With more people interacting on U-M campuses in Fall 2021, a vaccine mandate for in-person activities is one of the surest ways to protect all people from COVID-19, including the residents of communities surrounding U-M campuses. Today, the university announced that vaccines will be required for all faculty, staff, and students. The ramifications of such a policy will require robust collaboration and negotiation between all affected parties. GEO looks forward to negotiating the implementation of a vaccine mandate for Fall 2021 with U-M administrators and other campus unions.
This mandate serves as a clear step toward protecting the vast majority of our members, U-M, and surrounding communities. We want to note that immunocompromised people and people who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons are able to file for disability accommodations for remote work—that has not changed. Information on the process for receiving disability accommodations can be found here on our website.
Additionally, today’s announcement does not detail forms of support for a number of groups, who have already articulated specific concerns. In our conversations with university stakeholders, we intend to continue raising concerns from these groups (e.g., international students, parents and caregivers) to build on summer progress we’ve made with Academic Human Resources. Many of our international members are navigating challenges in obtaining visas and traveling to the United States during the current global surge of the Delta variant (potentially without having been vaccinated); now, they must also worry about timelines toward full vaccination before teaching and taking classes, potentially in person. We hope to ensure that International GSIs have adequate time to safely receive emergency-approved vaccines and return to campus before teaching in person. Likewise, GEO seeks to guarantee accommodations for those who need to get vaccinated upon arrival on campus or cannot return to the United States at all. Many parents and caregivers are concerned that, in the process of teaching in-person, they could spread the virus to their children under the age of 12 or immunocompromised individuals in their households, despite being vaccinated themselves.
We will continue to raise these and other concerns from our membership related to the implementation of this mandate, and we look forward to negotiating with the University to ensure a greater degree of safety for all people this fall.