University of Minnesota students add COVID-19 vaccine status to school year checklist

Lucy Brown moves in to the University of Minnesota campus ahead of the fall 2021 semester. (FOX 9)

University of Minnesota students are starting to move-in on campus and this year there’s one more item on their checklist: submitting their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Friday, students received an email with instructions and a form to complete in order to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The deadline is October 8.

Senior Lucy Brown started moving in on Friday to beat the rush of the roughly 5,000 U of M students who will be joining her on campus Monday and Tuesday. With enrollment numbers trending toward the largest freshman class in 50 years, she’s comforted by mask mandates inside buildings and the COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

"It just adds that extra layer of safety that either medically or psychologically makes you feel like you are secure," said Brown.

A student out of compliance for the vaccine mandate would not be automatically removed from housing or classes, but would be blocked from registering for the spring semester. In an effort to get more students to comply to the mandate, the university is offering opportunities to get vaccinated on campus.

Pro-vaccine parents told FOX 9 they aren't as concerned about the pandemic this year.

"I’m less worried - worried about other stuff - I don’t have to worry about them getting sick," said Jaime Olivera, a parent. "I just have to worry about, ‘Oh are they going to actually do their laundry?’"

In large part, dorms have been returned to pre-pandemic set-ups. For example, full capacity tables and chairs are back in cafeterias.

"Students will be able to eat in the dining hall without a mask on and will also still have a to-go option," said Interim Director of Housing and Residential Life Susan Stubblefield.

Stubblefield says space is set aside for 50 students to isolate should they test positive. Fully vaccinated close contacts would be encouraged to test, not quarantine.

For the physical move-in, the U of M is asking students to limit helpers to 1-3 people. The Browns were happy to comply for the sake of getting back to a more normal college experience.

"Part of the reason I’m here at college, part of the reason I love college is the environment of being able to go and study different places," said Brown. "Having the opportunity to be safely on campus and participle in that makes me feel really good."