By SUSAN JONES
On Nov. 4, the Biden administration pushed back the date by which federal employees and employees of federal contractors need to be fully vaccinated to Jan. 4, but Pitt is sticking with its previously announced deadline of Dec. 6.
In a statement Nov. 9, the University said its deadline was determined by Pitt’s operational needs and campus calendars.
“While we will begin progressive discipline for faculty and staff who are not compliant with the interim policy by that date, we will use the month of December to help those who want to become compliant do so for the start of the spring term,” a University spokesperson said. “We will similarly work with such students during that period.”
Pitt has strongly urged everyone to get COVID-19 vaccinations since before the start of the fall semester, which resulted in more than 93 percent of Pitt students, faculty, and staff disclosing that they are vaccinated. The new requirement will affect approximately 2,250 students, 240 faculty and 700 staff who have not disclosed their vaccination status.
The latest report from Pitt’s COVID-19 Medical Response Office said there were 43 new student cases on the Oakland campus between Nov. 10 to 16, and 26 employees. On the regionals, there were 21 more student cases and no employees.
Mandatory testing for unvaccinated individuals remains in place over the Thanksgiving break. The O’Hara onsite testing center for asymptomatic individuals is open Monday and Tuesday next week. Those required to participate in mandatory testing must get tested as early in the week as possible, or before leaving campus.
Pitt and other research universities like it have millions of dollars in contracts with federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Science Foundation.
The federal requirement applies to all employees who work on or “in connection with” a federal contract, including in such functions as billing, legal review or human resources, according to Inside Higher Education. It also applies to other employees on a campus who are not working directly or indirectly on a federal contract unless the employer can “affirmatively determine” they will have no interaction with employees involved in a contract.
Several other public and private universities have announced they will comply with the mandate. Penn State has set a Dec. 8 deadline for all employees at the College Park campus and several of the regionals to be vaccinated or seek an exemption. It is not extending the order to students.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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