Notre Dame requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff

NOW: Notre Dame requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff

The University of Notre Dame notified employees this week all faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 2.

They must provide proof they are fully vaccinated by August 2, three weeks before the fall semester begins.

“I think there are definitely issues that arise in terms of making it mandatory. But, overall I think it’s a good idea and I think it’s a move in the right direction," said Jamie Youn, Notre Dame Student.

The university had already notified students they must be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrollment beginning this summer.

Faculty and staff can apply for an exemption for medical, religious or other strongly held beliefs. The process for requesting an exemption will be released next week.

“I would expect from certain corners there will be some push back and the point is not to get in a fighting match about it. But really just to promote an effort that will improve safety for the entire community," said Dr. Mark Fox, Deputy Health Officer for the St. Joseph County Health Department.

Those who request and are granted an exemption must undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a mask indoors.

Masks will still be required for faculty, staff and students indoors, including classrooms and non-residential buildings this summer.

“A lot of my older professors just had to be remote for health reasons. There’s definitely that risk and I think they’ll probably feel a lot better if the students are vaccinated and there’s no risk really associated there," said Jamie Youn, Notre Dame Student.

Full letter to faculty and staff:

As Commencement Weekend approaches, and we prepare to celebrate the many accomplishments of our graduates, we reflect once again on your tremendous commitment, resilience, and generosity over this past year. We could not be more grateful for all you have done to make this year as successful as it has been for the University and for our students.

Our top priority, of course, continues to be the health and safety of every member of our campus and local communities. We know a high rate of vaccination is critical to keeping our communities and families healthy. This led us to announce recently that we will require all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to be fully vaccinated as a condition of enrollment going forward, beginning with the 2021 summer term. In fact, student cases have dropped steadily since we opened the vaccination center on campus on April 8, from an average of 10 per day to no student cases for the past week.

After careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, we have decided to take the additional step of requiring all faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If you haven’t already done so, we ask that you provide verification of full vaccination no later than August 2, three weeks before the start of classes for the fall semester.

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the U.S. (Pfizer/BioNtech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) have proven to be both highly effective and very safe. The FDA conducted rigorous testing before these vaccines were released and they continue to be subject to careful monitoring. As national infection rates, as well as our own experience on campus, show, they are our best tool in the fight to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and bring the pandemic to an end.

To find a convenient vaccination site in Indiana, please visit the state’s vaccine information page. Michigan residents can likewise find a vaccination site at their state’s vaccine information page. Information on how to upload your vaccination information can be found on the HERE website.

Faculty and staff may apply for an exemption from the vaccination requirement for medical, religious, or other strongly held beliefs. We will send more information next week outlining the process for requesting an exemption. Please note the University will require those who receive approved exemptions to undergo regular COVID-19 surveillance testing and continue to wear masks indoors at Notre Dame.

Masks on campus this summer

As previously announced, faculty and staff working on campus this summer are asked to continue to wear their masks indoors (unless in a private office) regardless of their vaccination status. Students will also be required to wear masks indoors, including in classrooms and non-residential buildings; given that over 90% of students are now vaccinated, masking will be optional for fully vaccinated students within the residence halls.

We are, of course, aware of the recent CDC guidance indicating that vaccinated individuals can forgo masks indoors. However, with 28% of faculty and 43% of staff who have not yet confirmed vaccination, we have, after consultation with local public health officials, determined that the wisest course of action is to keep our masking protocols in place for the time being. As higher percentages of faculty and staff are vaccinated, we will adjust these policies accordingly.

There is much cause for optimism. Current case rates on campus and in the nation are trending downward, and leading health experts are upbeat about the potential to return to normalcy. At the same time, please remember that the overall vaccination rate in St. Joseph County currently hovers at 38%, and we urge you to continue to be careful. Even as we welcome positive developments, we will move forward carefully, taking the necessary steps to safeguard the health of our community. You can expect another communication from us next week that describes our process and initial plans as we prepare for the fall semester.

We hope these days of late May bring you a chance to rest and relax in the company of your loved ones. Know of our continued prayers and very best wishes.

In Notre Dame,
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University President
Marie Lynn Miranda, Charles and Jill Fischer Provost
Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President

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