Students at Wesleyan College West Virginia will face a $750 non-refundable fee if they show up to campus unvaccinated or without proof of vaccination, the university has announced. The private liberal arts school in Buckhannon is encouraging all students, faculty and staff to get the shot before the school year begins in the fall.
Those who contract the virus during the upcoming fall semester, and are unable to return home, will be charged a $250 fee to quarantine on campus. Infected students will have 48 hours of free "contained housing" before becoming responsible for off-campus arrangements.
"That fee is going to be used to cover the expenses that will come with increased testing and other resources that the college will have to utilize and deploy to keep every student safe," Dean James Moore told CBS affiliate WDTV.
The university said fully vaccinated students "may return to normal on-campus activity and are not required to wear a mask unless they choose to do so." Meanwhile, unvaccinated students will be required to wear a mask indoors and must social distance. They will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and will have limited access to on-campus facilities and venues. The university said unvaccinated students who don't follow these guidelines will face "student judicial action."
"The safety of each and every member of the campus community is the College's highest priority," the university said. "We continue to urge all members of the Wesleyan campus community to follow all safety and public health protocols."
The institution reports that approximately 90% of faculty and staff have been vaccinated and that "a large percentage" of students confirmed they have received the shot.
Wesleyan College said they have not mandated the vaccine, but that they will reconsider doing so should the Food and Drug Administration formally approve COVID-19 vaccines for usage beyond their current emergency status.
West Virginia has seen 1,037 new cases in the last few days, with a daily positivity rate of 8.11%, according to the state's Department of Health. There are currently 4,010 active cases there, which is more than four times higher than last month. Nearly 50% of the state's population have received both doses of an approved vaccine.
"We're putting our healthcare workers and our hospitals in an exceptionally difficult position if we don't pick up the pace of vaccination," Jim Hoyer, director of the Joint Interagency Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccines, said in a statement.
At a Monday briefing, Governor Jim Justice said "things are going to get really tough" as the Delta variant causes COVID to spread across the state. "They are probably going to continue to get tougher in the weeks ahead."