Coker University nearing 80% vaccination rate, other universities not keeping track

Pee Dee

HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — In August, when Coker University announced its COVID-19 policies, only 38% of their students were vaccinated. Currently at Coker University they have 75% students and 90% of the staff are vaccinated. They only need 40 more students to get vaccinated to hit 80% student vaccination.

“We’re not offering them any incentives. We’re not giving them huge prizes. We make very clear if you want college to be as normal as possible, if you want the experience coming back to Coker University, you need to be healthy,” Patrick Riccards, Coker Vice President, said.

“I’m just anxious for the rest of the 5% to get there but it does feel kind of good to know that I’m doing what I need to do for my community in terms of keeping it safe,” senior Tyler McCoy said.

Francis Marion University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Florence-Darlington Technical College are not able to share their numbers, citing state proviso 117.163, which restricts schools from requiring vaccination status or for repository reasonings.  

HGTC said in a statement: 

“The HGTC leadership team is monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and making necessary adjustments as needed.  The College takes very seriously the health and well-being of our employees and students.”

HGTC does not maintain a database that records the vaccination status of its employees and students.  We are not able to report how many of our students and employees are vaccinated because we do not have a repository of this information.

Considering the rise of COVID-19 cases in our community with the Delta variant, we thought it was in the best interest of everyone to require face coverings indoors for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.  This mandate applies to all spaces across campus except for private offices.  The face covering requirement became effective Friday, August 20 until further notice.  We are monitoring the situation and will lift the requirement as soon as we feel comfortable.  Vaccination clinics were hosted during the College’s Welcome Back events.  Employees and students are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, unless they have medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from being vaccinated.

Currently at Coker, COVID-19 policies include a mask mandate inside campus facilities and library capacity limits, but that could change.

“Right now you can only be in your residence hall,” Riccards said. “Once we hit 80% if you’re vaccinated you can go into whatever residence hall you want. You can see your friends, you can hang out, you can do the things college students do. That’s what our Coker students want and that’s what we are trying to give them.”

Riccards also said that if the university reaches that 80% herd immunity within the next month, the president has agreed to give the students and staff a campus day off along with the following:

  • Fully vaccinated students DO NOT need to wear masks indoors.
  • We can have full capacity for indoor and outdoor athletics events without a mask if fully vaccinated
  • Library study rooms (with our new extended hours) would be at 100% capacity and vaccinated students wouldn’t have to wear masks in the library
  • And most importantly, at least to many of you in August, fully vaccinated students would be allowed to visit other fully vaccinated residential students in the residence halls (while following masking and social distance guidelines). So no longer being restricted just to your assigned residence hall.

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