UPDATED 6:47 P.M.:
The Nevada System of Higher Education drafted plans that would require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students—with some limited exceptions—who are returning to any NSHE campuses for the fall semester.
The COVID-19 vaccine mandate depends upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifting the current Emergency Use Authorization designation for available COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, the mandate requires approval from the Board of Regents and the State Board of Health.
“I fully support the implementation of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement for students once it is legally viable,” said NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose. “Our students cannot afford further disruptions to their education if the virus is allowed to spread unabated, which continues to be a concern especially during the colder months.”
Chancellor Rose plans to work with local and state health authorities to recommend that the Board of Regents approve a mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
The University of Nevada, Reno’s Director of Communications Scott Walquist said the university was aware of NSHE exploring plans for a vaccine mandate.
“With today’s announcement, we will begin to prepare for a possible mandate,” Walquist said. “Our goal has always been to have a full in-person experience for our students during the Fall 2021 semester. Once approved, we will comply and support NSHE’s decision to ensure this occurs.”
President of ASUN Austin Brown said reached out to several ASUN officers including Director of Wellness, Jiego Lim, but no one was contacted by NSHE or the university to provide student representation regarding the potential mandate.
“ASUN holds student health and safety in the highest regard,” President Brown said. “However, we also strongly believe in the importance of shared governance and quality representation of the students at the University of Nevada and all other NSHE
institutions. In the coming weeks, I hope to see NSHE distribute a comprehensive survey to collect data on current
and incoming students’ feelings regarding the vaccine.”
President Brown said once Chancellor Rose provides ASUN with more information on the vaccine mandate, officers will begin conducting outreach h to collect qualitative feedback from students. After listening to the feedback, President Brown said ASUN e will be able to make an informed decision regarding this policy.
“As President of ASUN, I want to remind you that this Association is dedicated to representing your voices and ensuring they are valued,” President Brown said. “I believe that student voices must be included in every step of the decision-making process and I hope that NSHE will provide an avenue for this to happen. If you would like to share your opinion with ASUN so we can best represent you and your needs, please contact the Director of Wellness, Jiego Lim, at DirectorCampusWellness@ASUN.unr.edu.”
Multiple higher education institutions will be requiring the vaccine for its upcoming fall semester, including the California State University system and the University of California system.
In Nevada, approximately 2.15 million total doses of the vaccine were administered as of Tuesday, May 4. About 30 percent of the state is fully vaccinated. The COVID-19 positivity rate at the University of Nevada, Reno has also dropped significantly, reaching 0 percent last week.
Taylor Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @taylorkendyll.