Dear faculty, staff, and students,
As I have reminded the community for several weeks now, we announced in July that Guilford would be moving toward a vaccine mandate for all members of our community. In light of the news of full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last week, I have now approved the earlier recommendation from the Health and Safety Task Force that Guilford require proof of vaccination from faculty, staff, and students. This change in policy has come after extensive discussions with the Cabinet, Health and Safety Task Force members, and other members of the Guilford community, as well as legal counsel and other higher-education personnel.
While proof of vaccination will now be required to be employed at Guilford or to be a student who takes classes and/or lives on campus, there will be appropriate exemptions based on documented medical conditions or religious beliefs. More specific information about these exemptions for employees and students will be forthcoming.
We have established Oct. 15, 2021, as the deadline for all members of our Guilford community to be fully vaccinated or to be approved for an exemption. Fully vaccinated means having the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccination or having completed the Pfizer or Moderna two-shot vaccination series.
While the information already submitted by hundreds of members of our community suggests that the vast majority of people have already been vaccinated, we recognize that a few members of the community may voluntarily choose to remain unvaccinated even though they could receive the vaccine. While we respect individual choice in many arenas of our work, given the public health threat posed by the COVID-19 virus and the very clear scientific evidence that vaccination is the surest and safest way to reduce the spread of this disease and keep people out of the health-care system, I have updated College policy to mandate the vaccination now that the FDA has certified the safety of at least one of the vaccines. As is the case with other vaccines approved by the FDA and required for students by North Carolina law, this is a clear situation in which the needs of the larger community outweigh the value of individual choice.
I want every member of our community to remain at Guilford by choosing to be vaccinated or obtaining an exemption. Guilford’s Core Value of community calls us to move through this pandemic together. I hope that each of us will recognize our serious obligation to keep our community safe and healthy when we have the means to do so at hand.
Please look for more specific information for students, faculty and staff to come out in the days ahead. I know there are many questions. We will work to the best of our ability through our usual processes to move our community forward together. Until then, please reach out to the Health and Safety Task Force (email@example.com) if you ever need something, or visit the Student Health Services professionals on campus. You can also find more resources online at our COVID-19 webpage.
Jim Hood ’79