It has been just over one month since Michigan State University announced it would be requiring its students, staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated or have received at least one dose of the vaccine by Aug. 31.
Now that the fall semester has begun, MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. announced in an email sent Sept. 3, the university received nearly 60,000 responses to the COVID-19 vaccine verification form.
Of the respondents, 88% of students, faculty and staff indicated they are fully vaccinated, and 7% indicated they received the first of two doses of the vaccine.
MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen said the university is currently compiling the data for the number of students, staff and faculty who requested vaccine exemptions.
“We certainly do have some folks who are seeking an exemption,” Olsen said. “For students, again, those exemptions were for medical or religious reasons, or if a student had only online classes, and we had some students submitting exemptions for that. I just don’t have the total number for that yet.”
As for faculty and staff who have not already submitted the vaccine verification form, or submitted a form and indicated they weren't getting vaccinated and did not receive an exemption, Olsen said they will receive a reminder to complete their obligation under the university’s vaccination directive.
“If they still continue to fail to comply with that directive, they will be referred to their appropriate entities for discipline,” Olsen said. “Which can include up to termination for employees, that’s faculty and staff, or expulsion for students.”
Students who fail to comply will be referred to the Student Conduct System in the Dean of Students Office, and faculty and staff will be referred to the MSU Human Resources or Academic Human Resources, according to Olsen.
If anyone believes someone is falsifying information, Olsen said they can submit a complaint through the misconduct hotline. Those complaints will be followed up.
“We have a system, through MSU, we can check to verify vaccination, and certainly we can ask for a copy of the vaccination records,” Olsen said. “We reserve the right to ask for further documentation of the vaccination status, but we also have internal systems that we can check to verify vaccination.”
Stanley added the university has identified cases on campus through the Early Detection Program and other means.
Students who are in a class or multiple classes with someone who tests positive for COVID will receive an email from the MSU Triage Line, shared by their professor, informing them of the positive case.
“Any time a case is reported to us ... that kicks in our contact tracing efforts through the MSU COVID-19 Triage Line,” Olsen said. “If we’re able to identify a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for COVID-19, we work with that person who has tested positive to identify any close contacts, and notify them of the proper procedures or measures they can take to best protect themselves during this period of time, as well as others around them.”
Olsen said students in close contact with the positive case who are vaccinated should monitor their symptoms for 14 days following the exposure, while unvaccinated students need to quarantine for 14 days.
If they live on campus, Olsen said the university has designated quarantine housing for students. He added the CDC recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated students get tested three to five days following their exposure.
If someone tests positive in an in-person class, students will receive a positive exposure email from the Office of the Registrar. If they did not have close contact, vaccinated and unvaccinated students are still required to attend the in-person class.
Being in close contact is defined as the student who tests positive identifying who was near or within six feet of them in class. If the student cannot recall who was in close contact, the entire class will still receive the possible exposure email.
"If for some reason the vaccinated or unvaccinated individual becomes symptomatic during that period of time and ends up testing positive for COVID-19, regardless of whether or not they’re vaccinated, they’ll need to isolate for the designated time by CDC guidelines, as well as state and local health department guidelines.”
Olsen said the university plans to update its COVID-19 dashboard with new information this week, including the vaccination rate for the campus community, the number of tests administered through the Early Detection Program, the percent positivity rate for those testing and the total number of positive cases that have been identified through the Early Detection Program.
Olsen said housing and quarantine isolation numbers on campus will be updated daily.
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