As we make final preparations for fully reopening George Mason University, I am writing to share that we have new and urgent work at hand to ensure a safe return next month. Our community has done an admirable job at keeping one step ahead of COVID-19, preventing even a single known case of classroom transmission and keeping overall COVID cases to a minimum.
But COVID-19 is on the march with the spread of the far more contagious Delta variant, which the World Health Organization calls the “fastest and fittest” version of COVID yet. Children and adults under 50 are 2.5 times more likely to contract the Delta variant, according to Yale Medicine.
As CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has said, “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” In just one week, new cases increased 70 percent in the United States. Hospitalizations rose 36 percent, and deaths rose 26 percent – with 97 percent of all new hospitalizations occurring among the unvaccinated.
For the sake of all who are unable to receive vaccination, the single most effective way to avoid the virus and stop its spread is for the rest of us to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Therefore, Mason is joining the growing community of universities that require all students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated, and to share verification of their vaccination status, in order to work, study, and live on campus. We will, of course, approve appropriate exemptions for medical and religious reasons. Following university policies and procedures, disciplinary action will be pursued against those faculty and staff who fail to receive an exemption and do not disclose their status and receive the vaccine. This action could include unpaid leave or possible loss of employment.
Mason students, faculty, and staff are required to share vaccination status through Mason COVID Health Check and, if vaccinated, your documentation through the Health Service portal by August 1. Faculty and staff that are not yet fully vaccinated by August 1, must receive their first shot by August 15.
Students seeking a medical or religious exemption must do so by August 1. Employees seeking a medical or religious exemption must do so by August 15. For more information on how to satisfy Mason’s vaccine and documentation requirements students should visit here and employees should visit here.
Vaccines are available on the first floor of the Johnson Center on the Fairfax Campus. They are also widely available through community clinics and healthcare providers. Visit vaccines.gov to locate vaccination providers nationwide.
This requirement is consistent with Mason’s longstanding history of protecting our community through requiring students to be immunized against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles (rubeola), German measles (rubella), mumps, Hepatitis B, and meningitis. It is extended to faculty and staff for COVID-19 because the extraordinary nature of the pandemic demands it.
I recognize that a mandate is an extraordinary step to take, and one not taken without serious consideration of the public health situation and the safety of our community. This week I received the unanimous support of my Executive Council to move forward with the universal vaccine requirement, and I have taken this step for the sake of the health and safety of every Mason Patriot.
Thank you in advance for your continued commitment to maintaining your own health and that of your fellow Mason Patriots. We will see you on campus very shortly.