GV looks to the future as vaccine mandate deadline passes


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Lauren Formosa, Staff Writer

Students, faculty and staff attending or employed at Grand Valley State University are now required to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, hold a postponement or exemption in order to be in compliance with the university’s vaccine mandate. As of Oct. 15, the university will begin contacting those who are not in compliance.

As of Thursday, Oct. 14, 82% of all faculty and staff as well as 78% of students have been reported on their daily self-assessment that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In total, about 93% of the campus community is in compliance with the vaccine mandate.

Some students, staff, and faculty have been granted exemptions or postponements from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Of the roughly 10% of the GVSU community who were reported exempt, according to the GVSU Virus Action Team, 90% of recipients received a religious exemption.  

According to the Virus Action Team’s most recent email, outreach to the remaining 8% of students, staff and faculty who are not in compliance with the vaccine mandate ended on Friday, October 15. Following that deadline, students and employees will be contacted by the Registrar’s Office and Human Resources respectively, however, it is the Virus Action Team’s goal to not “disrupt learning or employment during fall semester.” 

Data on the GVSU COVID-19 Data Dashboard, which is regularly updated by the Virus Action Team, shows that there are currently 110 active COVID-19 cases in the campus community. This number factors in cases reported by faculty staff, on-campus students, and off-campus students in Ottawa, Kent, and other surrounding counties. 

The Virus Action Team continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in and around GVSU’s campus. Rapid testing will still be offered on campus and students, staff, and faculty are expected to complete their daily self-assessments to help with contact tracing.GVSU also has two more scheduled COVID-19 vaccine clinic dates on Allendale campus: Wednesday, Oct. 20, and Thursday, Oct. 21.    

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community are our top concerns,” said Dottie Barnes Associate Director of news with University Communications. “The COVID-19 vaccine is the single most effective tool in slowing, even stopping, the spread of the virus. It reduces disease severity, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Students around GVSU’s campus are already starting to feel the effects of being on a majority-vaccinated campus. Some have expressed feeling safer attending in-person classes and events now that the deadline for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine has passed and the majority of campus is fully vaccinated.

“I got vaccinated before Grand Valley mandated it because I knew as long as I did my part to help myself and other people, then it was worth it,” GVSU student Payton Perry-Radcliffe said. “It makes me a lot safer knowing that not only am I protecting myself but students and faculty are helping protect me and I’m helping protect them.”  

Many GVSU students are now eager to return to normal campus operations. The past two months have given students a taste of normalcy with the return of GVSU Football and other on-campus events that were either canceled or moved online last fall, but there is still a ways to go before the university can fully open up to pre-COVID operations.

“I’m most excited about having normal classroom settings, especially going into the pre-dental field and taking a lot of science classes,” Perry-Radcliffe said. “I just thrive better with being in-person instead of sitting through zoom lectures. It helps me stay more motivated and productive as a student.”

GVSU remains at Alert Level 2, which, among other mandates, requires masks to be worn in all indoor spaces with a few exceptions such as eating and drinking. Masks will not be required and pre-COVID campus operations will continue once the university can safely transition into Alert Level 0, meaning that there are minimal COVID-19 cases on campus and in the surrounding area and transmission can be contained. 

“Our goal is to return to as normal a campus environment as soon as possible, which includes relaxing or even removing the masking requirements,” Barnes said. “Currently, our surrounding communities are experiencing a high number of cases.”

More information regarding COVID-19 cases and vaccination status on campus is available through the GVSU COVID-19 Data Dashboard.