At Pennsylvania State University, the faculty Senate passed a resolution expressing “no confidence” in the school’s plan to bring students back without requiring them to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
At Mississippi’s public universities, the pleas of hundreds of professors to demand vaccinations have been drowned out by a political conservative clamor against mandates.
And at Clemson University, the faculty plans to protest against mandatory masks on Wednesday, the first day of class.
As thousands of students return to campuses across the United States for the fall, more than 500 universities have said they will need a coronavirus vaccination this year.
But at dozens of universities with less stringent health requirements, from Ohio to Iowa to North Carolina, professors are using protests, petitions and even firing to push through their demands for stricter methods of coronavirus prevention. Much of the protest is coming in states where politicians, virtually all Republicans, are vehemently opposed to vaccine or mask requirements, leaving universities with few resources to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vast majority of counties in the United States experience either “substantial” or “high” transmission rates that require wearing masks indoors, even among vaccinated people.
Orientation at Clemson University sparked the protest of the faculty. The university asked students to protect themselves from the Delta variant by wearing masks, but few students did so on a call for freshmen last week, according to a photo of the event that circulated online.
“When I saw hundreds of students crammed together and you can’t find a mask, I thought, ‘We’re in trouble,'” said Kim Paul, a biologist at Clemson, a public land grant university in South Carolina with about 20,000 students.
“We had a mask mandate in the spring semester,” said Dr. Paul. “I would like to see that again. That’s what we have to do.”
Clemson spokesman Joe Galbraith said after seeing unmasked students at the latest freshman call on Friday, the university put masks on every seat on Monday at a similar gathering of transfer students. “Participation was very different,” noted Mr. Galbraith on.
South Carolina bans both vaccine and mask mandates. “I think the university needs to show real leadership and stand back against the governor and say, ‘No, we’re a higher education institution,'” said Dr. Paul. “We have to follow the science.”
In Mississippi, hundreds of faculty members signed a petition demanding that the university system requires vaccination.
Understand the State of Vaccine and Mask Mandates in the US
- Mask Rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in July that all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas with outbreaks, a reversal of the guidance it offered in May. Find out where CDC guidelines apply and where states have their own masking policies. The battle over masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- Vaccine rules. . . and Buselessness. Private companies are increasingly mandating coronavirus vaccines for employees, taking different approaches. Such mandates are permitted by law and have been confirmed in court proceedings.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are demanding that students be vaccinated against Covid-19. Nearly all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- schools. On August 11, California announced that teachers and staff at both public and private schools should be vaccinated or tested regularly, the first state in the nation to do so. A survey published in August found that many U.S. parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who have not received their injections.
- Hospitals and Medical Centers. Many hospitals and major health systems require workers to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, citing the increasing caseload fueled by the Delta variant and persistently low vaccination coverage in their communities, even within their workforce.
- New York. On August 3, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced proof of vaccination would be required from employees and customers for indoor meals, gyms, performances and other indoor settings, becoming the first U.S. city to require vaccines for a wide variety of activities. . City hospital employees should also receive a vaccine or be tested weekly. Similar rules apply to employees in New York State.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon announced it would aim to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops “by mid-September.” President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees would be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
The petition has been started at Mississippi State University, where classes begin this week. Professors there are also urging the school to switch to distance learning until the pandemic is under control.
Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, has encouraged state residents to get vaccinated, but the state has refused to require vaccines on college campuses.
Mississippi state spokesman Sid Salter said about 52 percent of college students reported being vaccinated, a rate higher than the state’s population as a whole.
Penn State, with 40,000 students on its main campus at State College, Pennsylvania, decided not to require vaccination, even though Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, vetoed a bill that would have banned vaccine requirements. The school has imposed a mask mandate.
In a letter to the Penn State community last week, Eric J. Barron, the university’s president, blamed the decision on “political realities.”
“Government funding from our university requires a two-thirds vote of the Pennsylvania legislature, meaning our funding relies on strong bipartisan support,” wrote Dr. barron.
As if to reinforce those concerns, pro tempore Pennsylvania State Senate president Jake Corman, a Republican whose district includes State College, expressed concern Monday that state lawmakers could retaliate against the university if it mandated vaccines. Mr Corman said he would not support austerity.
A survey of Penn State students at State College found that 83 percent were fully vaccinated, a percentage the university called “promising.” However, the university said only 71 percent of students responded, a fact that raises questions about the results as unvaccinated students may be less likely to respond.