Texas A&M offers free tuition for vaccinated undergraduates



Texas A&M makes the vaccination interesting for students: Those who prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 could get paid for their education. But don’t play by the rules and risk being kicked out.

The state college on Thursday presented a list of requirements, new rules and incentives for students and employees. They include compulsory testing and a draw for one year of undergraduate tuition and fees paid in full for enrolled students who present proof of vaccination.

In addition to the raffle that will take place later this fall, the university will be offering an employee incentive program.

All students and employees are also required to participate in a mandatory testing program at no cost, whether or not they have been vaccinated, the university said. A first round of tests, which includes both saliva and nasal swab tests, takes place between August 23 and September 10.

Off-campus testing by entities other than the university will not be accepted, officials said.

All members of the A&M community who test positive for COVID-19, show symptoms, or have come into contact with someone who tested positive are required to self-quarantine, report their case to the university, and work with the A&M COVID-19 investigation operations center.

Students who test positive should also self-isolate or quarantine off campus, unless otherwise authorized by the university, and should communicate and make arrangements with their professors as the number of distance courses created during the pandemic will not be offered this year.

The university will also ban eating in classrooms, officials said.

Students who fail to comply with COVID-19 reporting, testing, isolation and quarantine requirements could face suspension, expulsion or the risk of being considered “not in good standing.”

The latter designation could render a student ineligible for a position in a university organization and could bar them from participating in athletics or any position that represents the university in any way, the statement said. Employees who do not comply could result in a written reprimand, a blow to their merit increases, or more severe disciplinary action.

The college, which has plans to host in-person classes at full capacity, is not alone in detailing new restrictions as a recent wave of COVID-19 and the delta variant worries communities across the country.

Rice University said Tuesday it would again require indoor masks for all individuals this fall after lifting those requirements in May. The Private University of Houston has also banned inter-varsity events that are generally open to the public, delayed the reopening of its campus pub, and plans to ramp up testing. Those who are vaccinated should be tested every two weeks, and those who are not, twice a week.

Rice is also demanding that all students – except those with medical waivers or those citing religious reasons – be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for classes this fall.

On Thursday, the university noted that all graduate students must declare their vaccination status at university or they could be tested twice a week, prevented from enrolling in courses, removed from the university’s course management system, and ultimately removed from their program.

“The university takes this requirement seriously,” an official at Rice wrote in a letter to graduate students.

Baylor University, a private college in Waco, will not require masks, but has encouraged those who are not vaccinated to wear them indoors. Weekly testing will be required for students who have not been vaccinated or who tested positive within 180 days.

Public colleges, which were banned by Governor Greg Abbott to do mask mandates, have carefully formulated their requirements to the students.

The University of Houston – which began its full return to campus on Monday – encouraged those who are not vaccinated to wear masks on campus and for those who are vaccinated to wear them for an “added level of protection.”

Campuses like A&M and UH also make vaccines free and readily available.

Texas Southern University announced Thursday that it will extend its on-campus vaccination clinic for an additional two months, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week.

“We encourage everyone to take advantage of the free and friendly vaccination process,” TSU President Dr Lesia Crumpton-Young said in a written statement.

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