On Thursday, September 9, President Joe Biden introduced a new “action plan” in response to the COVID-19 surge. The plan—which addresses vaccination requirements and the booster shot campaign—mandates all private employers with 100+ employees to enforce vaccination or weekly testing upon their workers. Private employers must also provide their employees with paid time off to get vaccinated.
“The Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees—that together employ over 80 million workers—to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week,” the president said in a speech regarding the action plan. “The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated…The vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans.”
President Richardson speaks on the implications of this mandate for Westminster College, stating that the Board will address the matter once the Biden administration releases detailed vaccination rules.
“They hadn’t yet done the administrative work to [determine] to whom it would apply and how it would apply,” she says. “So, we’re following that closely and once we know that we’ll be able to make decisions.”
Biden announced that he will release the action plan in greater detail next month.
This mandate chronologically aligns with the resolution that Westminster faculty recently proposed, which asks the College leadership team to mandate the vaccine for students, faculty, and staff. President Richardson and the leadership team will discuss the proposal in the upcoming week.
The College has attained notable success in navigating the pandemic over the past year. Due to high vaccination rates among students, faculty, and staff, randomized testing is no longer necessary. President Richardson shares that faculty and staff may still produce tests by choice or necessity, though regular testing is not required.
“We made the decision as we went into this fall semester not to do the surveillance testing or the systematic random sampling testing of our [students,] faculty, and staff because we had strong [vaccination] compliance. There have been a few cases when faculty and staff have wanted to be tested, [and] when our Wellness Center has time, they’ve been able to do that. But we’re not doing the random testing that we did in the spring semester.”
The College may return to providing tests for faculty and staff should Biden’s vaccination/weekly testing mandate apply, though President Richardson says, “We’ll have to see what the mandates are, and what our availability is [to access] tests.”
Student Affairs and the Wellness Center held a COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Tuesday, September 21, from 9 A.M. to 11 A.M. They administered the Moderna vaccine.