The University of Hawaii will require all unvaccinated students to undergo a mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing to be on any of its 10 campuses this fall, according to UH president David Lassner.
In an update shared with UH faculty, staff and students over the weekend, Lassner said unvaccinated students should also be aware “that they may be ineligible for some employment opportunities and may be prohibited from participation in certain face-to-face educational activities,” such as clinical work and field work, and may therefore “be prevented from completing educational requirements.”
“Unfortunately, it should be obvious to all that COVID-19 conditions have worsened in Hawaii, across the nation and globally,” said Lassner in the update. “A new variant is exploding, and we have now seen more than a week of triple-digit numbers of new cases daily across the islands. And key COVID-19 metrics have doubled in the wrong direction over the past two weeks. Yet, we are fortunate that our conditions in Hawaii are better than most of the country and we remain in Tier 5 at this time.”
Earlier this month, UH said it would not enforce the COVID-19 vaccination requirement this fall, as earlier announced, because none of the vaccines offered in Hawaii have yet received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Also, UH said, surveys found more than 90% of students and employees have already been or plan to be vaccinated.
Lassner said again in his letter that the student vaccination requirement remains in place, but that no unvaccinated students will be dis-enrolled from face-to-face or hybrid classes.
Vaccinations will, however, be required for students living in on-campus housing, with religious and medical exemptions available.
The process for these exemptions is still being finalized, according to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, and will be different for each campus.
Additionally, telework will once again be an option for UH employees, said Lassner, who previously announced that all were to return in person on Aug. 3. That has now been rescinded, he said, but is at the discretion of supervisors, with the expectation that full, in-person support and services will be available.
Lassner said UH will also begin discussions with unions about an employee vaccination mandate.
Students and staff will be required to continue to daily self-checks on the LumiSight app, which now allows users to upload their vaccination card and status.
“Getting vaccinated is unquestionably the most important step you can take to protect yourself, your family, your colleagues, your campus and your community,” said Lassner. “Vaccination is free and readily available across our islands. If you are not already vaccinated, please, please, please do so now.”
The update to campus guidelines should be announced later this week or early next week, said Meisenzahl.