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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Simpson College debating if vaccines will be required for students

Luke Behaunek, the school's Dean of Students, said they do require other types of vaccines already.

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Colleges across the nation are requiring students and staff get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Simpson College in Indianola told Local 5 they are not requiring the vaccine. At least not yet.

“I don’t think it should be a strict requirement," said Olivia Curtis, a student.

Around 200 staff and students have tested positive since last fall semester.

And with 90% of full-time, undergraduate students living on campus, it sparked a vaccination clinic.

Luke Behaunek, the Dean of Students, said the school does require other types of vaccines already. And if a student chooses to get the COVID vaccine, they are required to tell the school.

"We have surveillance testing on campus and they don’t have to partake in the surveillance testing if they’ve been vaccinated or fully immunized," Behaunek said. 

Surveillance testing is when students are randomly picked and tested for the coronavirus.

Curtis was one of those students. 

"Simpson just sends out an email and 'You’ve been selected to get a COVID test' and then you just go in and get tested and wait for the results," she said.

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Another student, Jack Thomas, was randomly tested three different times.

But the school says surveillance testing has helped slow the virus' spread.

With both faculty and students waiting in line for the vaccine, the college is forced to look at the upcoming fall semester. 

“I think, largely, it’s in the whole institution's best interest and the student's best interest that a large percentage get vaccinated," Behaunek explained.

Iowa State University is also currently discussing this possibility of a vaccine requirement.