The California State University statewide system announced on Tuesday they would be joining the growing list of entities and require that those students returning to campus this fall must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
All faculty, staff, and students are covered under the new requirement and must give vaccination certification to their school by September 30th. While a few exemptions will be offered, they will only be based on medical and religious reasons.
Initially, CSU was only planning required vaccinations following FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, a recent spike in cases due to the Delta variant almost entirely infecting those who have not been vaccinated.
“The current surge in COVID cases due to the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant is an alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors to our campuses this fall,” said California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro in a statement on Tuesday. “Receiving a COVID vaccine continues to be the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus. We urge all members of the CSU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and announcing this requirement now allows members of the CSU community to receive multiple doses of a vaccine as we head into the beginning of the fall term.”
“The FDA has not yet given full approval and we’re getting closer to the beginning of the academic term. Just as importantly, the increasing spread of the highly infectious Delta variant really prompted a change in view. We are making sure that at each campus, we will have aggressive efforts to vaccinate our students, faculty and staff. Many of our campuses had clinics on site and others entered into partnerships with other organizations. I anticipate we will continue to enhance those efforts.”
A more general announcement by CSU added that “For students who plan to continue their studies but do not wish to come to campus during the fall, it is expected that most campuses will have a more expansive offering of virtual courses as compared to before the pandemic, though resource limitations do not allow for a campus’ or even a program’s full offerings to be made available virtually.”
CSU joins state, UC, others in requiring vaccine to work, study
CSU now joins a growing list of California institutions that is mandating that employees, a well as others with a long-term association with an institution, such as students, have to vaccinate in order to return. Last month, an order by San Francisco to require vaccinations for all city workers started a snowball effect that added other institutions and organizations in making the vaccine mandatory. Influenced by the delta variant spike, The University of California (UC) system introduced a policy almost identical to CSU’s two weeks ago, with Governor Gavin Newsom announcing on Monday that all California state workers will be required to be vaccinated.
Despite being implemented on Tuesday, the details of the mandate are still being worked on. For example, CSU has no clear disciplinary process for those who refuse to be vaccinated, only a vague warning that says, “Any student or employee who does not provide certification may be denied access to Campus/Programs.”
Faculty labor unions, who would likely block any firings or major disciplinary action for non-vaccinators, are also currently negotiating what would happen to faculty members in different scenarios.
While many student and faculty groups showed approval for the requirement on Tuesday, many noted concern over the vague punishments that could be levied against them.
“This is scary,” Antoine Springer, a parent with two unvaccinated CSU students, said to the Globe Tuesday. “Our entire family does not want to take it because it hasn’t been approved. To us, this was just a rushed vaccine that people are taking on a limb that it is all ok. And now we have no idea if our kids can even attend this year without being thrown out. They want to increase the number of people of color in universities, and here they are barring people who don’t vaccinate – a large portion of whom are people of color. To a lot of us, this feels almost like targeting.”
CSU’s decision was backed by all 23 CSU University presidents on Tuesday. More mandatory vaccination requirements are expected to be announced by more public and private organizations in the coming weeks.