What to expect: fall 2021 edition

A conversation with the student health center


Nathan Herde

Linfield University will require students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated before the beginning of the 2021 fall semester.

For some students, the 2021 fall semester at Linfield University might be their first “normal” college experience.

“Our goal is to have Linfield functioning pretty much back to normal,” said Patricia Haddeland, director of the Student Health, Wellness, and Counseling Center (SHWCC) at the McMinnville campus. “We want it to be like what students expect college to be.”

Linfield announced in June that all students, faculty, and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to campus in August, unless they file an exemption with the school. Those who are not vaccinated will need to continue to wear masks in most settings. Fully-vaccinated individuals can choose whether to wear a mask in almost all settings.

Linfield shared this graphic to help students, faculty, staff and guests learn when masks are required on campus, starting on June 21.

“People who are vaccinated are protected from the virus–those who are not, wear masks to protect themselves,” Haddeland said. 

Haddeland stressed that no one wants to be the “vaccine police” or “mask police.” However, unvaccinated individuals who refuse to wear a mask will be in violation of school policy

The only known medical reason for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is if a person is allergic to the vaccine or its ingredients. Other than that, Haddeland said, those who do not get a vaccine are choosing not to for their own, personal reasons.

She added that students who file a non-medical exemption from the rule need to show that they understand the personal risks they are taking by choosing not to be vaccinated. That includes checking in with a healthcare provider before submitting the paperwork to the school. 

Part of the hope for “back to normal” is based on the assumption that most Linfield community members will be vaccinated. Some experts cite 70% as a threshold for population immunity against COVID-19. There is not a goal for percent-vaccinated of Linfield’s population, Haddeland said, but she suspects the number might be higher than 70%. 

“We’re just aiming for the best we can do,” she said, adding again that not being vaccinated is a personal choice and a personal risk.

Students returning in the fall can expect a different atmosphere than the 2020-2021 school year. Classes will be primarily in-person only, the Dillin Dining Hall and outdoor classroom tents will be gone, and “robust student activities” are planned, according to Haddeland. And most community members, she said, will not be wearing masks most likely.

Visitors will be allowed on campus again, though they will be required to wear a mask in most settings on campus regardless of their vaccination status. Haddeland said this is because people outside of the Linfield community do not have their vaccination records on file with the school.

Periodic, randomized screening for COVID-19 will no longer be in place, though testing is still available if needed.

Some of the changes brought on by the pandemic will remain at the McMinnville campus. The SHWCC is keeping a screening room designated for respiratory illnesses and there are still specific residences set aside for quarantining, though there are less than last year.

Haddeland said the school understands that there is a risk of breakthrough infections occurring on campus, even among the fully-vaccinated. That’s why there are still measures in place to handle cases.

The start of the school year is still about two months away. Haddeland said a lot can change between now and then with the pandemic, vaccines, variants, laws, or otherwise. But she’s confident that Linfield can make it through.

“Last year was a year of learning and adapting,” she said. “I think we better understand resiliency now.”


For more information on:

  • Linfield’s vaccine policies, click here.
  • COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., click here.
  • How to submit vaccination records or exemptions to Linfield, click here.