Dixie Sun News »Masks, vaccines required at some Utah universities

Students participate in the COVID-19 vaccination clinic on campus. Photo by Brock Doman.

While the FDA has approved the Pzifer COVID-19 vaccine, the Utah government is still barred from requiring vaccines or masks on campuses.

In April 2021, the Utah legislature created a new law preventing the Utah government from requiring vaccines with emergency approval only in K-12 public schools and on higher education campuses. ; however, on August 23, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine. This now opens the door for universities to impose the Pzifer-BioNTech vaccine if administrators choose to do so.

The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines cannot be mandatory because they are not approved by the FDA at this time. Currently, the University of Utah, Utah State, Utah Valley University, and Weber State University have decided to require students to be vaccinated. This vaccination mandate for these universities only applies to students. Teachers and staff are not required to be vaccinated at this time.

Universities have made it known that there will be medical, religious and personal exemptions. While universities can still require vaccines in the state of Utah, masks are still prohibited from being mandatory.

In an email from Dixie State University President Richard “Biff” Williams, said the university does not require the COVID-19 vaccine to attend. This is due to the COVID-19 procedures that the university recently updated. The DSU administration still strongly encourages students to wear masks and get vaccinated as they will continue COVID-19 tracing to ensure the safety of students, staff and faculty.

“DSU is doing what it can within the limits of new state law to encourage students to get vaccinated and mask themselves in community settings,” said Susan Ertel, associate professor of English and president of the Faculty Senate. “Ultimately, it is a personal responsibility and a desire to help your community by taking action to protect those who cannot get vaccinated. “

Southern Utah University is holding Zoom meetings to help the university decide whether or not it needs vaccines for spring 2022.

“DSU’s COVID working group is examining what our next steps will be in light of the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and the upcoming full approval of the Moderna vaccine,” Ertel said. “Students will know well before the spring semester what their options are and what DSU’s plan is to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

DSU’s Booth Wellness Center has a chart on its website to track the number of current COVID-19 cases between students and faculty.

DSU will be holding a final vaccination clinic this semester on October 20. DSU will continue to offer free testing through SoftCell Laboratories throughout the semester.

You must obtain a test order from a healthcare provider, and walk-in patients are not welcome. To order a test through DSU’s Booth Wellness Center, submit a COVID-19 self-report form or call the Booth Wellness Center at 435-652-7755 to make an appointment. DSU also offers options for off-campus testing at Intermountain Hospital, TestUtah, and Family Health Care.

“I think the university has done a good job keeping our campus safe, but I don’t think it is doing everything it can to protect students, faculty and staff,” said Bryant Espinal, student freshman in General Studies from New York.

Vince Brown, director of the Institute of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “Science has given us a way to fight COVID-19 if enough people are vaccinated. “

The DSU’s COVID Working Group is meeting to discuss and make further changes to the COVID-19 guidelines for the coming semesters. If you are sick, stay home and complete a COVID-19 self-report form.

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