University of Dayton to require COVID-19 vaccination for all staff, student employees

DAYTON — All employees of the University of Dayton, including student employees, will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by December or submit a request for an approved exemption, UD officials said in a message to campus members Monday.

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The vaccine requirement is part of the university’s compliance with the executive order issued by President Joe Biden in September that requires vaccines for federal workers, contractors, and others.

“The University has long been a federal contractor, conducting important research, supporting undergraduate and graduate students, and advancing the local economy. Based on these contracts, the University campus is considered a federal contractor workplace and, therefore, the entire employee base is subject to the terms of the executive order,” a university spokesperson said in the announcement.

All UD employees, including student employees, are required to submit a record of COVID-19 vaccination by Dec. 8 “to maintain their employment status.” Those seeking a religious or medical exemption are required to complete a form and submit the request by Nov. 24.

Staff members or student employees who have not submitted their vaccination record or applied for an exemption will be contacted directly by the university with details and steps that must be taken, along with a link to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment.

The university did not require vaccinations ahead of the fall term unlike several schools across the state. University President Dr. Eric Spina addressed UD’s vaccine policy in a Sept. 7 email to campus members, citing the over 70 percent vaccination rate, anticipated medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions, and logistical issues, Spina said the university chose against mandating vaccines at the time.

“In sum, then, the decision is a pragmatic one, weighing a range of factors, and is *not* a political or ideological statement,” Spina said in the Sept. 7 email.

“If I believed that mandating the COVID-19 vaccine would truly increase the vaccination rate, we would do so, but I just don’t believe that it will, given the totality of the circumstances in which we are operating. I understand that some of you will still not agree with the decision to not implement a mandate, but I believe it is important for you to understand some of the complexities with which we are dealing and the reasons why we have not mandated the vaccine,” Spina said.

As of Monday, 74 percent of the entire campus community and 84 percent of all employees have been vaccinated, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“Our vaccination incentive program during the summer resulted in nearly three-quarters of our community being vaccinated, and our current COVID-19 protocols have resulted in low and decreasing incidence of the virus on campus. Our approach is indeed working, and we thank everyone for their continued efforts to protect our community against COVID-19,” university officials said in the message Monday.

“However, as a federal contractor and responsible citizen, the University must comply with the federal requirements. As stated in the executive order, “These safeguards will decrease the spread of COVID-19, which will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at sites where they are performing work for the Federal Government.”

We’ll update this story as we learn more.