Stamford Advocate

Unvaccinat­ed Quinnipiac students face thousands in fines

- By Tara O’Neill Meghan Friedmann contribute­d to this report.

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).”

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