Education

Arizona State Public University cannot require COVID vaccination – nor can it require unvaccinated masks or tests

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Arizona State University Announced its COVID-19 mitigation plan The fall semester two weeks ago. Under this plan, students do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But those who choose not to submit a vaccination certificate to ASU will be required to participate in COVID testing twice a week, wear masks in both indoor and outdoor campus spaces, and undergo daily health checks. Students who are fully vaccinated will be able to bypass these additional requirements.

The political backlash was direct and fierce-Arizona State University was quickly forced to retreat by the governor.

“This is a bad policy and has no public health basis,” Republican Governor Doug Ducey wrote on Twitter on the day Arizona State University announced its policy.

He issued Executive order On the second day, it was stated that Arizona State public universities and community colleges cannot mandate COVID-19 vaccination or require people who have not been vaccinated to be tested for COVID-19 or to wear masks as a condition for attending classes or participating in learning.

The order states that public universities can only require COVID-19 testing if a “severe COVID-19 outbreak occurs in a shared student dormitory environment and poses a risk to students or faculty and staff”.

About 15 states There are various laws or administrative orders that restrict the ability of government entities (and in some cases private universities) to request proof of vaccination against COVID-19. But Arizona’s executive order went further, prohibiting mandatory testing and wearing masks for unvaccinated students.

The language used to incorporate Dusi’s executive order into the law is included in house with Senate The version of the Higher Education Budget Bill is generally expected to be approved by the Republican-controlled legislature later today.

“I think this policy is a shame,” said Elizabeth Jacobs, professor of epidemiology, biostatistics, and nutritional sciences at the University of Arizona. “It completely fetters our hands and prevents us from implementing a reasonable, common-sense public health strategy in universities.”

Although Jacobs said that she personally prefers vaccine requirements, she described Arizona State University’s proposed plan as “an excellent policy”, respecting the fact that some students are unwilling to be vaccinated, and “allowing everyone to choose How to protect the community.”

She said that before the ASU policy is introduced, she will not teach in person, requiring vaccination or a combination of testing and masking for people who have not been vaccinated.

“The thing I’m thinking about is standing in the classroom, people are not wearing masks; I don’t know if they are vaccinated,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of ventilation equipment in our classrooms. I heard that many faculty, staff and students are taking immunosuppressive drugs, and I am deeply concerned about entering workplaces that have no COVID mitigation measures.”

ASU says A statement It will comply with the executive order and “will communicate the changes to the agreement to the university community.” A spokesperson for ASU said that the university has not yet issued a new agreement.

The Arizona State University’s statement emphasized that the university’s compliance with the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that its June 14 guidelines provide students with the choice of whether to vaccinate, and announcing that “continue to provide students who have not yet been vaccinated Existing health protocols because they are at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus.”

With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, there has been increasing political disagreement between states regarding the tools universities can use to control the spread of the virus on campus.

Nearly 550 universities (mainly in states controlled by the Democratic Party) will require students or employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall. List maintained by Chronicle of Higher EducationAlthough some universities stated that they will wait until the COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration before implementing the requirements-currently, the three vaccines available in the United States have been approved through the FDA’s emergency use authorization process-many universities choose Continue to add COVID-19 to the list of vaccines they already provide to students.

On the other hand, many public universities in Republican-controlled states have found that their need for a COVID-19 vaccine is not only restricted by local political sentiment, but also by executive orders or laws that restrict them from doing so.

Although the details vary, laws or executive orders restricting the ability of certain government entities to request proof of COVID-19 vaccination (the so-called vaccine passport) have been implemented in many Republican-controlled states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah with Wyoming.

The laws of North Dakota specifically exempt higher education. Some but not all other laws and orders, including Oklahoma and Utah, clearly stipulate that they apply to public universities. The bans in Florida and Texas apply to public and private universities. (In Texas, they apply to private universities that receive any form of state funding.)

Indiana University amended its policy to require students to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19—instead of requiring them to submit evidence—after the state’s attorney general issued an advisory opinion, it was discovered that the university’s vaccine requirements violated states that banned vaccine passports. legal, According to Indiana public media reports. A group of students is Sue IU Exceed the requirements.

Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel of the American Board of Education, said: “Unfortunately, state policymakers are experimenting with various flavors, trying to see if their foundations will go down smoothly.” “As we are in some As the state has seen time and again, higher education, especially education, is generally not regarded as a friendly ally of policy makers, so opposing universities and their decisions may be a political expedient.”

McDonough said: “The problem is that some state policy makers actually force universities to reduce the safety of their universities, which is disappointing in extreme cases.” “There is no doubt that they confuse health and politics, but they leave it out. Two key elements: science and facts.”

McDonough pointed out that every state in the United States and the District of Columbia has vaccination requirements for students.

He said: “We are in this environment, unfortunately, how we will politicize how to deal with COVID.”

In Arizona, Approximately 50% of adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Compared with 57% nationwide.

Dusi emphasized that vaccination against COVID-19 is a personal choice.

“The vaccine is effective and we encourage Arizonans to take it. But it is a choice, and we need to keep it that way,” he said. Statement of June 15 Issued with his executive order. “Public education is a public right, and taxpayers are paying for it. We need to make our public universities available for students to return to study.”

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said that Dusey used his administrative power to “micro-manage” universities and community colleges, and used his emergency powers for harm. Not a benefit.

“ASU designed a well-thought-out, calibrated, and evidence-based mitigation plan for this fall,” Humble wrote in an article. Blog post“The policy recognizes that there are differences in risk between vaccinated and unvaccinated students, and appropriately manages these risks by requiring unvaccinated students to undergo regular testing and wear masks on campus.”

Tara Sklar, a professor of health law at the University of Arizona and director of the health law and policy program, said state government restrictions put higher education institutions in a difficult situation.

“I think the university is in a real dilemma in how to manage campus life,” she said. “There are only so many tools available to them, and in Arizona, they have actually been deprived of them all.”

Sklar noted that younger students are more likely to have asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.

“So it can spread to the local community in some way,” she said. “We are not even talking about campus activities, but the proliferation in cities and counties.”

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