On Aug. 17, University of Connecticut Interim President Dr. Andrew Agwunobi announced in a letter that all UConn Health and university campuses employees at all must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as students return to in-person classes this fall.
“As you are aware, at the University of Connecticut and UConn Health, our primary goal during this pandemic is to keep all employees, students, and patients safe. This is particularly important given the rise of the Delta variant and the upcoming start of in-person classes,” Agqunobi said. “To this end, we are writing to announce that in addition to our student vaccine mandate, UConn and UConn Health are now requiring that currently active and new employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”
UConn has almost 10,000 full and part-time employees, according to University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz, all of whom will have to provide proof of vaccination or request an exemption by Oct. 15, 2021.
According to the new policy that Reitz said is “similar to the policy already in place for students who live on campus and/or have in-person classes,” any employee who is granted a vaccine exemption for medical or religious reasons will need to be tested weekly.
Reitz emphasized that the new policy was created by the university “in collaboration with the unions that represent its faculty and staff,” such as the American Association of University Professors and the University Health Professionals.
In a UConn Reddit thread, undergraduate students responded positively to the interim president’s announcement.
Michelle Shavnya, a third-semester Speech Language and Hearing Sciences major, said that the vaccination requirement “should mitigate the threat that a variant like delta could pose” to the UConn community in the Fall.
Shavnya mentioned that she believes the interim president made the “right decision because students, staff, and faculty will be spending a significant amount of time on campus, it’s important for all of them to work together to protect each other.”
Still, Shavnya said that one area where the university could improve its COVID-19 response is in the non-medical vaccination exemptions.
“Medical exemptions are totally fine, but it seems like the non-medical exemption guidelines are pretty vague and create opportunities for people to come up with flimsy excuses for refusing vaccination,” Shavnya said via direct message. “Still, the vast majority of the student body (and I’m assuming staff/faculty) will be vaccinated, so I don’t think the small segment of people that haven’t been vaccinated will pose a major threat.”
Unvaccinated university employees can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination by calling the UConn Health Vaccine Call Center at 860-679-5589.