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Breaking: WSU Will Require All Employees, Including Students, To Be Vaccinated

COVID Testing and Vaccination Center

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Center | Photo by Caitlin Shatsby | The Wright State Guardian

All Wright State University (WSU) employees, including student employees, must be fully vaccinated or receive a medical or religious exemption by Jan. 4, 2022.

WSU is changing its employment policy to include a COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to federal policies. 

The new policy 

In a campus-wide communication, WSU announced a change in university policy regarding mandatory COVID vaccination for all university employees, including student employees. 

According to the communication, all university employees must receive full COVID vaccination and upload proof of vaccination by Jan. 4, 2022.

Vaccine documentation

The vaccine mandate for WSU employees including student employees applies to both the Dayton and Lake campus. 

In order to meet the Jan. 4 deadline, the unvaccinated must receive their first dose of a two-dose vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna, by Nov. 30, 2021, and their second dose by Dec. 21, 2021.

Those wishing to receive the one-shot Jhonson and Jhonson vaccine must do so by Dec. 21, 2021. 

All COVID vaccine documentation must be uploaded to the Med+Procter site, provided by the university. 

COVID vaccination is now a condition of university employment. Those who refuse to become vaccinated may face disciplinary actions, according to the campus-wide email. 

The policy applies to full and partially remote employees. 

Federal policy 

This new policy is a result of a federal mandate passed via executive order by President Joseph Biden’s administration. 

The executive order, passed in September 2021, requires all employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccination within their workforce.

The order applies to universities like WSU, due to their relationships with the federal government and participation in federal contracts. 

The executive order and WSU’s policy is to be enforced via the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Receiving vaccination

According to the communication, WSU employees looking to receive COVID vaccination may use the free Testing and Vaccination center on campus, Wright State Physicians or a local pharmacy. 

Those seeking exemption from the requirement must utilize the Office of Disability Services.

Biden’s initiative 

President Joseph Biden announced Sept. 9 a new plan for vaccine mandates in the U.S. including a plan requiring employers with 100 or more workers to mandate COVID vaccination in the workplace, according to the White House press release. 

Enforced through the Department of Labors’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the emergency standard includes guidance on COVID mandatory vaccination, testing, masking and physical distancing.

Aimed at health care workers, immunocompromised individuals and the unvaccinated, the standard also encourages employers and employees in high transmission areas to follow its guidance. 

“This guidance is also intended to help employers and workers who are located in areas of substantial or high community transmission, who should take appropriate steps to prevent exposure and infection regardless of vaccination status,” OSHA’s press release said. 

Greene County, the county in which WSU’s main campus resides, is labeled as a high transmission area according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Legality of plan 

The announcement of Biden’s plans prompts questions of legality and application to higher education.

According to WSU political science professor John Feldmeier, the legality of the plan is ultimately decided by higher court systems, if and when the bill is officially contested. Due to the emergency situation of the global pandemic, Biden’s plan holds legal standing. 

Feldmeier added that while there is no set guidance on whether the plan applies to state universities, logic would indicate that due to the fact state institutions employ over 100 workers and receive federal funding from the state, it would apply.

Wright State’s decision

As of Sept. 29, WSU was originally hesitant on implementing a vaccine mandate for faculty, staff, student workers or students at large.

According to Bauguess, the university was awaiting guidance from higher government authorities. 

The branch of the American Association of University Professors previously voiced their support of Biden’s plan and expressed a desire for a vaccine mandate on campus. 

“AAUP-WSU strongly advocates that all students, faculty, and staff be vaccinated and that WSU policy [mandates] it. … We believe in providing the safest environment possible for our students and for the faculty and staff who serve them,” Robert Rubin, president of AAUP-WSU, wrote. WSU continues optional COVID testing and masking. Learn more here >>

Jamie Naylor