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Colleges Requiring Students to be Fully Vaccinated

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation are requiring students to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning to campuses in the fall, but the mandates may be difficult to enforce fully.

Some schools such as Princeton University are requiring students to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 1, but it’s still unclear how others will manage vaccination and mask mandates — or what alternatives to on-campus learning may be offered to students who aren’t inoculated against Covid-19.

A number of colleges contacted by NBC News declined to comment, pointing to their websites for requirements.

“There is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, and colleges are places that have a high risk for transmission since people congregate in classrooms and school buildings such as dorms,” said Kristin Bratton Nelson, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

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Most universities won’t require students to submit a copy of an official vaccination card as proof, which could make the policies difficult to enforce, said public health expert Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the issue, 578 college campuses currently require students to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning for the fall semester. The American College Health Association advises all colleges and universities to implement vaccination mandates for students and staff, but the logistics are proving to be complicated.

For example, a lawsuit brought by eight Indiana University students is awaiting a ruling on whether the school’s vaccination mandate is legal under state laws that prohibit vaccine passports. In response to an opinion published by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita in May, the university dropped its proof of vaccination requirement and only requires nonexempt students to indicate whether or not they have been vaccinated. And Boston College’s refusal to grant a religious exemption for students at the Catholic school has angered some students and parents who are requesting a change in policy.

‘Quite a few’ exemption requests

Some students opposed to mandates see vaccination as a personal choice — and exemptions as a way to bypass mandates.

“I feel that I shouldn’t be forced to get the shot by a school that I’m paying to go to,” said a 19-year-old rising sophomore at Hofstra University on Long Island, who requested that she not be identified.

She told NBC News that she does not agree with the university requiring students to get the Covid-19 vaccination before returning to campus, and even considered transferring to a school that does not require the vaccination.

Although she does not have a medical condition that would make it dangerous for her to get vaccinated, she found a doctor who would sponsor a medical exemption and plans to submit a request before returning to campus in August.

“I’m not at all against getting vaccinated, but I feel like the vaccine is kind of new and I would rather wait to get it until it’s approved by the FDA, just to have peace of mind,” she said.

Related: New coronavirus strains are a risk, but experts say human behavior and social interactions that lead to superspreader events remain the most serious threat.

This is a challenge all schools with mandates will face: How will exemption requests be vetted, and what will the penalties be for falsifying information? The differences between just a handful of schools illustrate how the mandates vary.

Some schools, including Hofstra, have outlined specific health conditions to be medically exempt from the vaccination. Others are vague. University of Connecticut students don’t need to have a specific condition to apply for a medical exemption, but must have a health care professional attest that the Covid-19 vaccines would endanger their life or health.

Students at Indiana University are required to be vaccinated by Aug. 1, but can apply for exemptions if they are allergic to any component of the Covid-19 vaccines. They can apply for vaccination deferral if they are pregnant, breastfeeding, immunocompromised or have received monoclonal antibodies specific to Covid-19 in the past 90 days.

Already, Indiana University has received “quite a few” exemption requests, Chuck Carney, a spokesperson for the school, said in an email.

Medical exemptions and deferrals require a health provider’s signature. Religious exemptions, which most schools have voluntarily included, are almost always based on the honor system.

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“The religious exemption requires an online attestation that they request an exemption based on religious reasons, with the potential of disciplinary action for falsely making that claim,” Carney said.

In-person students at Indiana University who do not get the vaccination and who are not exempt will be unregistered from classes, have their access to university systems such as email terminated, and will not be allowed to participate in any on-campus activity, the school’s website states. But the penalties for fabricating a request are vague.

Hofstra will offer online classes to students who are unvaccinated without an exemption, and students who falsify records are “subject to the policies in the University’s Code of Community Standards,” Jean C. Peden-Christodoulou, associate vice president of Hofstra, said in an email. However, specific repercussions are unclear.

University of Connecticut campuses require in-person students to be fully vaccinated, but it’s unclear whether or not remote learning will be an option, only that students will face “loss of privileges and/or sanctions.”

Legal patchwork

Several states, including Florida, Indiana and Texas, have legislation prohibiting governments from passing laws that require “vaccine passports.” Some have interpreted this as applying to public universities as well, but many legal questions remain regarding the difference between private and public colleges.

Additional legal uncertainty lies in the fact that all Covid-19 vaccines currently hold emergency use authorization status, and it’s unclear when the shots will be fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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“Universities have a duty to provide a safe campus and vaccination might be a part of that,” said Dorit Reiss, a professor of law at the University of California in San Francisco, who specializes in legal issues related to vaccines. “We need some guidance on this at the federal level.”

