ELON — Elon University will require all of its students to get a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus in the fall.
Elon's vaccine mandate, which it announced Thursday, applies to all students living in university housing, enrolled in on-campus or study abroad classes or taking part in activities on its main Alamance County campus or its law school campus in downtown Greensboro.
Wake Forest on Tuesday became the second North Carolina university to mandate vaccines for its students before fall semester classes start in August.
All undergraduate, graduate and law school students will be required to be vaccinated.
Undergraduate students will have to submit proof of vaccination by July 30, which is about three weeks before fall semester classes start Aug. 24. But students can apply by July 9 for medical or religious exemptions like they can with vaccines required by the state of North Carolina.
Elon is preparing for "a healthy, in-person and relationship-rich" fall semester and is "striving to reach the goal of a fully vaccinated campus," Elon vice president Jeff Stein wrote in a message to the university community Thursday. Stein chairs Elon's COVID-19 response task force.
Elon isn't requiring faculty and staff to be vaccinated. But the university said as of mid-June 82% of full-time on-campus faculty and staff were vaccinated. As of mid-May, more than 80% of Elon's undergraduates had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier, the university loosened its mask-wearing and social-distancing rules.
Elon stopped requiring students and employees to wear face coverings in most outdoor settings as of the end of April when the state of North Carolina lifted its outdoor mask mandate. Effective June 1, vaccinated persons no longer had to wear face coverings or follow social-distancing guidelines inside Elon's campus buildings.
Unvaccinated persons are still required to wear masks inside at Elon. In its message to students Thursday, Elon said it will announce masking and COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated students before the start of the fall semester.
Elon joins a slowly growing number of U.S. colleges and universities that are requiring students to be vaccinated before the new academic year begins.
As of Thursday, the Chronicle of Higher Education said 519 institutions are requiring students to be vaccinated before the upcoming academic year.
Elon became the ninth N.C. school with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The other eight, according to the Chronicle, are Brevard College, Duke University, Johnson & Wales University, Johnson C. Smith University, Lees-McRae College, Shaw University, the Charlotte campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary and Wake Forest University.