Salisbury University President Charles Wight said a target date of July 6 has been set for all campus community members to receive at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during his weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday.
The University System of Maryland announced Friday all its member schools, including Salisbury University, will be required to enforce COVID-19 vaccination mandates for all students and employees during the fall semester.
University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay Perman said the high risk of COVID-19 transmission on college campuses and the desire for a return to normalcy were the root causes of the decision to implement a vaccination mandate.
“We didn’t undertake this mandate lightly,” Perman said. “With widespread vaccination and continued public health interventions as needed, we have every right to expect that we’ll have a pretty normal semester going forward.
“That’s what we all want.”
Perman also praised the work of SU in bringing back a high density of students to campus despite the challenges of the pandemic.
“I know the reason we have gotten through this crisis … is because of the solidarity [and] the hard work of our students, our faculty, our staff [and] our leaders,” Perman said. “We faced a year of challenges we’ve never seen before, and we rose to meet them.”
Religious or medical qualifications for exemption from the vaccination mandate will be accommodated, Wight said.
Perman said each university will have discretion over actions regarding non-compliance with the requirement should a campus member refuse the vaccine.
The Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Higher Education Commission have partnered to offer “University Days” at the state’s mass vaccination clinics to provide priority registration for Maryland university students, faculty and staff.
Seven clinics will be offering priority registration to university members, including the Wicomico County Youth & Civic Center. Pre-registration for University Days at the mass vaccination sites may be completed here.
Those who miss the University Days, which conclude May 9, may still receive doses of the vaccine at another time or site. Wight said SU will also be hosting more on-campus vaccination clinics over the summer.
Wight added that face masking and social distancing protocols will still likely continue in the fall.
SU students who have been vaccinated and filled out the university’s COVID-19 consent form will still be required to receive a coronavirus test once every 30 days in the fall to maintain access to campus facilities, per a recent Stay Informed email.
Unvaccinated campus members, as well as those who have not completed the consent form, will be required to be tested once every two weeks in the fall, according to the email.
SU has identified 6 positive cases of COVID-19 out of 4,830 tests administered over the past week, according to the university’s coronavirus dashboard. The campus still maintains a positivity rate below 1%.
For more information on SU’s testing protocols or to view the latest university COVID-19 test results, visit https://www.salisbury.edu/coronavirus/testing-info.aspx.
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Brad Boardman.