ANN ARBOR, MI – It took two weeks for students to meet the University of Michigan vaccination goals.
This means that an easing of some COVID-19 masking requirements could be on the horizon.
UM reports that 76% of its students are fully vaccinated, as of the July 20 update on its COVID-19 data dashboard. University officials have set a 75% vaccination target on July 6, giving the possibility that the indoor mask requirement may disappear for fully vaccinated students.
To reach this “important and positive step,” UM will update “decisions regarding masking requirements in courses by July 31,” said university spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen.
“University officials are assessing students’ self-reported vaccination rate as well as other metrics established by the Campus Health Response Committee to adjust COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the fall,” Broekhuizen said in a communicated. “Officials continue to monitor the important immunization measure as well as an assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in local and regional communities. “
Read more: 55% of University of Michigan students fully immunized by fall semester, officials say
Masks are currently required for everyone in classrooms, on campus transportation, or around patients in Michigan Medicine buildings. Otherwise, masks are not mandatory on campus for people who are fully vaccinated.
Students, faculty and staff should always self-report their immunization status as soon as possible, officials said. The university has set a July 16 deadline for submitting immunization information, but anyone can still share their vaccine statuses through Wolverine Access, officials said.
The student body vaccination rate dashboard is updated daily. Students are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after their second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.
There are around 47,000 students screened on campus for the fall semester of 2021, officials said, meaning the UM has verified self-reported vaccination information by around 35,720 students. An additional 746 students, or 1.6% of the student body, are still within the two-week window.
The student body is currently 12 percent ahead of Washtenaw County’s 63.5 percent rate for a full vaccination, according to state health statistics.
Students who do not agree to share their immunization status should take weekly COVID-19 tests in the fall as part of the university’s community sampling and monitoring program.
Despite positive vaccination figures, a majority of UM professors want a vaccine tenure with limited medical and religious exemptions, according to a university press release.
The only mandate at the moment is for students who plan to live in university residence or university accommodation. A survey by members of the university faculty Senate showed that 89% of some 4,300 respondents supported a campus-wide mandate for immunization.
More than three-quarters of faculty also want the option to opt out of teaching in person if the mandate is not implemented, the survey says.
“In my opinion, I believe that vaccination is currently the most effective tool to enable us to recover from the pandemic,” Faculty Senate Chairman Allen Allen Liu said in the statement. “Now that we have this great tool under our belt, we need to use it to our advantage. “
Liu sent the survey to thousands of faculty Senate members, which consist of all professors, librarians, full-time researchers, senior managers, deans, clinical professors, and lecturers.
The survey results were shared with President Mark Schlissel, Provost Susan Collins and Chairman of the Board Jordan Acker. While university officials have acknowledged that terms are being considered, the current pressure is to “strongly encourage” everyone to get vaccinated and report their status.
“We appreciate our colleagues in the faculty leadership for engaging in this important issue for our community,” said Broekhuizen. “Although there are many complex factors when we consider any change to our current approach, we know that approved COVID-19 vaccines are highly safe and effective. We ask our faculty and staff to get vaccinated and report their immunization status to help our campus stay safe and resume the activities we all love. “
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