OSU planning to require COVID-19 vaccine for fall term

Corvallis, Ore. residents awaiting and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations inside of Reser Stadium on the Oregon State University campus in February. On May 4, OSU leaders announced the university’s decision to require students and employees to have a COVID-19 vaccine to participate in on-campus activities and instruction.

Cara Nixon, News Contributor

Oregon State University is planning to implement a COVID-19 vaccination requirement beginning in the fall of 2021 for students and employees who engage onsite at OSU.

Previously, on April 23, OSU announced a COVID-19 vaccination requirement was a “possibility” and largely depended on the advice of health authorities and experts and a review of state and federal policies. 

On May 4, an all student email sent by Becky Johnson, OSU interim president, and Edward Feser, OSU provost and executive vice president, announced that OSU plans to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement beginning fall term 2021. 

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In the email it said the requirement will be for students and faculty members who learn or work on OSU campuses. 

Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations & Marketing, said the university decided to announce their intentions to require the vaccine instead of waiting for the Federal Drug Administration’s approval of it.

“We know our students, faculty and staff are looking forward to a resumption of in-person teaching and on-site activities,” Clark said. “OSU believes that the best way to contribute to the health and safety of students and employees is by continuing to engage in education about the benefits of vaccines; continue to assist people across Oregon to become vaccinated; and by announcing our plans to implement a vaccination requirement for students and employees beginning in fall.”

Details of the plan, including information on how OSU will be enforcing the requirement and handling exemptions, are currently being considered and discussed with student leaders, Faculty Senate leadership, employees and unions, according to Clark. 

“We anticipate that students and employees will be able to officially stipulate online that they have been vaccinated or request an exemption as allowed by state and federal policies and laws,” Clark explained. “We plan to implement this policy in fall with checkpoints for compliance throughout the term. The result of any non-compliance by students or employees will be determined in the months ahead.”

Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations is part of OSU’s “Pathway to Fall” plan, which encompasses steps to safely return to in-person learning. 

Currently, OSU is in discussions with student employees, Faculty Senate leadership and unions to finalize a COVID-19 vaccination program. The first step of the program is currently being implemented according to the email. This step includes educating and promoting vaccine availability. 

“A high rate of vaccination among our students, faculty and staff is needed to support the safety and well-being of our community and the communities across Oregon in which OSU provides services and operates,” Clark said. “It is up to each of us to contribute to personal and community wellness and safety by becoming fully vaccinated.”