University of Colorado Boulder no longer allows students, faculty, or staff to opt-out of receiving the coronavirus vaccine for anything other than medical and religious waivers.
The policy change is linked to a Sept. 9 executive order by President Joe Biden requiring all federal employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, including workplaces like CU Boulder that receive federal funding. The implementing decree does not allow for personal exemptions.
While the executive order applies to all faculty and staff, including graduate students by appointment and student staff, campus leaders have decided to extend the policy change to all students, citing a large number of student staff and ensuring “a fair approach to all waivers on the campus,” the campus announcement said.
Previously, students, faculty, and staff could submit medical, religious, or personal waivers to meet the on-campus COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
The change affects 402 employees and 2,055 students who have filed personal waivers, spokesman Josh Lindenstein said.
The decision comes down to a few issues, Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke said. CU Boulder has a large population of student employees — more than 8,000 — which would make it difficult to keep track of who did and didn’t have the vaccine as students cycle through campus lanes. It would also be difficult to have different vaccination requirement for different campus groups.
“It doesn’t allow us to fairly manage our requirements for all of our populations across campus,” O’Rourke said. “It makes more sense to create consistent and universal requirements for all our populations.”
The deadline for students, faculty, and staff who have submitted personal waivers to submit new waivers or a vaccination certificate is January 1, a few days before the federal January 4 deadline.
The campus announcement notes that religious exemptions “may be applied for based on moral or ethical beliefs about what is right or wrong, which are honestly held to the strength of traditional religious values.” O’Rourke added that the exemption does not require membership of any religion.
Employees who fail to meet the requirement may not be eligible for pay increases or may be placed on unpaid leave beginning Jan. 1, the campus announcement says. Students who do not comply with the rules will receive a late fee and a block when registering for classes.
CU Boulder offers free Pfizer vaccines to students, faculty and staff by appointment, which can be scheduled through the MyCUHealth portal.