Duke University officials last week announced that the campus had reached a “major milestone” after more than 90 percent of all students, faculty, and staff were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Apparently, campus authorities think it’s time to put away the carrot and break out the stick to prompt more of its employees to get the jab.
On Sunday, the university’s top administrators announced that it was in the process of revising its COVID-19 vaccination policy, and faculty and staff are now required to receive the vaccine if they want to keep their jobs.
Campus administrators also warned that employees “terminated for non-compliance would not be eligible for rehire with Duke in the future,” according to the announcement.
Faculty and staff members may apply for a medical or religious exemption, “but anyone approved for an exemption will be subject to daily symptom monitoring, weekly surveillance testing, continued masking and other protocols applicable to those who have not been vaccinated,” officials said.
On Friday, Duke officials said that more than 90 percent of all faculty, staff, and students were fully vaccinated.
“The remaining gap is even smaller considering the additional individuals who have received the first dose but are not yet fully vaccinated,” officials said in a statement.
Responses on social media expressed measured support of the vaccine mandate.
Benjamin Meier, a UNC global health policy professor, noted on Twitter that his university “asked really nicely [for people to get the vaccine]…and is facing widespread outbreaks across campus. Maybe UNC needs a new game plan.”
A cynical Twitter user claimed the university was being “authoritarian” for issuing the vaccine mandate.
Those who are not in compliance by October 1 will receive a final written warning and be placed on administrative leave, Duke officials said in the announcement.
At that point, faculty and staffers will have seven days to receive either the one-dose J&J vaccine or the first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, which received full approval last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“If an individual does not receive either the J&J or the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna within seven days after the Oct. 1 deadline, they will be terminated at the end of that seven-day period,” the school administrators said.
Late Monday afternoon, Duke announced it is updating its COVID-19 guidelines as COVID metrics keep climbing despite the university’s high number of vaccinated students, staff, and faculty members. The university reported that 304 undergraduates, 45 graduate students, and 15 employees tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of classes.
The university will now require masks in all indoor and outdoor locations, with exceptions for exercising alone outdoors, actively eating or drinking, or otherwise not being around others. Additionally, group seating at indoor dining facilities will be temporarily suspended and all dining facilities will transition to grab and go.
Students also will need to register organization programs with gatherings of more than 50 people with DukeGroups and off-campus gatherings will be limited to 50 people, with mask-wearing mandatory.
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