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UD announces hardline vaccine mandate

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The University of Delaware announced it would terminate employees who are not vaccinated by Jan. 4. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEWARK — The University of Delaware, the largest higher education institute in the state, announced it would terminate employees who are not vaccinated as of Jan. 4.

The hardline decision came a week before President Joe Biden announced new mandates for testing or vaccination for large employers, but the university had the policy last month. Back then, the deadline was Dec. 8 and the consequences of non-compliance were unclear.

UD officials extended the deadline to line up with the new federal mandate, which is currently being challenged in federal court. The outcome of that case would not affect UD’s ability to enforce its own policy.

UD, which employs about 4,500 people overall, is the only Delaware college and university that has announced it will terminate or separate staff who are not vaccinated. Vaccine exemptions for specific medical conditions and religious beliefs will be granted upon request.

UD President Dennis Assanis told the Board of Trustees in October the decision was made by its most famous alumni, Biden, as another executive order mandates vaccines for employees or employers with federal contracts.

“We do intend to comply, because if we don’t comply, the impact on our workforce would be tremendous,” Assanis said, according to the Newark Post. “Obviously, federal funds support internal employees around the institution and our students and our programs.”

At this point, UD maintains a vaccination rate of 91% for employees and students, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. That means about 4,095 employees are already vaccinated.

The university is the first to announce it would separate with employees who are not vaccinated, although it is one of two that require staff to be vaccinated.

The Delaware College of Art and Design was the first to require vaccines for its students and staff in August, and recommended students get shots before class returned. Delaware State University offered a cash incentive to staff who did receive the vaccine, but it and Goldey-Beacom College do not mandate staff vaccines.

Delaware Technical Community College has strictly ordered staff to be vaccinated or provide a weekly test result, in accordance with Gov. John Carney’s executive order. That order required that key state staff be vaccinated by Sept. 30 or regularly tested. He has since required around 20,000 educators in Delaware’s schools to be vaccinated.

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