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AG Miyares’ opinion affects local universities

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 5:05 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Attorney General Jason Miyares posted a legal opinion Friday morning that would stop state universities from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for a student to be enrolled or attend in-person classes in Virginia.

The opinion only pertains to state universities and not private institutions. This means that locally, Mary Baldwin University and Bridgewater College do not have to abide by these guidelines.

Both Bridgewater and MBU say that they will stick with their vaccination and mask requirements because they believe them to be highly effective.

“You’d need a crystal ball to know what comes next,” Abbie Parkhurst, Bridgewater College spokesperson said. “So, we’re doing what we believe is right for the institution at the time.”

That leaves the two universities in Harrisonburg that will fall under Miyares’ order. However, Eastern Mennonite University already does not require COVID vaccines for students or staff on their campus, so they won’t see much of a change under this opinion.

James Madison University, on the other hand, will have to make adjustments to its COVID-19 mitigation strategies. In a statement sent out Friday by JMU spokesperson Mary-Hope Vass, the university will have to adjust its protocols to ensure they are abiding by the law.

“JMU is aware of the recent opinion issued by Attorney General Miyares regarding student vaccine requirements. We plan to review our COVID-19 policies to ensure they comply with the law. To date, approximately 92 percent of our students and 91 percent of employees have been fully or partially vaccinated and we will continue to encourage vaccinations as an important measure to protect personal and public health.”

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