A West Virginia college will charge unvaccinated students a "Covid fee" when they return to campus, while administrators at an Alabama school said students who have not been vaccinated will have to foot the bill for weekly testing.
West Virginia Wesleyan College announced the nonrefundable $750 fee in a Covid-19 update on its website. The private liberal arts college, with roughly 1,400 undergraduate and graduate students, does not have a vaccine mandate, but encourages students and staff to get the shots prior to the start of the fall semester.
The fee will also apply to students who fail to submit proof they have either been fully vaccinated or received the first dose.
About 90 percent of the school's faculty and staff have been fully vaccinated and a "large percentage of students" have received the shot, the college said.
Unvaccinated students will have to wear a mask and social distance while on campus. They will also be required to undergo weekly testing. School officials said the fee will help cover the costs of testing.
The college also said that anyone who contracts coronavirus while on campus will be provided a free 48-hour window of "contained housing." After that time, infected students will be responsible for quarantining off-campus. If they cannot do so, they will be charged a $250 fee to stay on campus for the remainder of their quarantine period.
James Moore, the school's dean, told station WDTV that the fees will "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."
In Alabama, unvaccinated students at Birmingham–Southern College will be charged a $500 fee for the fall term to offset the cost of weekly testing and quarantining.
The school said on its website that all of its roughly 1,300 students will initially be charged but those who have been vaccinated against the virus will receive an immediate refund. According to officials at the private liberal arts college, the fee is "due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions."
"We're not trying to charge everyone $500, we're trying to keep everybody safe. If it encourages people to be vaccinated then that's good, I think, for our campus and the safety of our campus," the college president, Daniel Coleman, told NBC affiliate WVTM of Birmingham. "It is not meant to be a stick or penalty, per se."
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