PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Island has become the first state in the nation where all public and private colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the start of the fall semester.

Gov. Dan McKee made the announcement during his weekly briefing Tuesday, stating all 11 of the state’s colleges and universities are requiring students to be fully vaccinated before they’re allowed to return to campus.

“I am proud that Rhode Island’s institutions of higher education have all stepped up to do what is best to protect their communities and our state,” McKee said. “I commend our colleges and universities for their thoughtful decision and their efforts to keep Rhode Island healthy this school year and beyond.”

McKee said having the state’s student population fully vaccinated is all the more important as the R.I. Department of Health keeps a close eye on the Delta variant.

“The entire higher education community in Rhode Island should be commended for stepping up and helping to keep their students, staff and surrounding communities as safe as possible when it comes to COVID-19 by putting policies in place to get vaccination rates high,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said. “Vaccination is key to keeping our communities safe and to having a successful academic year.”

“We cannot let our guard down now,” she continued. “The Delta variant is now circulating in parts of the country where many of our students live. The good news is that the vaccines provide protection against this variant. Anyone who has not been vaccinated should get vaccinated.”

When it comes to whether it’s legal for colleges and universities to require students be immunized, University of Rhode Island’s David Lavallee said absolutely.

“We give them the option to file an exemption for personal or religious reasons, they just have to fill out the documents and provide that information to us, so its not like we are forcing everybody,” Lavallee explained.

“Overwhelmingly, parents and students have been very supportive of this requirement,” he continued. “Yes, there is always a few that have a concern over this, but generally people are eager to participate because they themselves as students want that campus experience again.”

Here’s a list of the vaccine requirements at each of the state’s colleges and universities: