University of Michigan employees and students who do not comply with the university’s COVID-19 vaccination policy will be subject to a number of administrative interventions and disciplinary actions, university officials announced this week.
The measures for faculty and staff, which will take effect after the Aug. 30 deadline for submitting vaccination information, include unpaid disciplinary layoffs, ineligibility for future merit increases and possible dismissal for those who continually neglect to follow the policy.
Employees on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses are subject to the disciplinary actions. Michigan Medicine is following a separate process that includes measures up to and including dismissal.
“We continue to face a serious threat to our mission and the safety and health of our community,” said Rich Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources. “It is absolutely essential that everyone does their part to ensure we minimize the spread of COVID-19 and have a successful academic year.”
According to the U-M COVID-19 vaccination policy announced last month, students, faculty and staff on all three campuses are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and must submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall term. Individuals can apply for medical or religious exemptions to the requirement and, if approved, must complete mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.
About 91 percent of students, 87 percent of faculty and 72 percent of staff on the Ann Arbor campus have self-reported and been verified as being fully vaccinated as of Aug. 24.
On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted full approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older. University officials said they hoped this action motivates unvaccinated individuals in the U-M community who were hesitant about the vaccine to now get vaccinated.
Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases resulting from the more infectious delta variant, the university has required everyone — regardless of vaccination status — to wear face coverings indoors. The policy will be re-evaluated soon after the start of the fall term.
Faculty and staff policy enforcement
Employees on the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses who do not comply with the university’s vaccination policy and have not been granted an exemption or temporary postponement received an email the week of Aug. 16 reminding them of the deadline.
Beginning Aug. 30, the non-complaint employees will be subject to disciplinary action, which will be carried out using a two-step process at the unit level. The first step will focus on further education about the policy and the vaccine, and will include a verbal warning.
If after seven days the employee has not initiated the process to become vaccinated, the second step includes a written warning, ineligibility for next year’s merit increase and possible additional disciplinary actions. This applies to both faculty and staff.
Additionally, staff members will be put on a two-day unpaid disciplinary layoff and face restricted access to funds for professional development and university travel. Faculty will have access to professional development and discretionary funds restricted and may have sabbaticals delayed or become ineligible for university honorific recognition.
All employees not in compliance will be required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated. Employees who have initiated an exemption or temporary postponement request, or who are awaiting verification of vaccine status, will be considered in compliance while their information is under review, but may be subject to weekly testing.
All employees, regardless of vaccination status, must follow the U-M face-covering policy and perform daily symptom checks using the ResponsiBLUE app.
Unvaccinated employees who do not comply with face-covering rules, weekly testing and daily symptom checking could be subject to further discipline, including discharge. Bargained-for employees should refer to their collective bargaining agreements.
Accountability measures for students
Students who are not fully vaccinated by Aug. 30 will be required to get tested weekly for COVID-19 until they are fully vaccinated.
Students who have not reported their vaccination or requested an exemption or temporary postponement by Aug. 30 will have an administrative hold placed on their accounts and could be subject to other accountability measures. Students whose exemption or postponement was rejected and who have not gotten vaccinated also will be subject to an administrative hold.
Those with a pending exemption or postponement request, or who are awaiting verification of vaccine status, will not have a hold placed on their account.
The hold prevents a non-compliant student from adding or dropping classes, registering for the winter term and accessing transcripts. The measure also will apply to unvaccinated students who comply with weekly testing requirements.
In a message to students this week, Martino Harmon, vice president for student life, said the university will follow up directly with students who do not share vaccination information with the university by the deadline and with students who are not testing weekly as required.
“But before this happens, we encourage you to hold yourself accountable as a Michigan Wolverine,” Harmon said. “Staying compliant with university policies is simple: Get vaccinated or, if you have an approved exemption or temporary postponement, get tested weekly at a campus testing site.”