This June, the Biden Administration issued a new initiative as colleges across the country prepare and hope for a full residential return to campus this fall. The COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge encourages institutions across the country to join the fight towards achieving herd immunity against the coronavirus.
While the Department of Education recently released $36 billion with their last COVID-19 relief package to assist more than 5,000 institutions that are part of high-risk COVID-19 communities, there is still work to be done. Even larger institutions where the rates of infection have slowed down still have a cause for concern that another surge will occur or that variants will spread as campuses reopen.
But what exactly is the Challenge? And how can a college or university get involved? Find out below.
What is the COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge?
President Biden’s COVID-19 mission is simple: he wants as many Americans as possible to get vaccinated. In response to this, his Administration launched this effort.
While there is resistance to the vaccine among groups of Americans, the vaccination rate of those under 24 and under is the lowest. The timing of the Challenge is crucial as students have returned home for the summer and will be returning for the fall semester in a few, short months.
Any college or university that takes the Challenge pledge is committing to three key actions to help get their college community vaccinated.
1.) Engage every student, faculty, and staff member on campus
Schools committing to the challenge can engage their population through the school’s communication tools with the goal of ensuring that every member of the community knows they are eligible for a vaccine and where they can get one. Universities will ask the members of the community what their plan is and provide information and resources specifically created for the student population.
2.) Organize the college community
Campuses participating in the challenge will also pave the way by highlighting champions of the school’s vaccine efforts across campus and implement a plan to get as many members of the community vaccinated as possible. This may come through hosting campus meetings to roll out a college-wide plan or identifying key leaders to target peer-to-peer outreach. Schools will also look towards administrators and student leaders speak up on social media and campus outlets to highlight how getting vaccinated will return them to the campus they love.
3.) Deliver vaccine access for all
Provide the vaccine in the school community. Schools can offer the vaccine on campus, or partner with local providers to administer it. Walkthrough the steps with everyone so they can make a plan and then set a goal to track success.
College Presidents can spread their reach and pledge to become a “Vaccine Champion College” by committing to all the above!
How can an institution get involved?
Any college or university can participate and it’s easy to sign up to take the pledge! All they need to do is visit whitehouse.gov/COVIDCollegeChallenge/.
What is the goal of the COVID College Challenge?
President Biden and his Administration have set a goal of having 70 percent of the country vaccinated by July 4. To reach this goal, the administration must look creatively at areas where virus immunity is needed the most.
By implementing the Challenge, they are hoping schools will sign up to take the pledge, get their students on board, and help the country reach this important vaccination goal.
Why should an institution participate in this?
When a school participates in the Challenge, they are helping the country beat the virus. It’s on each of us to do our part to return to normalcy and by participating in this effort, we’re helping reach the goal.
Any school that signs up for this pledge will be listed on the White House Challenge website and the White House will feature “Vaccine Champion Colleges” throughout the summer on social media, at events, and in remarks.
How is the Challenge going?
The increased awareness from the Challenge seems to be working. More than 90 percent of institutions have reported that their populations have gotten, or plan to get, vaccinated. And so far, more than 250 schools have made the Challenge pledge and have signed up.
What resources are available?
For participating schools, the White House encourages them to make their plan public, track progress, and share on social media! For those looking to get started, some helpful resources include:
- A Social Media Toolkit to help with schools’ communication strategies. Also, “Vaccine Champion Colleges” should use #COVIDCollegeChallenge and #WeCanDoThis hashtags on social media to report out on progress.
- The launch of a new student focus within the Administration’s COVID-19 Community Corps. With this, leaders will create educational materials focused on a younger demographic and will host training sessions for college and student leaders. In these, they’ll work on training young Americans to become vaccine champions in their community to encourage everyone to get out and get vaccinated and will provide tips on how to host community events to build vaccine confidence.
- High-enrollment community colleges interested in participating in this initiative can email [email protected] for more information on how to make the vaccine more accessible.
- Schools can also email [email protected] or visit the White House’s Challenge Webpage for additional resources and materials throughout the summer
Reaching the goal
With vaccines being accessible to those ages 16 and older, millions of young Americans are already vaccinated, and hundreds of schools have prioritized vaccinating students, faculty, and staff before the end of the school year.
We’re all in this together. With a sound plan and access to the vaccine, we can look forward to embracing a safer, more connected school year.
Learn more about how Wellfleet has strengthened its commitment to our clients and student members.