including Butler University and the University of Notre Dame.
Follow Erica Heron on Twitter: @Erika Heron.