Despite the pushback, some experts say, mandates for college students will drive a much needed uptick in vaccination rates among younger adults.

“Mandates will help in younger age groups, where the perception is often that they don’t have to worry about getting very sick from Covid-19,” said Murray of the University of Washington, who expects vaccination rates among young adults to climb in the next month as a result of the mandates.

Majority in favor of mandates

In May, a Gallup Poll of 3,500 Americans found that roughly 60 percent were in favor of colleges requiring students to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Evan Levine of Camden County, New Jersey, whose son is a rising junior at Princeton, said he’s grateful for the school’s vaccination mandate and hopes the requirements will become the status quo as more schools implement the policy.

“Especially with the variants and rising infection rates in unvaccinated people, if the mandate to be vaccinated to be on campus was not there, I feel there would absolutely be more lost time,” he said, referring to remote learning over the past year.

Both Levine and his son, who is fully vaccinated, were notified of Princeton’s mandate via email in May.

“I feel like Princeton is throwing these kids a life raft with these mandates. If you want to experience college the way it’s intended to be, getting a shot should be a no-brainer,” Levine said.

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Pop mogul Simon Cowell was a racing flop with ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec – that didn’t win a penny

SIMON COWELL conquered the music world – but his foray into racing ended in disaster with an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec.

The music mogul, 62, has done it all with bands like One Direction, Little Mix and solo acts Olly Murs and James Arthur, to name but a few.

Cowell owned an 'awful' £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec - but the runner didn't win a single penny in six races

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Cowell owned an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec – but the runner didn’t win a single penny in six racesCredit: PA:Press Association
Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

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Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

His Syco label – plus shows such as Britain’s Got Talent – have dominated the entertainment industry and brought him an estimated net worth of £385m.

A lover of Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, he looked perfectly poised to strike a knockout blow in the world of thoroughbreds.

But it turns out his runner was far from No1 in the charts – and never even finished better than fifth during a doomed six-race career.

Things looked promising at the start.

Named It’s A Yes From Me, the runner was trained with the respected James Fanshawe and sent off at 8-1 for his first race in June 2014.

But coming last of five by 13-and-a-half lengths was unfortunately about as good as it got for the gelding.

A month’s rest followed before he was sent off at 40-1 in a six-furlong sprint at Doncaster.

But there he could only manage fifth again, and it was same at Redcar the next month.

‘Dreadfully slow’

By October that year – with further finishes of sixth and tenth – It’s A Yes From Me came second-last in a one-mile race at Kempton.

One analysis of the race warned punters the horse was ‘one to tread carefully’ with.

Well, Cowell and Ant and Dec took that advice to heart as they never raced him again.

The horse was penniless from six races, never finishing high enough to recoup some of that £35,000 investment.

It’s doubtful Cowell, with hundreds of millions in the bank, lost any sleep over that.

But Ant and Dec revealed just how bad things has got with the horse during an interview last year.

Dec said of It’s A Yes From Me: “It was awful, it was a dreadfully slow horse.

“It wasn’t a racehorse it was just a horse, because it didn’t race.

“Every time we got to the BGT studio Simon would say, ‘I keep paying stable fees on this horse, but I’ve never seen it run’.”

Cowell originally wanted to name the nag after himself, but they settled on It’s A Yes From Me when they bought it in 2013.

‘It was awful’

Dec revealed its eventual fate: “I think it got rehomed.”

Of course it’s not all been bad for Cowell at the races.

He was one of the exclusive few at the Epsom Derby in June, having a great time with partner Lauren Silverman and Piers Morgan.

And two weeks later he was at Royal Ascot – where he first discovered his love of racing.

Cowell told SunSport’s Matt Chapman during a chat at Epsom: “I’ve got my son Eric with me today.

“My mum and dad years ago used to take me to Ascot and I was probably about his age – seven or eight.

Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this year

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Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this yearCredit: Getty
It's A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races

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It’s A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races
The music supremo tweeted about his horse's bad start... which never got much better

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The music supremo tweeted about his horse’s bad start… which never got much better

Most read in Horse Racing

“So the fact I can now bring him to the races as well is brilliant. It brings back a lot of good memories.

“Making TV shows is my passion. But racing is actually my second passion.”

He hasn’t made that passion the money-maker his music label is, but don’t rule out Cowell staging his own comeback at the track in the near future.

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Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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