California State University schools will require all faculty, staff and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they plan to attend a CSU campus during the fall 2021 term, the university system said Tuesday.
CSU officials chose to issue the requirement before the vaccines are formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “because of evolving circumstances.”
However, public health officials have underscored the vaccines’ safety, noting that nearly 4 billion doses have been administered worldwide, substantially limiting serious COVID-related illness and death among vaccinated populations particularly in the U.S.
CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro cited the ultra-contagious delta variant as one reason the university system will require the vaccine to protect CSU students and employees.
“Receiving a COVID vaccine continues to be the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus,” Castro said in a statement. “We urge all members of the CSU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and announcing this requirement now allows members of the CSU community to receive multiple doses of a vaccine as we head into the beginning of the fall term.”
According to the CSU chancellor’s office, vaccination deadlines will vary by campus, but all vaccination status certifications must be completed by Sept. 30.
Vaccines are available on-site at several CSU campuses and unvaccinated students and staff are encouraged to contact their campus to determine their options and availability.
Students and employees will also have access to medical and religious exemptions and virtual courses if they do not intend to attend class on campus.
Catherine Hutchinson, president of the CSU Employees Union, said in a statement that the CSUEU and other labor officials met with Castro Tuesday morning and fully support “all efforts, whether it be through the state or the CSU, to ensure vaccinations reach more Californians.”
“Throughout the pandemic, our Union has worked closely with the California State University to prioritize student and staff safety, from demanding (personal protective equipment) to creating the conditions for students to return to schools safely,” Hutchinson said.
The California Faculty Association — which represents professors and lecturers at all 23 CSU campuses — said in a statement that its leaders will work with the chancellor’s office to ensure that students and staff are protected from the virus on campus.
“I am vaccinated, and I encourage faculty to get vaccinated if they can so that we all do our part to make the CSU a safe place to work,” CFA President Charles Toombs said.
CSU officials plan to unveil their formal vaccination policy in the coming days, according to Castro’s office.