Unvaccinated Quinnipiac students face thousands in fines
HAMDEN — About 600 Quinnipiac University students who have not yet disclosed their COVID vaccination status face hefty fines if they do not upload their information to the school’s database, officials said Monday.
Tom Ellett, the university’s chief experience officer, sent an email to the students on Monday, reminding them the deadline to upload the information was Aug. 1.
“Our goal is to protect the health of our entire university community,” Ellett wrote in the email, which was obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media. “In order to accomplish this we must know if you have been vaccinated.”
Those students who remain unvaccinated were urged in the email to “get vaccinated immediately” and upload a copy of their record to avoid noncompliance fees.
The email was sent Monday to about 600 students who had not yet uploaded vaccination information, university spokesman John Morgan told a reporter in an email. As of Tuesday evening, roughly 150 of those students had provided the required documentation after Ellett’s communication went out, according to Morgan.
The university will impose a weekly fee — which would reach up to $2,275 for a semester — for not complying with the vaccination requirement, Ellett said. The fee starts at $100 per week for the first two weeks of the semester and will increase by $25 every two weeks until reaching the maximum of $200 per week. Ellett said the fines will stop once proof of vaccination is provided.
“We wish we did not have to take these measures, but protecting the health of our QU community by ensuring compliance with our vaccination requirement is the only way we can ease most of our COVID-related restrictions and safely return to our inperson learning and living activities,” Ellett said.
All full-time faculty and staff have submitted the required vaccination documentation, according to Morgan.
Any student who has started the vaccination process will not be charged as long as they are fully vaccinated by Sept. 14, Ellett said.
Students who have received their first dose of a two-shot vaccine must upload a negative COVID-19 test within five days of returning to campus and are required to do weekly, on-campus testing until two weeks after their second dose, Ellett said.
Asked why unvaccinated students were not required to get tested when there has been evidence of spread among vaccinated individuals, Morgan issued the following statement.
“CDC guidelines currently do not recommend routine testing of vaccinated individuals,” he wrote. “They do recommend that vaccinated persons get tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result. In addition, if a vaccinated individual has any COVID-related symptoms they should get tested.”
Most documented cases of COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals.
All unvaccinated students will be required to take weekly, on-campus COVID-19 tests. Any unvaccinated student who misses weekly testing will be charged a $100 fee each time, Ellett said.
Any student who has not fulfilled the vaccine requirement by Sept. 14 will lose access to the Quinnipiac network and Wi-Fi, Ellett said.
The deadline for students to request a medical exemption was July 6, but these are still being considered on a case-bycase basis, Ellet said. Ellett said the deadline for religious exemptions has passed.
“Our hope is we don’t have to assess these charges on anyone, but rather the students provide their necessary documentation as required before the start of the semester,” Morgan said.
The university’s website indicates it has about 6,800 undergraduate and about 3,000 graduate, medical and law students across its three campuses in Hamden and North Haven.
Other area schools are taking different approaches to vaccine requirements.
Albertus Magnus College is not allowing students to enroll if they are unvaccinated and do not have an exemption, according to a statement from spokeswoman Sarah Barr.
Anthony Santella, the University of New Haven’s COVID coordinator, told Hearst Connecticut Media that UNH had no plans to fine “unvaccinted or partially vaccinated students who miss their weekly surveillance testing” but would prohibit them from entering campus facilities, including classrooms.
For students at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, “We will continue to educate and work with our students individually to ensure that they are following our mitigation efforts, including required testing for those who are not vaccinated,” according to a spokesman. “We will not be imposing fines or similar measures for non-compliance.”
At the University of Connecticut, nonexempt students who do not provide proof of vaccination will have their accounts frozen, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz, who said the measure would prevent them from accessing their housing assignments and course information.
At Gateway Community College, a spokesperson said Gateway and all of the state’s community colleges “are governed by the policies set forth by the CT Board of Regents for Higher Ed with DPH and CDC guidance. The protocols adapt as the situation changes.”
“The latest is the vaccine requirement for students who want to attend classes on campus or participate in activities on campus,” according to an email. “Unvaccinated students can apply for a medical or non-medical exemption. They are also encouraged to take classes online and virtually participate in campus activities. There is no punitive action for non-compliance, but non-vaccinated students without an exemption would likely be redirected to off-site learning until the matter is resolved ... (they get an exemption or get vaccinated).”