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All faculty, staff at University Park must adhere to federal vaccine mandate, Penn State announces

All faculty, staff, and employees must submit proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, the school said this week.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Note: The video is from Oct. 11.

All staff members and faculty in University Park must provide proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, Penn State University announced Tuesday

The policy is in compliance with the executive order issued by President Joe Biden on Sept. 9, requiring all federal employees, contractors, and others to be fully vaccinated against the virus, the University said. It applies to all faculty and staff, regardless of whether or not they are working on federal contracts, according to the school.

Penn State is still working to determine the means by which employees will submit their vaccine confirmation, and those details will be shared once they are finalized, the University said.

"At University Park alone, Penn State has about 1,000 federal contracts, including those in the Applied Research Laboratory, several different colleges, administrative units, and research institutes with a collective value that exceeds $500 million in federal funding," the University said. "Additionally, there are many more federal grants and cooperative agreements that potentially may be subject to the requirement."

Biden’s executive order applies to employees in buildings even where no federal contracting work takes place, unless the institution can “affirmatively determine” that none of its unvaccinated employees will come into contact with a vaccinated contractor employee, the University said.

“For all practical intents and purposes, it has become evident that we must extend the mandate to all employees at University Park,” Penn State President Eric J. Barron said. “The great majority of Penn State employees report being vaccinated, which will accelerate compliance.”

Because of the federal deadline of Dec. 8, all employees who are not already vaccinated are strongly urged to start the process immediately, Penn State said. 

Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require four weeks or three weeks between doses, respectively. 

Nov. 24 is the last day individuals can get their final dose to meet the Dec. 8 deadline, according to the University.

“While the great majority of federal contracts impact the University Park campus, we are closely reviewing the Biden administration’s mandate and how it may apply to employees at other campuses and locations, as other parts of the University also receive government support,” Barron said. “So, we are strongly urging all of our employees across the commonwealth to start the vaccination process now, if they have not already done so.”

At this time, the vaccine requirement applies to all Penn State University Park employees, including full-time and part-time faculty, staff, and technical service workers, even if they are working remotely, the University said.

All graduate and undergraduate students who are supported on wage payroll, as well as students supported on graduate assistantships at University Park, are also required to submit proof of vaccination, according to Penn State.

In addition, all employees will still be required to follow masking guidelines already in place for indoor buildings and venues, the University added.

Under the umbrella of the executive order, all Penn State employees must be vaccinated unless they are entitled to a medical exemption or an accommodation for religious beliefs.

Information on the exemption request process for faculty and staff is forthcoming.

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