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Coronavirus Education News

UD announces vaccine mandate for staff

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University of Delaware announced it would require employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

NEWARK — Pushed by their famous alumni President Joe Biden, the University of Delaware is now requiring its staff to be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

The policy applies to all employees, including those in labor unions, those who work outside or at home or have already contracted COVID-19. UD employs roughly 4,500 people in its classrooms, dining halls, research labs and other locations, according to Delaware Business Times records.

UD will grant exemptions for people with legitimate medical or religious reasons. The university’s human resource office is developing policies to provide paid time off for vaccination as well as a protocol to review exemption requests, according to university spokesperson Peter Kerwin.

UD is also working on “establishing consequences for non-compliance,” Kerwin added.

As of today, 87% of employees are vaccinated,  including 91% of those employees on campus. UD, which has about 23,600 students enrolled, requires students to be inoculated or to be tested weekly. The student vaccination rate is 91%,according to university officials.

Delaware’s largest university had been encouraging its employees to get vaccinated or test weekly, but the Biden administration’s executive order issued in September changed the equation. The mandate orders federal employees and employees of workplaces connected to federal contracts to be vaccinated, and UD employees and programs are supported by federal funds.

UD’s announcement marks the largest confirmation of vaccination policies in higher education in the First State. 

Delaware College of Art and Design was the first to require vaccines for its students and staff in August, highly recommending students recieve shots before class returned. DCAD’s deadline was Oct. 15, and it has provided weekly COVID-19 testing. All of the DCAD faculty, 89% of the staff and 78% of the students are vaccinated, as of Oct. 12.

Delaware State University in Dover has no mandate, but the college has offered a $250 cash incentive for its staff, DSU spokesman Steve Newton said. DSU has about a 90% vaccine rate. Delaware Technical College officials told DBT that it will follow the vaccinate or be tested mandate set by Gov. John Carney by the end of September.

Goldey-Beacom College does not require faculty and staff to be vaccinated, but vaccine records have been requested. Those who do not provide proof of vaccination are required to wear masks and undergo  COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. The college also strong suggests face coverings and may require them for larger events as a precaution.

Goldey-Beacom College spokeswoman Janine Sorbello noted the college is “fortunate in that the majority of our faculty and staff are vaccinated and most of those that are not have been masking or are working remotely.”

But while UD’s announcement sets it apart from other colleges in the state, it follows a continuing trend by Delaware companies. Several private employers like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and AstraZeneca have already instituted such policies for client-facing positions. 

Officials at ChristianaCare and Saint Francis Hospital announced employees who did not get vaccinated would be fired. At ChristianaCare, at least 150 people were fired, but the vaccination rate rose from 63% to 93% percent in two months’ time.

Beebe Healthcare clarified it would not fire employees who were not vaccinated, but it would require weekly testing. Those who did receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine before Sept. 30 received eight hours of paid time off.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect an updated statement from Goldey-Beacom College. This article also incorrectly stated that University of Delaware was the first college to mandate vaccines, when in fact it was Delaware College of Art and Design.

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