State Watch

Virginia universities lift vaccine mandates after Youngkin’s order

Two Virginia universities are dropping their vaccine mandates for staff in order to comply with a recent order from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). 

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Virginia State University (VSU) both reversed their vaccine requirements for faculty and staff.

Virginia Commonwealth University issued a statement on Tuesday that said employees are “not required to be vaccinated, receive a booster or to report their vaccination status” to the university.

It added that COVID-19 surveillance testing and daily health checks are also no longer required for VCU employees. 

VCU added that more than 97 percent of faculty and staff were vaccinated and more than 95 percent of students were vaccinated and that it “strongly encourages” vaccination and boosters. 

The university cautioned that unvaccinated people are more likely to become infected and hospitalized compared to those who are vaccinated.

However, VCU added that masks will be required indoors throughout the university.

It reversed a previously announced directive from Jan. 14 asking VCU staff and students eligible for a booster to report receiving one by Feb. 1 or within 30 days of becoming eligible. 

In a statement to The Hill, Virginia State University spokesperson said “we are not dropping the vaccine requirement for students. However, in compliance with Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Directive Number Two issued on Jan. 15, 2022, Virginia State University (VSU) will no longer require employees to be fully vaccinated, report their vaccination status or undergo testing as a term of employment.”

The spokesperson added that in fall 2021, the university experienced “a 91 percent employee compliance to our vaccination requirement” which led to a less than one percent COVID positivity rate on campus. 

It added that the VSU administration “strongly requests, encourages, and appeals” to all employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and maintain a safe and healthy campus environment. 

VSU had announced on Dec. 29 that full COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots will be required for all students, faculty and staff for the Spring 2022 Semester.  

A number of other universities in Virginia have already dropped their vaccine mandates for staff and faculty to comply with the governor’s order, including Virginia Tech, UVA, William and Mary, University of Mary Washington, Longwood University, James Madison University and Norfolk State University. 

 

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