California State University, the nation’s largest four-year public university system, announced Tuesday that it would require all faculty, staff, and students accessing facilities at any of its campuses to be immunized against COVID-19 for the fall term.
“The current surge in COVID cases due to the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant is an alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees, and visitors to our campuses this fall,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro in a statement issued on Tuesday. “We urge all members of the CSU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and announcing this requirement now allows members of the CSU community to receive multiple doses of a vaccine as we head into the beginning of the fall term.”
Education officials cited “evolving circumstances” for “announcing the pending requirement now without waiting for any further action by the US Food and Drug Administration.”
According to the university, “Dates by which faculty, staff, and students must certify vaccination will vary by campus due to differences in academic calendars, but all certifications must be completed no later than September 30.”
CSU comprises 23 campuses throughout the state with approximately 56,000 faculty and staff and an enrollment of 486,000 students. They may seek medical and religious exemptions, officials said. Vaccines are being administered on several CSU campuses.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the vaccination policy would “largely rely” on the honor system, according to CSU spokesperson Mike Uhlenkamp.
“Students would have to certify that they are fully vaccinated or seeking an exemption and attest that their answers are accurate and truthful,” The Times reported. “A Cal State campus could independently request proof of vaccination as a next step in the initial certification process.”
Uhlenkamp told KQED that the “goal” of Tuesday’s announcement “is really to get as many people vaccinated as possible so that we can have as many people on campus and so that we are all safe collectively.”
“We are planning to have the majority of courses and activities take place in person,” he said. “I think for the majority of students, they are looking forward to being back on their respective campus in person in the fall, taking part in those robust opportunities to engage with their classmates, their professors, the staff there.”
Officials expect “a more expansive offering of virtual courses” to be available for most campuses for students who plan to continue their studies but don’t wish to return on-site.
KQED reported, “The CSU announcement comes less than two weeks after the University of California rolled out a similar mandate for its students and faculty, and a day after California officials said vaccine and testing would be required for state employees and health care workers.”
Administrators said they plan to release the formal vaccination policy soon.
The CSU campuses include CSU Bakersfield, CSU Channel Islands, Chico State, CSU Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, Fresno State, Cal State Fullerton, Humboldt State, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State LA, Cal Maritime, CSU Monterey Bay, CSUN (Northridge), Cal Poly Pomona, Sacramento State, Cal State San Bernardino, San Diego State, San Francisco State, San José State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU San Marcos, Sonoma State, and Stanislaus State.