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Westminster requires COVID-19 vaccinations by Oct. 15


Westminster prepares for the upcoming Fall semester Aug. 9. Due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 July 27 updates, Westminster has revised its COVID-19 safety guidelines to require vaccinations by Oct. 15, 2021 and masks indoors. Photo courtsey of Anthony Giorgio.

Westminster requires all staff, faculty and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15. The college will also require the community, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors and in substantial to high transmission areas. 

Westminster requires all staff, faculty and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15. The college will also require the community, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors and in substantial to high transmission areas. 

“These changes are crucial to the health of our campus community,” said Glenn Smith, the vice president for student affairs, in an email. “[…] I am confident this will help us come together to have a safe and fulfilling Fall Semester.”  

Westminster is the only higher education institution in Utah to mandate the vaccine; since it is a private college, it does not have to follow the Utah legislature ban on K-12, college, or university vaccine or masks mandates.

“President Dobkin, with support of the cabinet and Westminster Board of Trustees, will be requiring the vaccine for all employees and registered students,” Smith said. “Faculty, adjunct faculty, full- and part-time staff, and all students will need to be fully vaccinated by October 15, 2021.”

Westminster has asked members of the campus community to declare their vaccination status by Oct. 15 by submitting a form

Legally required exemptions such as health, medical and religious exemptions, will be honored in the vaccination requirement process, according to Westminster. 

Local businesses and institutions are reinstating their COVID-19 safety guidelines after an estimated total of 4,059 COVID-19 cases from July 26 to Aug. 8 and a high level transmission rate in Salt Lake County, according to the Salt Lake County Health Department.

The Food and Drug Administration is set to approve of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by early September, giving the community six weeks to get fully vaccinated, according to the Westminster update

With the updated COVID-19 safety guidelines and indoor mask requirement, Westminster still plans for an in-person Fall.

“We believe that the unique Westminster learning environment is best experienced in community with other learners,” Dr. Smith said in the email update. “Students, faculty, and staff should be prepared for an on-campus learning and working environment—with masks inside for everyone, for now, consistent with CDC guidance.” 

As Westminster updates its COVID-19 safety protocols per the CDC’s recommendations, a July 27 update from the CDC included the following:

  • Fully vaccinated people who have come into close contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be tested 3-5 days after exposure 
  • Individuals should also wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result 

Westminster events such as President Dobkin’s Fall Address for faculty and staff, the Associated Students of Westminster’s block party and the faculty/staff BBQ will go on as planned while adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines, according to the Westminster update.

Westminster will continue to monitor data and recommendations and make changes, according to the update.

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Cat Taylor is a junior communication major with a minor in art. For a year and a half, she worked as a communication coordinator for the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion where she co-created the social media campaign, “We Are Westminster” that discussed unconscious bias. In her free time, she can be seen drawing, playing video games and drinking a significant amount of coffee.

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