Message to the Campus Community: Employee Vaccine Mandate

August 12, 2021 BK LI

We are now entering our third academic year of the public health crisis, arguably one of the most difficult and unsettling periods in our College’s history. While we continue to face many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, our steadfast goal to provide a healthy and safe environment for the entire SJC community remains paramount. First and foremost, I want to thank you for your continued hard work, dedication and ongoing support of our efforts to uphold the SJC mission. This sentiment is shared by not only myself and members of the administration, but also by our own Board of Trustees.

As you are aware, the College recently implemented a vaccine mandate for all students returning to in-person learning beginning fall 2021. While this was not an easy decision for us to make, knowing that the recent spread of the Delta variant continues to present a clear and dangerous risk to the SJC community, we felt it was the only way we could safely bring our students back to campus this fall.

That said, with the continued increase in COVID infection and hospitalization rates across the country and in our own region, we are now faced with the reality that it is also necessary to mandate vaccination for all SJC faculty and staff. All faculty and staff not already vaccinated will need to begin the vaccination process no later than Friday, September 3, 2021. Just like our existing policy for students, exemptions may be considered for those with sincerely held religious beliefs and/or documented medical concerns. While I understand this news may be received with mixed emotion from our employees, please know that we are not alone in making this decision, and we strongly feel that we have a moral and ethical obligation to protect the greater College community as a whole.

Moreover, due to the increased risk for transmission of the virus in indoor spaces, the College will be reinstating its full mask mandate for all — including students, faculty, staff and visitors — while in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This new policy will be effective immediately. We believe this added measure is not only necessary to further protect our community members, but that it will also give us the best chance for a safe and successful start to the new academic year. Please note that we will continue to monitor the status of the virus and re-evaluate this policy on a regular basis. Should the threat of the virus significantly decline, we may relax and/or lift this mandate in the months ahead.

Again, I would like to personally thank you for all you have done and continue to do for St. Joseph’s College, especially during these very stressful times. Additional information about policies and deadlines for uploading your proof of vaccination through the CastleBranch system, including the process to request possible exemptions and accommodations should they be necessary, will be coming in the next few days. If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact the Office of Human Resources.