HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Yale was the first to require students to be vaccinated to attend classes in the fall, then it was the University of Connecticut, now the state college system is following suit.
The Board of Regents for High Education (BOR) voted Thursday afternoon to require all students who attend Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 during the fall 2021 semester.
“The vaccines that are currently authorized in the United States are safe, effective, and critical to resuming normal operations at our campuses this fall,” said Dr. Jane Gates, interim president of CSCU. “Now is the time for students planning on attending college this fall to get vaccinated. With more infectious, more severe variants becoming more and more prevalent, getting your shot is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and our communities.”
This policy contains processes for students to request vaccine exemptions for medical or non-medical reasons.
Ernestine Weaver, legal counsel for the BOR explained, “Students with needs may request medical exemptions or non-medical exemptions from vaccination.”
Professor David Blitz of Central Connecticut State University added, “My own hope is that exemptions will be for approved medical reasons, and that we clearly indicate that application for exemption in the non-medical area does not mean automatic acceptance.”
This is, of course, only for students taking in-person courses. Those who attend these schools online only are not required to be vaccinated.
The second part of the motion was to require all employees to be vaccinated, which is easier said than done because there are many employees on the campuses across the state who belong to many different unions.
Weaver explained, “In order for us to require that unionized employees be vaccinated, we must receive consent from each employee bargaining unit. If a bargaining unit does not consent, then its members cannot be compelled to be vaccinated.”
The Board of Regents says they have made progress talking to the unions and some are in favor of it. However, the Board gave authority to the president to create safeguards for employees who do not want to be vaccinated.
Weaver added, “Creating policies that require all employees to be masked at all times while indoors on a Board of Regency controlled property unless the employee attests to being fully vaccinated.”
This decision came about following a work group formed by Dr. Gates in May to determine whether a vaccine mandate was feasible.