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At LIU and other colleges, COVID vaccination mandates cover employees, too

LIU Post in Brookville is pictured in October

LIU Post in Brookville is pictured in October 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

University vaccination mandates are increasingly covering employees along with students, as concerns grow about possible outbreaks of COVID-19 caused by the highly infectious delta variant.

LIU announced this week a vaccination mandate for the fall semester, and included faculty and staff as well as students.

While Touro College, with several campuses on Long Island, and Five Towns College in Dix Hills also include faculty in their mandates, other colleges and universities on Long Island have so far restricted mandates to students.

The mandates come as the White House ramps up efforts to persuade students from middle school on up to get vaccinated before most return to school. Already, hundreds of students and staff are in quarantine after a COVID outbreaks in K-12 schools in an Arkansas district where classes began a few days ago.

LIU Post will require vaccinations of everyone coming back to its Brookville campus next month to study, teach or work.

"In recent weeks and over the summer, we have been diligently following local, state and federal guidelines, including recommendations regarding vaccinations," the university said in a statement released this week, according to LIU director of communications Maureen H. Cronin. "Due to spread of the delta variant, and out of an abundance of caution and concern for our students, faculty and staff, we are requesting proof of vaccination prior to the start of classes."

John Lutz, the president of the C.W. Post Collegial Federation, representing full-time LIU Post faculty, said it supported the employee vaccine mandate.

"I would be very surprised if most staff and faculty were not already vaccinated," he said, adding that if COVID transmission rates remained high in the fall when classes begin, the union "will request and support a universal mask mandate regardless of vaccination status."

Student vaccine mandates are now in effect for most Long Island campuses, including Hofstra University, Adelphi University, Molloy College and St. Joseph’s College.

In New York City, student vaccine mandates are in place at St. John’s University and Fordham University, while New York University, Columbia University, Barnard College and Pace University require them for faculty and staff as well. So, too, do prominent institutions nationally, from Harvard, MIT and Yale, to Brown University, Boston University, the California University system and the University of Michigan.

Vaccine mandates for all students attending public universities, colleges and community colleges in the SUNY and CUNY systems could come as soon as the Food and Drug Administration gives full approval to any of the three vaccines currently offered under an emergency use authorization.

The Pfizer vaccine is first in line to get that approval, expected as early as next month. Now, only students living in dorms on campus are mandated to get vaccines. New York Institute of Technology said it would mandate vaccines upon full approval as well.

In a rapidly changing landscape, students looking for a school with no vaccine mandates will have to look far afield, as most schools in the state require them, including Cornell University, Ithaca College, Vassar College, Sarah Lawrence College, RIT and the University of Rochester. Skidmore College, Union College, Siena College, Bard College, and Syracuse, Colgate and Hamilton universities also will require them of faculty and staff.

At least eight states have barred some or all schools from requiring the vaccinations or proof of vaccinations, and at least three have banned the required use of masks in schools.

Florida’s governor issued an executive order threatening to withhold state funds to schools that enforce mask mandates, but some legal experts have questioned his legal authority to do so.

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