COVID-19 Across Utah Universities, Varying Policies and Procedures


Abu Sufian Mohammad Asib

Students at the University of Utah are following the COVID-19 guidelines by wearing masks while working on campus. (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Brooke Williams, News Writer


In order to resume college life pre-COVID-19, students are adjusting to their universities’ unique response to the pandemic, many including vaccine requirements, testing orders, contact tracing and mask use.

Since the FDA approved the first COVID-19 vaccine in August 2021, the University of Utah added this to their list of required vaccines. In order to fulfill this new requirement, the U offers free vaccines via appointment and placed a registration hold for students who have not proven vaccination or eligibility for exemption. Over 80% of students are vaccinated, and the U runs a seven-day average case count of 13.6.

Weber State University, Utah State University and Utah Valley University have also announced vaccine requirements effective the Spring 2022 semester.

Kate Duncan, a junior at WSU, said knowing her classmates aren’t all vaccinated doesn’t worry her but “People should get vaccinated. It’s not for you, it’s for everyone else.”

WSU, with a seven-day average case count of four, offers testing for students at the student health center as well as free vaccine clinics. Students, even those online only, are required to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 10, 2022 unless they are studying through concurrent enrollment or meet exemption requirements.

Other universities in Utah encourage students to get vaccinated, including Southern Utah University and Dixie State University.

On top of urging students to get vaccinated, Brigham Young University held vaccination clinics earlier this semester and continues to offer an appreciation voucher for vaccinated students. While BYU isn’t requiring the vaccine, students still must report their vaccination status to the university, as well as daily symptom checks and positive tests. BYU, with a student self-reporting system, has a seven-day average case count of eight.

Each school takes a unique approach to handling the pandemic in an effort to resume a traditional college experience for students. USU has implemented a seating chart system to assist with contact tracing, to notify students if they have been in contact. 

“In canvas, you register your seat now for all of these classes so they know what seat you sit in so they can contact trace around you, so they’re trying to be smart about it and it seems to me that they’re doing a really good job,” said Grayson Crowther, a USU sophomore.

USU, with a seven-day average case count of 12,  requires students to be vaccinated for the spring 2022 semester and forward, except for concurrent-enrollment, online-only and out-of-state grad students, and those who meet exemption requirements.

On the southern side of the state, while they didn’t provide their seven-day average, DSU had 18 active cases and SUU 31 as of Nov. 11. 

Jara Galvin, a freshman at SUU, feels safe and excited to be on campus. Students at SUU aren’t yet required to be vaccinated, but it’s strongly encouraged as well as other safety precautions.

“Around campus I usually find that students are wearing masks when they can’t social distance,” Galvin said. 

UVU, with a seven-day average case count of 7.2, is often broadcasting classes online for students who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Kaleb Belnap, a sophomore at UVU, said he prefers to go to live classes when safe.

“Last year was mainly online for me, so I am crazy excited to actually have classes in person,” Belnap said. “I actually get to talk to people and make buds. In person learning and teaching is a lot more convenient than what can be accomplished online.”

College during COVID-19 has become its own experience. Despite efforts to keep a traditional student life, students notice that they may never get that experience back. 

“I completed over half of my credits online,” Duncan said. “COVID ruined my first year of college — I don’t know what a typical college year or experience would be like. I almost dropped out of college during COVID because I was so frustrated with my college experience. I wasn’t able to socialize with my classmates and I was teaching myself.”

On the other hand, Galvin noted the energy at events she has been able to go to. At SUU, she appreciates the welcoming attitude of her classmates and the invites to get together, as it keeps students moving. 

“I think it’s kind of cool because at the few events we do have I’m seeing that everyone around me is appreciating it a lot more,” Galvin said. “Everyone’s just so excited and so happy to be back.”


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