Moravian and The Pandemic: Where Are We Now?

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

With the future of our battle with COVID-19 left largely up in the air and a huge increase in daily infections both in the Lehigh County and in the United States at large, Moravian University students have returned to campus once again for another semester of primarily in-person schooling. 

While some classes are remaining partially on Zoom, most Moravian classes are continuing with in-person masking guidelines. 

However, with all major COVID-19 vaccines now approved by the Food & Drug Administration, many are wondering why Moravian has not mandated the vaccine for its students, especially when Lehigh University and Lafayette University are now requiring that their students get boosted. 

Many colleges across the country are now requiring that their students get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“After many hours of deliberation and meetings with healthcare and infectious disease experts, we decided that strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, not mandating, was the best course of action for Moravian.” Vice President for Human Resources Jon Conrad said to The Comenian. “The OSHA mandate temporarily forced a direction change, but the mandate which called for mandatory vaccines allowed for testing every seven days for those that remained unvaccinated.  With the mandate shut down by the U.S. Supreme Court, we went with what had been successful since the start of COVID, strongly suggesting students and employees get the vaccines and boosters, but not requiring it. 99% of our full-time faculty are vaccinated, as are approximately 85% of staff.” 

Currently, 79% of students at Moravian’s are at least partially vaccinated, according to Moravian’s COVID-19 Dashboard. The dashboard doesn’t specify what percentage of those students only have one of their two vaccinations or how many students have gotten their booster shot. 

In Pennsylvania, 65% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 82% were given at least one dose, according to The New York Times.

Numerically speaking, we’re in the worst wave of cases the country has ever seen. However, the landscape has changed for the better, thanks to the availability of vaccines, despite resistance from anti-vaxxers. 

“I feel about as safe as I usually do, but I’m not at risk or anything like that, so I don’t think I can speak for the people who are,” said Sam Houser (‘23 secondary education English major), about Moravian’s COVID policy. “Vaccine mandates make sense to me for the most part. I know some people who say they can’t get it for medical reasons, and I would feel bad for saying they can’t attend school because of things they can’t control. I guess a mandate with reasonable exceptions [might work].”

Education major Maya Johnston (’22) is more adamant.“With rising cases of omicron and living with immunocompromised people, I do not feel safe [on campus],” she said. “The COVID protocols are not 100% followed and I generally don’t feel like this dire situation is taken seriously enough.” Johnson believes that Moravian should mandate the vaccine, or at least require weekly negative tests. “It’s not realistic to ask for 100% vaccination rates, but 80-90% would be ideal.” The mandates could be less strict or nonexistent if proper COVID protocols were taking place at the school, she said.

Caileigh Rosa (‘23, music education major) says she doesn’t feel safe on campus because she knows many students are unvaccinated and don’t regularly wear masks. “I also know that the [Moravian University] health center now doesn’t seem to care much about quarantining if you’re vaccinated, which is something I am not comfortable with. I think [Moravian] should mandate the COVID vaccine. It’s a private university and there’s no reason why they can’t, they just don’t want to. It’s important for everyone to get it in order for us to be safe and finally get out of this pandemic.” 

Rae Gonzalez echoed Caileigh’s sentiment on safety: “I don’t feel very safe being on campus right now,” says the ‘22 psychology and sociology major, “because living in a dorm and sharing so many communal spaces all the time is counterproductive to the information the school is spreading about keeping campus safe. I think that everyone should have a choice [to get vaccinated]. As long as people’s health concerns are being taken seriously and everything is done to keep the spread down, then I’m not sure if a mandated vaccine would add anything else. It’s more likely that we’ll all end up with the vaccine in due time.”

Moravian’s decision to not require the vaccination is “irresponsible,” in the eyes of Nicole Bellesfield (‘25 music education major), particularly when other colleges in the area have. Bellesfield is vaccinated, boosted, and wears a mask, which makes her feel somewhat safe. But because other Moravian students aren’t, she knows she could still catch COVID. “And that worries me,” she said. “If [the vaccine] were mandated, [at least] we would not have to worry as much about the consequence if we wanted to hang out with our friends.”

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below on how you think Moravian is handling COVID-19 on campus.