University to require COVID-19 vaccination for faculty, staff before fall semester
Observer Staff Report | Thursday, May 20, 2021
In an email to faculty and staff Thursday afternoon, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced Notre Dame will require all faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than August 2, three weeks before the start of classes for the fall semester.
According to the email, the decision was made “after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts.” Jenkins remarked that a high rate of vaccination “is critical to keeping our communities and families healthy.”
The email urged faculty and staff to find a vaccination site if they haven’t been vaccinated yet. Indiana’s vaccine information page and Michigan’s vaccine information page both offer residents information on distribution centers. For those who have already received the vaccine, the HERE website offers instructions to submit documentation to University Health Services.
This announcement comes more than a month after the University said all undergraduate, graduate and professional students would need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enroll for the 2021-2022 academic year. Since the vaccination center opened on campus April 8, the email added, “student cases have dropped steadily … from an average of 10 per day to no student cases for the past week.” The University dispensed with weekly surveillance testing May 10, after the student body reached a 90% vaccination rate on May 7.
Per the email, faculty and staff may apply for exemption from the vaccination requirement due to medical or religious reasons, or to “other strongly held beliefs.” More information on this process will be shared soon. Those who are granted an exemption from being vaccinated will have to undergo regular surveillance testing and wear masks indoors on campus.
Jenkins also addressed masking protocols for the near future. While masks are now optional for fully vaccinated students inside residence halls, they will still be required for everyone inside other campus buildings, including classrooms and non-residential buildings. This is due to the fact that 28% of faculty and 43% of staff have not yet documented vaccination, according to the email. Masking policies will be relaxed as more faculty and staff members receive the vaccine.
“Even as we welcome positive developments, we will move forward carefully, taking the necessary steps to safeguard the health of our community,” Jenkins added.