Fall semester COVID-19 vaccination requirement for faculty and staff
Dear Members of the Skidmore Community,
As the College communicated in late May, Skidmore is requiring that all students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before arriving on campus for the fall semester. After thorough consideration, the College has decided to require that faculty and staff be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as well, unless granted a medical or religious exemption.
This policy applies to all faculty and staff (union and non-union), independent contractors and temporary employees at the College.
After careful deliberation, Skidmore’s COVID-19 Logistics Working Group last week recommended a mandatory vaccination policy for all employees to fulfill the College’s commitment to returning to fully in-person instruction this fall. This policy recommendation was then presented at a summer (July 19) meeting of the Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC), which includes staff, faculty and student representatives. Furthermore, the Chair of CAFR (the Committee on Academic Freedom and Rights) was also present at this meeting. This representative committee recommended the policy by unanimous vote.
This decision is based on extensive scientific evidence and is in step with Centers for Disease Control and New York State Department of Health guidance that approved vaccines are the most safe and effective tool in reducing the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. Concerns over the spread of more transmissible and dangerous new variants also weighed into this decision, and we believe that a vaccine requirement for all faculty and staff, in addition to students, is the best course of action in our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of our entire community. This requirement will also be beneficial in allowing us to ease remaining restrictions and resume the nearly normal residential learning experience that we so look forward to in the fall.
While Skidmore College greatly values personal choice, this is a rare circumstance in which we must give priority to what is in the best interest of the entire Skidmore community. There are many vaccines that are routinely required, to the immense health benefit of the community. Having nearly all faculty, staff, and students in our Skidmore community vaccinated will not only protect those who are vaccinated, but also those who are unable to get vaccinated for an approved reason, as well as family and close contacts who may be at risk or unable to take the vaccine.
More information regarding our visitors policy will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
Employees are encouraged to review the benefits of vaccination and Centers for Disease Control and NYS Department of Health information regarding the safety of available COVID-19 vaccines. The College also provides vaccination resources for all campus community members; please contact your supervisor or Human Resources for more information.
Policy and next steps
In order to prevent or significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at Skidmore College and protect all members of the College community from infection, all new and current faculty and staff (union and non-union) will be required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 3, 2021, unless exempted from this requirement as a reasonable accommodation of a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief. Human Resources will follow up with employees during the week of July 26 to provide additional information, including instructions for submitting proof of vaccination, and links to required forms.
By Aug. 13, employees must:
- Provide proof of full vaccination; OR
- Provide proof of first shot and appointment for second shot; OR
- Apply for a medical or religious exemption to Human Resources; OR
- For staff: Apply for an unpaid leave of absence until vaccinated, and in any event no later than Jan. 3, 2022. For faculty: Apply for an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with Faculty Handbook provisions (Part I, IX, C)
Evidence of full vaccination, unless granted an exemption or leave of absence, must be submitted by Sept. 3, 2021.
Employees in need of an exemption from this policy due to a medical reason, or because of a sincerely held religious belief, should contact Human Resources. When requested, the College will provide an exemption/reasonable accommodation for any known medical condition or disability, or sincerely held religious belief or practice, of a qualified individual which prevents an employee from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, provided the requested accommodation is reasonable and does not create an undue hardship for the College or pose a direct threat to the health and/or safety of others in the workplace, educational environment and/or to the requesting employee.
Failure to meet the requirement
For staff members who have not received all doses by Sept. 3, 2021, and do not request an accommodation or leave of absence, the following will be implemented:
- Staff may voluntarily resign.
- In accordance with the College’s Unpaid Leave policy, staff may apply for an unpaid leave of absence until vaccinated, or until Jan. 3, 2022, whichever is sooner. Failure to return to work by the end of an approved leave of absence will be considered job abandonment and the College will terminate the employee.
- Otherwise, the College will issue an involuntary termination notice.
Union staff: Those who choose not to comply with the College’s vaccination requirement will be subject to further action in accordance with the contract and other agreements reached with the applicable union.
For faculty who have not received all doses by Sept. 3, 2021:
- Faculty may apply for an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with Faculty Handbook provisions (Part I, IX, C); OR
- The College will initiate disciplinary action, up to and including suspension and/or dismissal, in accordance with Faculty Handbook procedures (Part I, XI). Violation of College policy is considered professional misconduct.
As we prepare for a full return to work and on-campus learning in the coming weeks, it is our hope that this decision will help everyone in our community feel safer and more at ease. We look forward to seeing you in the fall.
Marc C. Conner
Michael T. Orr
Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Sarah Delaney Vero
Interim Human Resources Director and Assistant Director of Employment & Workforce Diversity