The list of Minnesota private colleges that will require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to grow.

The College of St. Benedict and St. John's University announced vaccination requirements for students and employees Wednesday. Their mandates come just weeks before the start of the fall semester.

"This decision is driven by our desire to provide a safe, on-campus experience for our students and employees this fall and gives us the best chance for in-person classes, athletic events, community living and all the benefits our community has to offer," Laurie Hamen and James Mullen Jr., transitional presidents of the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, wrote in a joint statement.

The two presidents said the situation has changed with the fast-spreading delta variant pushing infection rates in "the wrong direction."

Faculty and staff at the two colleges must receive at least one vaccine dose by Aug. 24 and students must get at least one shot by Aug. 26.

Exemptions may be requested as allowed under Minnesota law.

Nearly a dozen Minnesota private colleges are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. The University of St. Thomas, Hamline University, Macalester College, Carleton College, St. Olaf College, St. Catherine University, Augsburg University, Gustavus Adolphus College and the Mitchell Hamline School of Law are also requiring the shots, as are hundreds of higher-education institutions nationwide.

Minnesota's public college systems, the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State, are not requiring their students and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. They are implementing mask mandates consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however.

Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234