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Mandatory Vaccines, Sanctioning, and University Implementation.

Man with shirt pulled over his nose, spraying disinfectant, with the words
Hello everyone!
 
Welcome to the first blog, of the ASCA Chats for the Fall 2021 Semester! This is not Christine Simone… sorry to disappoint… but allow me to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Alexandra E. Hughes, and I am the Education Specialist for ASCA! I started full-time with ASCA this summer- so it's nice to meet you!
 
That being said, I did it! I hosted the first ASCA Chat of the Fall Semester, titled: Mandatory Vaccines, Sanctioning, and University Implementation. Essentially, if you are new to ASCA or new to the Chats- Christine Simone, our Deputy Director—started the “Chats” around the beginning of COVID-19, which was March of 2020—when we didn't understand what virtual life was nor what it meant for ourselves, careers or future. The chats were a success, and so we decided to bring them back. Because as the world keeps changing- the demands of our jobs keep changing. For the Fall 2021 semester, a lot of institutions were "back" in-person full-time. Part of that "back" has been where many institutions are requiring vaccines (either both or at least the first dosage) to be enrolled. 
 
Now. This is not a blog post about personal views on whether or not the Vaccine should or should not be mandated.What this post is about- is that the University Leadership had decided that Vaccines are mandated and has tasked our offices with the implementation of this mandate.
 
So, let's get started with some of the things that were talked about in the Chat, and hopefully, this helps to give you some ideas.
 
Practical Ways to Implement the Mandatory Vaccine Requirements?
            
Some schools have partnered with their student health service departments on campus- which serves as the primary place for students to deal with all COVID-19 related things (which makes sense….it is a health concern). Student Health Services is then sending the first notice to students to let them know that the office has not received their vaccination information and that if the student does not submit the paperwork—they will have a “student health services hold”. Then, if the student still has not submitted their paperwork, their names will be forwarded to the student conduct office. I think this is where the consensus around the process lies:
 
  1. The student conduct office will send a letter through a trackable system, to the student, letting them know that they have not met the university requirements of showing proof of vaccination. (Theoretically, the student would upload it)
  2. After no response/ upload to the university system, a second letter goes out.
  3. A possible 3rd, 4th, or 5th, letter may go out to the student (even weekly notifications) at the discretion of the office.
  4. After a determined about of notifications—offices are either placing a hold, assigning learning modules and conduct records, or even seeking separation from the institution.
True enforcement of this mandate is just now beginning because the drop/ add date is finally here. Some students never registered/ are planning on dropping/ etc.- and so as a result the students weeded themselves out of the process (and less work for us as student conduct professionals). Schools stated that they will be getting lists of students who are not doing weekly COVID-19 testing… and if they aren't doing that, then that also is considered non-compliance within their respective codes of student conduct. The holds on the student accounts are harder- maybe a more passive approach because the holds would be for registration for the Spring 2022 semester (which doesn't help in the interim).
 
When asked if there were any groups of students that would not be required to be vaccinated to be enrolled, it would be those students that have submitted requests per medical or religious accommodations—and are of course assessed by the respective person at that institution. There was a school that said they had an option for “personal objection” and those students had to follow the same weekly testing and protocol for those students that fit into the medical or religious exemptions. 
 
Something to think about is for residential campuses- how to handle a vaccinated student living with an unvaccinated student…. that came up for an institution. - Honestly, that sounds like a good topic to discuss on the podcast- it's a whole rabbit hole of a discussion (including HIPPA laws, discrimination, etc. )
 
Mask Compliance
 
This one wasn't discussed as much, as masks aren't necessarily new for our society as a whole. We have seen mask mandates be enacted and lifted multiple times. Mostly depending upon state ordinances. At this point, masks have become somewhat standard in our lives- I mean, I never would've thought that I'd have a personal “mask budget” in my life- and judge the quality of masks… but that's another story for another time. Most times, if there is a “mask problem” on campus it isn't that the student isn't following the mask protocol…it's that they have become disruptive or disrespectful in the encounter after the ask to wear the mask—that is the violation of the university code of student conduct. 
 
 
A Positive Outlook
 
Let's change the narrative- one of our amazing colleagues brought up the fact that our offices tend to focus on those students that have not followed the rules (understandable as to why); however, we have to remember that is typically the minority of the students. For example, their school had about 95% of their population vaccinated. I mean we are a pretty cryptic field, but focusing on the POSITIVE—is amazing.
 
Using Peer Pressure and Classroom Management
 
One of the tools that we can give professors and students, is the ability to understand classroom management and the (positive?) impact of peer pressure. Some examples include:
  1. Professors beginning class by saying "Okay everyone, make sure you have your masks on, there are some up here at the front if you don't have one with you, and once everyone has one—we will get started”
  2. If there is a student in a classroom that does not have their mask up—a lot of times, other students will turn to the one student and say, “seriously, come on so we can start”.
 
Random Things
  1. Incentivizing students to get their Vaccines updated by a certain date- dining dollars, tuition assistance, apple products, etc. 
  2. Fake Vaccination Cards- not something that we have seen a lot currently; however, if they do start happening- using fraud as the charge… some schools are looking at this as if someone lied about a transcript or another official document to obtain access to enroll (some cases an expellable offense).
 
In conclusion—like everything else, people are still getting creative with this. A lot of it depends upon where you are located and the population of students you are dealing with.
 
Alright- until the next blog post! This is fun!!
 
Follow me on social: @dr_ehughes on all of the things. 
 

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