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WVU: Vaccines remain optional for students and staff, with exceptions

MORGANTOWN — While WVU Medicine is now requiring COVID-19 vaccines for all of its employees, the shots remain optional for WVU students and staff — with some exceptions.

The exceptions: “Those on the Health Sciences Campus involved in patient care, including residents, fellows and students, are required to follow separate WVU Health System policies, including those related to COVID-19, such as masks, PPE and vaccinations,” WVU said in a Monday statement.

At Mon Health, the vaccine requirement will apply to employees, students and more.

In addition to contacting WVU, WVU Medicine and Mon Health for this report, The Dominion Post also contacted several local schools that offer health care education programs for adults.

WVU issued its statement Monday following the FDA’s announcement fully approving Pfizer’s vaccine for ages 16 and up, and the West Virginia Hospital Association’s announcement supporting mandatory vaccines for hospital and health system employees across the state.

WVU said, “The university will continue its course of monitoring vaccination verification rates, infection and hospitalization rates, and other factors as we conduct sample testing, waste-water testing, and partner with local health departments to offer free community testing and vaccination clinics.”

Vaccination verification rates among faculty, staff and students are climbing, WVU said, nearing or exceeding 70% on the Morgantown campus. In some groups — instructors, students in residence halls, fraternities and sororities — the rates are 70%–80%.

WVU said it will launch its data dashboard this week, which will help track progress throughout the semester.

“As a result, WVU will continue to strongly encourage students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated, wear a mask in our classrooms and labs, and use the proven tools available to combat the spread of COVID-19,” it said.

Ross College has campuses in Morgantown and Charleston, offering medical assistant and dental assistant programs. It does not have a mandatory vaccination policy but says, “We do, however, continue to encourage our staff and students to follow the recommendations of the CDC and their local health departments regarding COVID-19 immunization.”

It updated its vaccine policy in May, saying, “Ross recently surveyed our population about the completion of the COVID-19 vaccination to make informed decisions about our Health & Safety Plan. While there is some variance by location, a large percentage of our students are not yet vaccinated.”

It continued, “With that information, and the well-being of our schools in mind, Ross will be maintaining our current Health & Safety requirements, including the mask requirement, for the time being. We will continue to monitor and review changes in vaccination levels, federal and state regulations, and health department guidance. Our approach will remain conservative and considerate in support of providing a safe environment for all of our staff and students.”

A local Ross official, speaking on background Tuesday following the FDA and WVHA announcements, said the current policy remains in place at this time.

The Monongalia County Technical Education Center — MTEC — is part of Mon County Schools and offers five adult health occupations programs.

Mon Schools Superintendent Eddie Campbell said district doesn’t have a mandatory vaccination policy in place. “When those adult students are involved in anything that’s related to our campus, we don’t require that they have a vaccination.” That also applies to staff.

West Virginia Junior College offers several health care programs at its Morgantown, Bridgeport and Charleston campuses. It doesn’t post any COVID-19 or vaccine policies on its website. WVJC’s president was out of the office Tuesday and other staff were not authorized to speak for the school.

However, the health care programs mentioned above often require students to undergo a portion of their training in clinical settings.

WVU Medicine said, “Yes, those students would be required to be vaccinated to come into WVU Medicine facilities for training.”

Mon Health said, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, whenever we had important decisions to make, we always came back to our mission: enhance the lives of the communities we serve, one person at a time. It’s with that in mind that we announce employees, contractors, volunteers, students, and vendors at all Mon Health locations will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1, 2021. A student who cannot show proof of vaccination will not be permitted to continue their student program after Nov. 1.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp EMAIL