GV wrestles with issuing COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Haileigh Huber

Universities are considering requiring a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students to attend the upcoming year. While Grand Valley State University has not yet announced if they will be making vaccinations a mandate, they will continue to evaluate the idea and decide what will be best for the GVSU Community.

GVSU Chief Financial Officer Greg Sanial has been heading the Universities Virus Action Team and is carefully watching COVID-19 cases in this area and communicating with Kent county and the Ottawa county health departments.

GVL / Katherine Vasile

“We are not 100% confident that we would even get to a vaccine mandate,” said Sanial.

In the fall of 2020, GVSU was working closely with the health departments regarding the living centers and how many people could be in different rooms, restrooms and dining areas. They were able to figure this out all because of their close relationship with the health departments and they will continue that relationship throughout this upcoming year. 

“We want our campus to be as safe as possible for that robust on-campus experience that we all want to get back to,” said Sanial.

GVSU wants to keep the student’s and faculty’s best interest at heart, but also wants to make sure that those who have controversial feelings about the vaccine are provided will the necessary information.

“There are exemptions that universities who have made the vaccine a mandate follow, like health and religion,” said Sanial.

GVSU has conducted two different pulse surveys with both students and faculty – the last one being in the October and November time frame – that helped them gather input and look at all their options.

Michigan is currently facing another surge of cases and hospitalizations, and many people are relying on the distribution of the vaccines.

GVL / Katherine Vasile

“As we look at some of the data we have with the faculty and staff over 50% have already reported that they’ve been fully vaccinated and almost two-thirds have received one shot,” said Sanial.

Even though other universities are announcing that students will be required to be vaccinated to attend school, GVSU does not feel pressure from other universities and is taking the time that they need to figure this all out. 

Testing, contact tracing, and vaccines are all things that GVSU has had available and the university will use them in the best ways. They will continue to encourage vaccinations and make them accessible on campus, and keep students and faculty updated. 

“We will provide information about the vaccines and continue to get reliable information from the CDC and the county health department,” Sanial said. “We will do everything we can to reach out to everyone if we decide that a mandate is best for the community.”