HIGH POINT — Students at High Point University won’t be required to have a COVID-19 vaccination to return to campus for the academic year that starts in about a month.

COVID-19 vaccinations aren’t required but can be scheduled through HPU Student Health Services, the university said in a statement to The High Point Enterprise. During the second semester of the previous academic year, when vaccines became widely accessible, HPU encouraged students to get vaccinations and set up events on campus to promote it.

HPU follows the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services immunization guidelines for higher education, which do not require a COVID-19 vaccination, the university said in its statement. University officials will monitor any change in guidelines from health authorities.

Last school year, HPU required that anyone on campus wear a mask. That requirement will be relaxed for the upcoming academic year.

“High Point University will return to standard operations in the fall,” the statement to The Enterprise said. “Those who prefer to wear face masks are welcome to do so. HPU will continue to provide care, including quarantine spaces if a student is diagnosed as COVID-19 positive or identified as a close contact.”

Classes for the new academic year start Aug. 23.

So far 14 North Carolina colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for the new school year, including Elon University, Wake Forest University, Bennett College in Greensboro and Salem College, according to University Business.

The issue has been at the forefront in national higher education circles because legal questions have been raised over whether colleges could require vaccinations without full approval of the vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reports. More than 580 campuses across the nation have issued vaccination mandates, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education tracker.

Last week, the University of California became the largest public university system to announce it would require COVID-19 vaccinations this fall for all students, faculty and others in order to access campus, with narrow exemptions for medical, religious or disability and deferrals due to pregnancy. Proof of vaccination or approved exemptions must be submitted no later than two weeks before the start of fall term.

In Indiana, a federal judge rejected a request from eight students who sought to block Indiana University’s vaccination requirement while they pursued a lawsuit alleging that the requirement violated their constitutional rights and the state’s new law banning vaccine passports, the Associated Press reports. The judge wrote in his ruling dated Sunday that evidence so far shows that the university has pursued a reasonable policy in the “legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

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