Delta variant challenges colleges with vaccine mandates, COVID test costs, and student lawsuits

Colleges are reopening across the U.S. amid rising cases of COVID-19 with the Delta variant.

Right now, colleges in New York are doing so without a ton of issues, but that could change. Universities and colleges are dealing with the cost of COVID-19 tests, unvaccinated students, vaccine mandates, as well as student lawsuits, and professors walking off the job- as students move back in to dorms.

Some colleges, like the University of Texas, Austin has a vaccination rate of approximately 60%. It would cost that institution around $4 million to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“There are these two different worlds: There’s a world where we do all this mitigation, it’s successful enough that we could actually safely continue school in person and we don’t have to go online,” Dr. Lauren Meyers, a professor of integrative biology and data science said. She spoke with the Wall Street Journal about it all recently. “Or there’s the world where we don’t do enough to mitigate, or there’s not enough vaccination in the community, and we’re forced to go online and that incurs additional cost to UT.”

In addition, colleges across the country are facing lawsuits over refunds for remote learning during the 2020-21 academic year, as well as those over vaccine mandates.

For many institutions, they view the problem as a sustainability issue. How do you maintain economic viability if your costs are skyrocketing and attendance is decreasing due to COVID mandates?

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