August 2, 2021: Update on Vaccine Requirements
Dear St. Thomas students, faculty and staff,
We extend gratitude to everyone who got their COVID-19 vaccines and participated in our incentive program last month. The program and outreach drove more than 1,300 vaccinations across our community, and we’re excited to award our grand prizes today.
The overall situation, however, is much different than a month ago with the highly contagious delta variant spreading rapidly. Infection rates in Minnesota are once again headed in the wrong direction. Given these factors, St. Thomas is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester, with opportunities to request exemptions. Per recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, the university will still require unvaccinated individuals to wear face coverings indoors and is now encouraging vaccinated community members to wear face coverings indoors as well.
These decisions are driven by our desire to provide a safe, high-quality and uninterrupted experience for our students this fall. When we announced our incentive program in June, we stated the university would not rule out a future vaccine requirement. Since then, our incentive program and outreach has resulted in an overall campus vaccination rate of 78%; this includes 89% of employees and 75% of students, and these numbers are climbing daily.
While these numbers are encouraging, we still have a number of people whose vaccination status remains unknown. Additionally, evolving CDC guidance could impact our fall operations, even with our current vaccination rate. We must do our part to try to curb the spread of the variant and help ensure our community members feel safe when they return to campus for in-person learning and working this semester.
All community members can find information on how to report their vaccination status with the university at the link below. If you intend to request an exemption, please visit the link for additional instructions and for protocols you will need to follow this semester.
Thank you for your attention,
The University Action and Response Team