WINONA — Saint Mary’s University will require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated for the upcoming fall semester once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves COVID-19 vaccinations, the university announced in a news release Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Individuals will be able to file a medical exemption or a non-medical exemption from this COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

RELATED: Winona State University requires masks for everyone

The decision was based on the significant increase in cases and transmission statistics, including that those vaccinated can spread the COVID-19 variant, and hospitalizations, said Ann Merchlewitz, senior vice president and general counsel.

“We’ve been very proud of how our students have shown great care and concern for one another throughout this pandemic,” she said. “Requiring the vaccination is an extension of this concern for others, particularly those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the delta variant. It will also allow us to continue a safe, uninterrupted, and personalized academic experience.”

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The university said the decision may change as it monitors the latest news and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health.

Beginning Thursday, Aug. 5, masks must be worn by all when inside any Saint Mary’s buildings and outside when physical distancing isn't possible. Campus buildings will be closed to the public, with the exception of rental agreements and guided admissions tours.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated vaccinations were required for all students, faculty and staff this fall without mentioning FDA approval.