By Celina Daigle

As UConn attempts to bring campus back to life this Fall 2021 semester, vaccinations and masks have become a requirement for all students and staff to help fight the spread of CoVid-19. Dr. Agwunobi, current Interim President and Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of UConn Health, announced the week of August 15, 2021 that a mandate would be put in place for all currently active and new employees, as well as volunteers or any individual who is contracted with the University of Connecticut. The policy will coincide at all UConn campuses. 

According to Human Resources the requirement for vaccines will be in effect for all, regardless of in person or remote work status, state of residency, and their payroll status. There are of course exemptions due to personal or specific circumstances, medical and religious exemptions, receiving recent positive CoVid-19 test results or treatment, and/or are currently breastfeeding or pregnant. 

The purpose of the mandate is to ensure that all students, faculty, staff and community members are situated in a healthy environment, protected from the virus. If an individual chooses to apply for exemption from the vaccine and is denied, they have 10 days from the instance of denial to receive either the first dose of a two-dose series vaccine, or the singular dose option. 

By September 10, 2021 however, each staff member who does not qualify for an exemption to the mandate is required to have at least one dose of a CoVid-19 vaccine. Their second dose must be administered by October 15, 2021 to be compliant with the University policy. If an individual resides in a country abroad, they must have at least one dose of a vaccine from their country of origin by the above date, however they do not have to have received exclusively Pfizer, Moderna, or Janssen and Janssen (the vaccine produced by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson and Johnson). 

Failure to comply with, or violations to the mandate, may result in applicable disciplinary actions with the heaviest of the consequences being dismissal from employment within the University. 

German Studies Associate Professor Sebastian Wogenstein believes that the mandate is a great addition this semester. 

“I think it’s important for people to be vaccinated, and I think the mandate is a good thing. I think by now most of the concerns are ill-advised,” said Wogenstein. 

Not only did Professor Wogenstein state that it was important for staff to be vaccinated, but students as well. As a father of two young children, it becomes a concern being surrounded by so many individuals within a classroom setting each day, since his children cannot yet be vaccinated. 

All in all, both UConn staff as well as students are working together to achieve the goal of normalcy some time in the future where masks and concerns for health are not a problem on all campuses.