Most of the people on the Maryville College campus next month will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and those who aren’t will be subject to weekly random testing.

Students, faculty and staff have until Aug. 1 to show the private college they are vaccinated or apply for an exemption based on medical, religious or “personal preference” grounds. Students who miss the deadline will have their fall class schedule canceled and won’t be allowed to move on campus, college officials said.

By Tuesday, July 27, 72% of students had reported, and 58% of those were fully or partially vaccinated. Of the 88% of employees who had reported, 80% were fully or partially vaccinated, according to Karen Eldridge, the college’s executive director for marketing and communications.

Maryville College officials have said they expect to remove the personal preference exemption category when the COVID-19 vaccines are no longer under emergency use authorization.

$250 testing charge

A portion of unvaccinated students, faculty and staff will be tested each week for COVID-19.

The students who request a personal preference exemption will be charged a COVID-19 testing fee of $250 a semester. The college won’t charge those who qualify for religious and medical exemptions by providing requested documentation.

Unvaccinated faculty and staff will not be part of the on-campus testing, but the college will allow them to have the tests during regular work hours, Eldridge said. They may use free self-test kits and on-site testing at the Blount County Health Department. If employees choose tests from local pharmacies or clinics, they will pay the costs.

“Individual autonomy is an important value, and one which the College respects, but in some cases its exercise does create some costs, which it is not unreasonable to ask the person exercising that autonomy to help defray,” the college website states in answers to frequently asked questions. If the fee is a hardship, students may apply for aid.

The first students will move on to campus Aug. 1, and testing will start the week of Aug. 2, Eldridge said.

Dual enrollment tests

About 90 high school students who take dual enrollment classes on the Maryville College campus also must have proof of the COVID-19 vaccine or apply for an exemption.

The unvaccinated high school students also will be subject to testing requirements but will have to get the tests and report the results back to the college within 72 hours of when they are notified that they must test.

The college has notified students that it won’t provide remote or hybrid instruction this semester if they test positive for COVID-19 or must quarantine because of exposure.

Vaccinated students will not have to quarantine if they have no symptoms after being in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Currently Maryville College is not requiring vaccinated people to wear masks indoors, but that could soon change.

Its COVID-19 Workgroup is expected this week to review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in public to prevent the spread of the delta variant in communities with substantial or high transmission.

Blount County has moved from substantial to high community transmission, according to CDC data. Blount had a 14-day average of 24.7 new cases reported per day and 41 new cases of COVID-19 on July 27, Tennessee Department of Health data shows.

Education Reporter

Amy Beth earned her degree from West Virginia. She joined The Daily Times in 2016 on the education beat covering Alcoa, Maryville and Blount County school systems.

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