Fall 2021 Vaccination Requirement for Faculty and Staff

June 16, 2021

This message was sent from Bryn Mawr College President Kim Cassidy on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

Dear Members of the Faculty and Staff,

Thanks to the hard work and commitment to community health on the part of students, faculty, and staff, Bryn Mawr offered a positive, in-person learning experience for our students for AY ‘21. As we move into this next phase of the pandemic, which continues to impact different members of the community in different ways, we will continue that commitment to the health and safety of the community as we welcome all students, faculty, and staff back to campus.

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we continue to rely on the medical expertise of infectious disease and public health doctors and on recommendations from the CDC, the Montgomery County Health Department, and the American College Health Association.  These experts affirm that the COVID vaccines authorized by the FDA for emergency use offer highly effective protection against illness and the more serious complications of COVID-19.  All guidance suggests that a fully vaccinated population is the best way to protect our full community, including and especially those who are most vulnerable.

There are numerous benefits of having a vaccinated Bryn Mawr College community. In particular, high vaccination rates will:

  • significantly reduce the risk of COVID infection and transmission, and as a result, will benefit those who may not be fully protected by vaccination due to underlying health conditions;
  • allow community members to gather and interact in person and to engage in the full range of curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities in support of our mission;
  • reduce anxiety about infection; and
  • help to protect the health of the neighborhoods and communities we live in and serve.

Therefore, starting August 1, all faculty and staff (as well as students as announced previously) will be required to be vaccinated unless they have been approved by the College for a medical or religious exemption. 

The College will make every effort to support employees in addressing concerns about vaccination and in obtaining a vaccine.  We encourage employees with concerns to:

  • consult with a trusted physician or other medical professional who can provide individual guidance as to the advisability of vaccination;
  • call the CDC free hotline 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or the Pennsylvania Department of Health free hotline (1-877-724-3258) with questions or concerns; and
  • attend a meeting with public health staff from the Montgomery County Department of Public Health on Monday, June 28, at either 12:30 p.m. (https://zoom.us/j/2054909289) or 2:30 p.m. (https://zoom.us/j/2054909289) via Zoom  or in Dalton 300.  

For those who have questions and want to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines, the following resources provide expert and useful information.

Comparing the COVID-19 Vaccines: How Are They Different? – Yale Medicine
COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts – Mayo Clinic
COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Specific Groups – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe? – Johns Hopkins Medicine
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines – World Health Organization
Vaccine Safety – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Wondering about COVID-19 Vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy? – Harvard Medical School

We will support employees in getting the vaccine.  Many pharmacies offer walk-in appointments; if you have difficulty finding a provider, please contact Marty Mastascusa in Human Resources (mmastasc@brynmawr.edu or x5266) or the College’s COVID-19 officer, Don Abramowitz (dabramow@brynmawr.edu or x5166).  Employees who choose a multi-dose vaccine are urged to begin their process early in the summer. Until August 1, when the unlimited COVID sick-time policy expires, employees can use COVID sick days to address any vaccine side effects.

Employees will be asked to provide a digital image of their vaccination card as proof of vaccination no later than August 1.  The College is determining a system to record verification that is secure and private; the data will be purged when no longer in use. These records will be kept separate from personnel files.

At the current time, we are accepting COVID-19 vaccinations that are authorized by the FDA, as well as those on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approved vaccination list.  Employees who have been vaccinated with a vaccine not on these lists will need to be re-vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine.

Faculty and staff may request an accommodation or an exemption to the vaccination requirement due to documented medical reasons or a sincerely held religious belief.  Requests for exemptions will be reviewed by a committee consisting of:  Marty Mastascusa (Director of Human Resources), Cheryl Horsey (Equal Opportunity Officer), and Beth Kotarski (Medical Services Director).  The committee will be mindful of fairness, care for individual and community health, and confidentiality.  Information about vaccine status will not be shared with supervisors unless there in an important safety reason to do so.

Expect to receive a separate e-mail communication in about a week providing instructions for uploading your vaccination card or requesting a medical or religious exemption.

As for our summer policies, I want to remind everyone that the health and safety guidelines for summer have been posted to the College’s website; please check there if you have any questions about the summer guidelines on masking, quarantining, etc.

COVID-19 has presented all of us with many challenges and some of us continue to struggle with the harm and grief that it has brought.  I once again offer my thanks for your work to limit COVID-19 infection over the past 15 months through your collective commitment to community health and support for one another. It is that commitment, and your continued care for everyone in our community, that will allow us to navigate the changes ahead.

Sincerely,

Kim Cassidy

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