Following conversations with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the University System of Georgia (USG) has asked all campuses to plan for resuming normal operations for the Fall 2021 semester.
This decision comes as wider availability of vaccines over the next few months is anticipated to control the spread of COVID-19. USG will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 across the state and consult with DPH in the coming months as to the appropriate practices to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Despite calls by faculty, USG has yet to mandate that returning students be vaccinated against COVID-19, which many other campuses around the country have done, including Agnes Scott, Emory, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.
The California State University, the University of California, the State University of New York and the City University of New York will require vaccinations, as will Duke, Northeastern and Syracuse.
Writing earlier this week on the AJC Get Schooled blog, Joshua S. Weitz, a professor of biological sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said, “Given the safety, efficacy, and widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, requiring vaccinations for students, staff, and faculty would help protect those who live, learn, and work on college campuses and in surrounding communities.”
It may be USG is waiting to insist on COVID vaccines until one receives full approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Weitz on Wednesday. Campuses that have already announced mandates have conditioned them on one or more of the vaccines being upgraded from FDA “emergency use authorization, which was granted during the crisis, to full approval.
The USG decision on SAT/ACT scores could influence other state systems that have not yet decided whether to extend test waivers granted last year because of widespread cancellations of test dates due to COVID-19.
At this point, 1,410 accredited, bachelor-degree granting colleges and universities, including Emory, Mercer and Duke, have announced they will be ACT/SAT optional (or test-blind) for fall 2022 admission.
In August, USG followed most of its peer systems and waived test score requirements for spring, summer and fall 2021 admission to its 26 campuses. However, the waiver was only for one year.
“The politically appointed University System of Georgia Board of Regents, most of whom are not educators, are bucking a strong national trend by refusing to extend ACT/SAT optional policies for at least another year,” said Robert Schaeffer, executive director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing or FairTest. “Because they recognize the difficulty many students still face in taking standardized tests, as well as the many biases and flaws of these exams, most colleges and universities including the University of Alabama have decided to not require ACT/SAT scores for fall 2022 applicants. Test-optional admissions are the new normal because admissions experts have learned that test scores do not measure merit.”